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Greg Walden: A fact-based update on the budget

 

 

You deserve a fact-based conversation on the budget.

 

Every year, the proponents of borrow-and-spend policies in Washington use gimmicks and accounting tricks to make budgets look responsible, when in fact we are borrowing 40 cents on every dollar and building a tidal wave of debt that casts a shadow over our children and grandchildren.

 

Last week, House Republicans passed a budget that takes the first steps on a path to prosperity that cuts our debt while securing important safety net programs like Medicare and Social Security for future generations.

 

Before going any further, I want to make one point very clear: If you are in or approaching retirement, you have earned the peace of mind that the Medicare and Social Security benefits you have counted on will be there for you. You have paid into the programs with your hard-earned tax dollars for most, if not all, of your life. You deserve the certainty of knowing that they will be there as long as you need them.

 

Our budget does not propose any changes to the Medicare or Social Security programs for those 55 or older. That means that if you are currently receiving benefits, or are planning to receive them as you near retirement, our plan would not change the current model of Medicare and Social Security for anyone 55 years of age or older.

 

At the same time, according to the independent government experts, Medicare and Social Security are on an unsustainable trajectory that will eventually render them unavailable to our children and grandchildren. And with the interest we pay to China on our debt, China can afford to buy three new jet fighters — with $50 million each week left over.

 

That is the legacy we are preparing to leave for future generations of Americans: financing the prosperity of other nations through the debt we are piling on our own.

 

The good news? If we roll up our sleeves now, we have time to correct course.

 

Last week, House Republicans passed a budget that identifies a path to prosperity. Our plan cuts $6.2 trillion in government spending over the next decade compared to the President’s budget, and $5.8 trillion relative to the current-policy baseline. It eliminates hundreds of duplicative programs, continues the ban on earmarks, and curbs corporate welfare, bringing non-security discretionary spending to below 2008 levels.

 

And I’m sure you will be glad to know that it saves Medicare and Social Security for current and future generations while making no changes for those in or near retirement.

 

For those under the age of 55, the reforms preserve and strengthen Medicare by personalizing the Medicare benefit with guaranteed coverage options, giving future beneficiaries the same kinds of plans enjoyed by members of Congress and all other federal employees. Under our plan, starting in 2022, new beneficiaries would be given the ability to choose from a number of competing plans that are certified by Medicare and required to offer you coverage.

 

To ensure the program’s sustainability, rather than harsh rationing from a bureaucracy in Washington, personalized Medicare is built around one of the strongest cost controls ever devised — competition.

 

And when it comes to Social Security, the Social Security trustees say that “scheduled benefits would be reduced 22 percent at the point of trust fund exhaustion in 2037.” Without intervention by Congress, cuts to Social Security benefits will occur automatically, so we have a responsibility to act.

 

In this budget, we tell the President and Congress to submit a plan to strengthen this program so future generations of retirees can receive benefits when they need them.

 

What is at stake is nothing short of the prosperity of future generations. As a small business owner for nearly 22 years, it’s pretty clear to me that we cannot continue racking up $1.5 trillion deficits year after year and expect to remain competitive in the international economy.

 

I also understand fairness. That is why our budget does not propose any changes to Medicare or Social Security for those 55 and older. We must keep our commitment to retirees and those near retirement.

 

Please do not hesitate to contact my office should you have any questions. It is an honor to represent you in the U.S. House of Representatives.

 

Best regards,

Greg Walden
Member of Congress

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