Categorized | Features, Pushback

President Offers ‘A Rock-Solid Guarantee’ On Social Security & Medicare


WASHINGTON, DC – FEBRUARY 07: U.S. President Joe Biden delivers the State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress

By Al Norman

 One of the more memorable moments recently of political media took place on Feb. 7, when Pres. Joe Biden was in the middle of his State of the Union speech before Congress.

 “Some of my Republican friends,” Biden said, “want to take the economy hostage — I get it — unless I agree to their economic plans. All of you at home should know what those plans are. Instead of making the wealthy pay their fair share, some Republicans—some Republicans — want Medicare and Social Security to sunset. I’m not saying it’s the majority…It means if Congress doesn’t keep the programs the way they are, they go away. Other Republicans say — I’m not saying it’s a majority of you, I don’t even think it’s even a significant — but it’s being proposed by individuals. I’m not — politely not naming them — but it’s being proposed by some of you.”

As the president was speaking, the House chamber reverberated with loud catcalls of “liar” echoing from the Republican members of Congress. They yelled out: “No, No” — denying that Republicans wanted to make Medicare and Social Security “go away.”

Waiting calmly for the noise to subside, Biden then declared victory: “So folks, as we all apparently agree, Social Security and Medicare is off the books now, right? We’ve got unanimity. Social Security and Medicare are a lifeline for millions of seniors…So tonight, let’s all agree — and we apparently are — let’s stand up for seniors. Stand up and show them we will not cut Social Security. We will not cut Medicare.”

premium, patient-centered, Social Security, ageist, nursing, COVID, Trump, vaccineFour weeks later, Biden released his Fiscal Year 2024 budget. According to the White House, the president’s budget will:

expand Medicare’s power to negotiate drug prices by extending it to more drugs and bringing drugs into negotiation sooner after they launch.

limit Medicare Part D cost-sharing to no more than $2 for high-value generic drugs used for chronic conditionslike hypertension and high cholesterol.

authorize the federal government to negotiate Medicaid drug rebates for states which want to participate, to pool purchasing power.

cap the prices of insulin products at $35 for a monthly prescription.

invest $150 B over 10 years to improve and expand Medicaid home and community-based services, such as personal care services, which would allow seniors and individuals with disabilities to remain in their homes and stay active in their communities, as well as improve the quality of jobs for home care workers.

expand Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) funding by $4.1 B, and give states the option to use a portion of these funds to provide water bill assistance to low-income households.

strengthen Medicare by extending the solvency of the Medicare Trust Fund by at least 25 years, without cutting any benefits or raising costs for beneficiaries.

reform the tax code to ensure wealthy individuals pay their fair share into Medicare, and directs the savings from proposed Medicare drug reforms into the Trust Fund.

lower Medicare patients’ costs for mental health services, requires parity in coverage between behavioral health and medical benefits, and expands coverage for behavioral health providers.

oppose any attempt to cut Social Security benefits for current or future recipients.

establish a national paid family and medical leave program, providing up to 12 weeks of leave to allow eligible workers to take time off to care for a new child, care for a seriously ill loved one, or heal from their own serious illness.

require employers to provide seven job-protected paid sick days each year to all workers.

 “The president has always believed,” the White House noted, “that Medicare and Social Security are a promise — a rock-solid guarantee generations of Americans have counted on to be able to retire with dignity and security. The president will reject any efforts to cut the Medicare or Social Security benefits that seniors and people with disabilities have earned and paid into their entire working lives.’

Finally, the president’s budget more than fully pays for its investments, reduces deficits by nearly $3 trillion over the next decade by making the wealthy and big corporations pay their fair share and cutting wasteful spending on Big Pharma, Big Oil, and other special interests, and ensures that no one making less than $400,000 per year will pay a penny more in new taxes.” Biden proposes “a tax system that rewards work, not wealth.” He proposes a Minimum Tax on Billionaires a 25 percent minimum tax on the wealthiest 0.01 percent. “While the wages and salaries that everyday Americans earn are taxed as ordinary income, billionaires make their money in ways that are taxed at lower rates, and sometimes not taxed at all.”

Unfortunately, Congress writes the budget — not the president. The same people who shouted down the  during the State of the Union speech, will be trying to cut down his budget. Readers are urged to copy this column, search for your representative or senator’s website, and paste this article link to their listed email.

Al Norman worked for three decades in the Massachusetts elder home care field. He has been writing advocacy columns for the 50+ Life for almost as long.

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