We Will Defend Medicare

By Congressman William Lacy Clay (D-MO)/ 5.3.11

Just a few days ago, I watched in total amazement as my Republican colleagues in the House passed a budget that ends Medicare as we know it – and guts Medicaid too.

The Republican budget gives huge tax breaks to big oil and the wealthy few while it adds hundreds of billions to our national debt.

And it also sets the stage for an assault on Social Security.

The Republican vote to end Medicare was a complete betrayal of the greatest generation.  The proposal trusts the free market to take care of our most vulnerable citizens.

It’s a perfect example of how totally out of touch the Republicans are with the American people.

Sixty-five percent of all Americans oppose the Republican proposal to end Medicare and turn it into a voucher program for seniors.  Under the Republican plan, average annual out of pocket health care costs for seniors will double…with the typical retiree paying an additional six thousand dollars a year.

Instead of Medicare’s guaranteed coverage, Seniors will once again be at the mercy of insurance companies who will be in charge of their care.  That’s not the promise that we made to retired Americans.

Of course, it’s obvious that all of this is really part of a larger effort.

My colleague from Wisconsin, GOP budget chairman Paul Ryan…said that his plan was:

“Not just a budget…but a cause.”

And let me tell you what the next target is in his cause.

The next item on the tea party Republican agenda is assaulting Social Security.

Before Social Security, older Americans couldn’t afford to retire and enjoy their later years with some sense of dignity.

As President Obama rightly stated, we are not going to balance the budget and pay off the debt by breaking our sacred promises to the people who built this country.

I absolutely agree that we have to restore fiscal sanity to the federal budget, and everything has to be on the table…including entitlements and defense spending.  But it’s a total lie to say that we can no longer afford to educate the young and care for the old.

America is still the richest, the strongest and the most productive country in the world.  We’re on the path to restoring jobs and economic security.

We are going to win the future by out- working, out-educating and out- innovating the rest of the world.

We need a peace dividend to reinvest back into this country to make rebuilding our infrastructure a national priority that hires the unemployed, restores our economic security, and gives America a new competitive edge in the world.

We will defend Medicare and we will also fight to preserve the historic health care reform legislation that is already helping millions of Americans.

My generation of national leaders needs to be ever mindful of the broad and brave shoulders that we are all standing on.

And as a Congress, we need to keep our promises to today’s senior citizens and future retirees too.

We need to make shared sacrifice and common responsibility a reality without harming our most vulnerable citizens in the process.


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