Rahall Fights Attempt to End Medicare and Social Security

From a Rep. Nick Rahall Release

Washington, D.C. (HNN) – Arguing that the bill would end Social Security and Medicare as we know it, U.S. Representative Nick Rahall (D-W.Va.) Tuesday voted against legislation tying an increase in the statutory debt ceiling to severe cuts in safety net programs.

“This bill would cut, cap, and end Medicare as we know it.  It would end guarantees for Medicare beneficiaries and more than double health care costs for seniors,” said Rahall. “That’s bad enough on its face, but it would accomplish this by placing party-driven budget policies into the Constitution, and I do not believe such a salvo against our seniors deserves an honored place in the Constitution next to the Bill of Rights.”

The bill authorizes a $2.4 trillion increase in the public debt, tying it to a requirement that the Congress vote to add a Balanced Budget Amendment to the Constitution.  The Amendment would cap spending at 18 percent of Gross Domestic Product, a level not seen since 1966, and prohibit legislation to increase revenues without a two-thirds vote by both Houses of Congress.

“This legislation would make it far easier to take Social Security and Medicare benefits away from our seniors who struggle on fixed incomes than to eliminate corporate loopholes and tax subsidies for lucrative international oil and gas conglomerates,” said Rahall.

The bill also would require immediate spending cuts of $111 billion in the fiscal year 2012, which begins on October 1, cutting funds for transportation and infrastructure improvements, research and development, education, and workforce training programs that are vital to long-term economic growth.

Rahall has expressed support for painful spending cuts throughout recent months but has cautioned against mindless cuts that would endanger the economic recovery and put in place an overwhelming burden on seniors and other citizens least able to endure greater sacrifices.

“The reality is that any time you cut spending it affects jobs – both in the public and private sectors.  Cuts in road and highway construction and in water and sewer infrastructure, as included in this proposal, are cuts in jobs.  It means cuts in government contracts for private-sector businesses, and job layoffs. In West Virginia, we know very well how important safer roads and modern water systems are to attracting and growing businesses,” said Rahall.

Rahall expressed his belief that an agreement was still possible before August 2, when the Treasury Department estimates that the Nation would be forced to default on its debt obligation without action by the Congress.

“So far, the House leadership has brought two proposals before the body – both of them designed to score political points rather than reach a sensible compromise.   I think the American people are sick of this kind of gamesmanship.  I hope that it will end sooner rather than later and a legitimate compromise is presented to the House so that we can move a bill that will shore up the economy and move us beyond the political posturing that seems to be ruling the moment,” said Rahall.

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