Today, Democratic Caucus Chairman Xavier Becerra (CA-34) and Seniors Task Force Co-Chairs, Jan Schakowsky (IL-09) and Doris Matsui (CA-06), released the following statement after sending a letter along with 88 other House Democrats to Speaker Paul Ryan urging him to bring forward a budget that does not include further cuts seniors programs.
"For over 80 years and through 13 recessions, Social Security has never failed to pay in full and on time to every American who earned their benefits," said Democratic Caucus Chairman Xavier Becerra. "At the same time, Social Security has never added a penny to the national debt or budget deficits. Congress should be working to build on Social Security's success not cut seniors' COLA."
"Senior citizens' retirement security should not be sacrificed in order to cut the deficit or fund tax breaks for the rich," said Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky. "Five years ago, Rep. Paul Ryan put out his Road Map for America's Future, a budget that provided tax breaks for the very wealthy while cutting health, long-term care and retirement security programs for older Americans. Every Republican budget offered since then has continued down that same path -- cutting benefits, underfunding senior housing and nutrition needs, and threatening Medicaid, Medicare and Social Security. Today we are asking Speaker Ryan to reverse course -- to put the needs of senior citizens and their families ahead of Republican priorities to provide unpaid-for tax breaks to those who do not need them."
"Older Americans who have worked hard their whole lives to achieve retirement security don't deserve cuts to essential benefits that they and their families have earned," said Congresswoman Doris Matsui. "Past Republican budgets included real, damaging consequences for seniors, jeopardizing critical services like caregiver assistance, health care, and housing programs. I will continue to fight to strengthen -- not weaken -- critical programs like Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, because we need to make sure that our seniors have the resources they need to maintain a healthy and dignified retirement."
Dear Speaker Ryan:
As the fiscal year 2017 budget process begins, we urge you to reject proposals that would harm Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, or domestic discretionary programs that protect the financial and health well-being of American seniors and their families.
Our nation's seniors have made and continue to make valuable contributions to our society, and they deserve a dignified and secure retirement. Nearly 2 out of 3 seniors depend on Social Security for most of their income in retirement, a benefit which they earned by paying in to the system during their working lives. America's seniors face many common, but very personal challenges such as managing chronic illnesses and continuing to provide for their families. Medicare and Medicaid provide much needed lifelines to ensure that seniors have access to health care and long term care.
Domestic discretionary programs provide valuable resources for seniors as well. Each year, the Older Americans Act provides more than 11 million people with services like home-delivered and congregate meals -- known as Meals on Wheels. The Older Americans Act also ensures seniors have transportation to medical appointments, the grocery store, adult day care and more.
Five years ago, as Chair of the Budget Committee, you put forward the Roadmap for America's Future, a budget proposal that, if enacted, would have had profound and harmful impacts on this and future generations of older Americans. That proposal would have provided more tax breaks for the wealthiest among us while eliminating traditional Medicare, raising the age of Medicare eligibility and drastically increasing out-of-pocket costs. It would have turned Medicaid (the largest payer of long-term care services and supports) and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, which provides food assistance to over 4 million seniors) into block grants with sharply reduced funding. It would have capped non-defense discretionary spending at 2009 levels through 2019, jeopardizing critical nutrition, housing, elder justice and caregiver assistance services for millions of seniors and their families. Many of those proposals -- as well as threatened reductions to Social Security's earned benefits -- have been contained in the budget resolutions subsequently offered by the Republican majority and the Republican Study Conference.
At a time when senior poverty is on the rise, median senior income is $24,500, and many of our older constituents are still struggling from the loss of retirement savings and the erosion of defined benefit plans, Congress should not pass a budget that includes the harmful cuts included in the Roadmap for America's Future and subsequent Republican budgets. We call on you to reverse course and work with us to adopt budget policies that provide security for today's seniors and for the generations of seniors to come.