Editor’s Note: Below is a cross-post from the NH Alliance for Retired Americans who have been working over the last year to meet with and talk to Senator Ayotte. I believe Sen. Ayotte’s office has met with them once, they are obviously not listening to what the people are saying. When I wrote to Sen. Ayotte about protecting Social Security and Medicare, I got the exact same form letter that Lucy attached below.
Senator Ayotte, You Are Not Listening
Written by Lucy Edwards
President of the NH Alliance for Retired Americans
Posted on the NH ARA Blog
I received an e-mail letter from Senator Ayotte on the subject of Social Security and Medicare (or as she calls them, “entitlements.”) I would like to suggest to her that if she REALLY is interested in making sure that these earned benefit programs are available into the future, she consider some really simple solutions.
First, to fund the Social Security Trust Fund so that it can pay benefits indefinitely, we could do some combination of the following:
- Raise the minimum wage. If incomes are higher, payments into the trust fund are higher.
- Raise the income cap. If higher earners have to pay on more of their earnings, the payments into the trust fund will be higher.
- Pass the Paycheck Fairness Act. If women earn more, their payments into the trust fund will be higher.
- Vote for infrastructure funding and other stimulus programs to raise the number of jobs and the pay for workers. If more people are working, and making decent incomes, the payments into the trust fund will be higher. AND life both today and in retirement will be much better for ALL Americans.
I would also remind her that the Affordable Care Act is already lowering the rate of growth of healthcare costs, including Medicare. More preventative care, less spending on high cost procedures, correcting the overpayments for Medicare Advantage policies, and reining in fraud will help keep costs under control. Don’t repeal the ACA!
We could also discuss the use of the national debt (for which Republican presidents are mostly responsible) as a straw man (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Straw_man) but we will leave that for another discussion.
Here is her letter:
Thank you for contacting me regarding entitlement reform, particularly as it relates to Medicare and Social Security. I appreciate hearing from you.
Our $17 trillion national debt threatens not only our economic prosperity but also our security and sovereignty. I believe that it is my responsibility to analyze the underlying problems perpetuating the unsustainable growth in our federal debt and to make a real effort to solve them. This includes evaluating all areas of the federal budget to determine where appropriate reductions can be made and making the necessary reforms to entitlement programs to ensure they are solvent for current and future generations.
Spending for major health and retirement programs, including Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, will increase in coming decades, putting greater pressure on the rest of the federal budget. According to the Office of Management and Budget, in fiscal year (FY) 2013, 66 percent of all federal spending was on entitlement programs, net interest, and other social safety net programs. Unless significant actions are taken to address these programs’ structural problems, Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid will grow to consume every dollar of revenue raised by the government.
I also understand the importance of these programs and am aware of how many Americans rely on Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. As baby boomers continue to retire, health care costs and Social Security outlays will rise.
According to the most recent Medicare Trustees report, the Medicare Hospital Insurance (HI) Trust Fund has been running cash flow deficits since 2008. The only thing keeping the program afloat financially is the sale of Treasury bonds in the Medicare Trust Fund – deficit spending. According to the report, the Medicare HI Trust Fund will be insolvent by 2030.
In addition, the Social Security Trustees report that the Social Security program is now in a permanent cash flow deficit, meaning that as baby boomers retire, the Trust Funds are obligated to pay out more benefits than there are incoming payroll taxes. This means that to pay benefits, the government must cut spending, raise taxes, or borrow more money from overseas to finance payments. The Trustees estimate that the Social Security Trust Funds will have a shortfall of $9.6 trillion over the next 75 years and will be exhausted in 2033. This means that in just 20 years beneficiaries would have to see a 23 percent benefit cut.
I believe we need to ensure the long-term viability of entitlement programs. In strengthening entitlements, we should ensure that those in or near retirement will not be negatively impacted by any reforms. However, the longer we put off reforming entitlements, the more difficult changes will be on those nearing retirement. In order to strengthen entitlements, members of both parties will need to muster the political courage to stop putting off the tough decisions that need to be made in order to preserve these programs and protect the economic strength of our country.
Again, thank you for taking the time to contact me. As your Senator, it is important for me to hear from you regarding the current issues affecting New Hampshire and our nation. Please do not hesitate to be in touch again if I may be of further assistance.
Kelly A. Ayotte
U. S. Senator