May 25 2011
Meghan Hughes (202) 224-5972 or Kevin Bishop (864) 250-1417
I appreciate the hard work of the House Budget Committee and its Chairman Paul Ryan. I was proud to vote today in support of bringing the House-passed budget plan straight to the Senate floor for debate.
There is no doubt that we must make structural changes to Social Security and Medicare. Both programs, as the Trustees of the Social Security and Medicare Trust Funds have repeatedly made clear, are unsustainable in their current forms. Those aren't politicians sounding the alarm, but the people responsible for running the programs.
These two programs are important to millions of seniors today and in the future. Doing nothing to save them should not be an option. I will not stand by and watch as these programs collapse. We can save them, but only if we deal honestly with their financial problems now.
On Social Security, I have worked on this issue each and every year since my election to the Senate in 2002. Already this year I have introduced legislation with Senators Rand Paul (R-KY) and Mike Lee (R-UT) to put forth another plan making the necessary changes to put the program on more solid footing. But let's be clear, the funding problems facing Social Security pale in comparison to the problems facing Medicare. Social Security is the ‘easy' fix of the two.
Like Social Security, Medicare remains another important program for millions of seniors. Allowing it to collapse is unacceptable to those who rely on the program and health care in general. While I may not agree with every detail in the Ryan plan - and if it had gone through the regular committee process we could have made improvements -- I appreciate the willingness to tackle a very tough issue in an honest, straightforward way.
Instead of launching attacks against the Ryan plan, opponents should put their ideas on the table on how to save Medicare.
It's truly disappointing that Senate Democrats, at the direction of Majority Leader Harry Reid, have flat out refused to bring forth a budget. President Obama, to his credit, at least put forward a proposal. However, it's been 756 days since the Senate last passed a budget, and Senate Democrats blatant refusal to uphold their constitutional duties by not attempting to write a budget speaks volumes about their agenda.
Demagoguery is not going to save Medicare. It's not going to save Social Security. It's not going to put our country on the path to balanced budgets. This is a time when we need a healthy discussion about our financial future and the tough choices that lie ahead. Instead we get nothing but demagoguery and political games.
The American people deserve better.