Senator Bernie Sanders on the Debt Limit Debate
With one week to go before an Aug. 2 deadline for raising the nation's debt limit, the stakes are enormous. Some in Congress continue to press for steep cuts in programs for working families. Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid remain in jeopardy. Funds for education, child care, nutrition, affordable housing, environmental protection and energy independence also are at stake. When Republican leaders talk about $3 trillion or $4 trillion in spending cuts over the next 10 years, with no new taxes on the wealthy and large corporations, please understand what they mean.
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SOCIAL SECURITY — The average Social Security recipient who retires at age 65 would get $560 less a year at age 75, under a proposal to change the formula which determines cost-of-living adjustments. The same retiree would get $1,000 less a year at age 85 than under current law. Another provision pushed by House Republicans would require that Social Security always be solvent for 75 years, an avenue to even larger cuts in benefits. All of this would take place despite the fact that Social Security has not contributed one penny to the deficit and has a $2.6 trillion surplus.
MEDICARE — Raising the eligibility age from 65 to 67 is one proposal. Another would cut benefits by as much as $500 billion over 10 years. How are 66-year-old Americans with modest means going to afford health insurance with a private company especially if they have medical problems? It's not going to happen. They are going to suffer. Some will unnecessarily die.
MEDICAID — At a time when 50 million Americans already have no health insurance, Republicans and some Democrats are proposing to cut hundreds of billions of dollars from Medicaid. That means that many men, women and children will lose the health insurance they have. According to a Harvard University study, some 45,000 Americans die each year because they don't get to a doctor when they should. How many more will die if Medicaid is slashed? How many children will be thrown off the Children's Health Insurance Program?
EDUCATION — Childcare and college education already are unaffordable for millions of working families. Head Start has long waiting-lists. If Republicans and some Democrats get their way, Pell grants and other educational programs will be deeply slashed. Affordable childcare and a college education will no longer be possible for many families in our country.
ENVIRONMENT AND ENERGY — Forget about the government having the ability to protect the people from corporations who want to evade Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act regulations. With massive cuts in the EPA, the resources will not be there. Forget about this country having the investment capability to transform our energy system to energy efficiency and sustainable energy. Forget about creating millions of jobs rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure and improving our public transportation system.
We don't have to make these cuts. Adopting a fair budget plan which ends tax breaks for the wealthy and large corporations and makes real cuts in military spending is the kind of shared sacrifice that the American people want