Thank you for contacting me regarding raising the debt ceiling and proposed cuts to Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security. I appreciate hearing from you on this issue.
I have fought to preserve Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security throughout my career.
Currently, 46 million seniors and people with disabilities rely on Medicare for their health care. Before the enactment of the Medicare program in 1965, only half of America’s seniors had health insurance and most of those with insurance only had coverage for inpatient hospital costs. At the same time, approximately 30 percent of seniors lived below the poverty line before Medicare. Today, only 1.8 percent of seniors lack health coverage and less than nine percent live below the poverty line.
You will be pleased to learn I recently joined with a group of 50 senators in sending a letter to President Obama urging him to protect America’s seniors and to oppose any attempts to dismantle Medicare. I believe that while deficit reduction is essential, balancing the budget by dismantling Medicare is unfair to hard-working Americans. Seniors have paid into the system their working lives and deserve affordable, secure health coverage upon retirement.
Likewise, the Medicaid program has been an essential safety net program, providing health coverage and long term-care for low-income children and adults. More than 58 million people nationwide rely on Medicaid services.
The importance of the Social Security program to retirees and disabled Americans cannot be overstated. Since its beginning in 1935, Social Security has prevented millions of seniors from falling into poverty, and it has served as a cornerstone of retirement security for American workers. We have a responsibility to ensure that Social Security delivers on its promises to current and future retirees. Changes to the Social Security program—how it is financed, how benefits are calculated, or decisions about retirement age—should be designed to preserve and strengthen the financial integrity of the program, and should not be a part of deficit reduction decisions.
Our country faces serious challenges following the economic collapse brought on by Wall Street in 2008. As your Senator, I have remained focused on turning around our economy by investing in job creation, fighting for Main Street small businesses, and implementing strong financial reform.
I am deeply concerned about getting our country’s fiscal house in order. It is time for both parties to work together for the good of the country and produce a responsible debt limit plan. I will continue to advocate for a plan that will stave off the economic catastrophe of default while creating jobs, putting Americans back to work, cutting wasteful government spending, and protecting Medicare and Social Security.
Government has a responsibility to spend taxpayers’ dollars wisely, but it also has a responsibility to provide certain services and guarantees to the American people. In this time of economic crisis, I believe it is especially important that Congress prioritize those measures that will foster long-term economic growth. We must reinvest in our education system, in our workers, in our nation’s infrastructure and in the development of clean energy technologies that will reduce our dependence on foreign oil. By making these important investments today and helping revitalize our economy, we can leave our children with prosperity not debt.
As a member of the U.S. Senate Finance Committee I will continue to work with President Obama and with my colleagues to draft legislation that strikes the right balance in how we collect and spend federal tax dollars so we can leave more than debt to the next generation. This is why I’ve worked to cut taxes for Washington families, specifically by extending the sales tax deduction to ensure fairness for residents of our state. I understand that this issue is especially important to you; be assured that I will keep your views in mind as we craft legislation.
Thank you again for contacting me to share your thoughts on this matter. You may also be interested in signing up for periodic updates for Washington State residents. If you are interested in subscribing to this update, please visit my website at http://cantwell.senate.gov. Please do not hesitate to contact me in the future if I can be of further assistance.
United States Senator