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Kelly Ayotte Votes Against New Hampshire’s Best Interests In Budget

Senator Kelly Ayotte 2 (Gage Skidmore)

Senator Kelly Ayotte at CPAC in 2013 (Image by Gage Skidmore FLIKR)

As the Senate wrapped up a slew of budget amendment votes Kelly Ayotte’s priorities were on full display, and now she has to begin the difficult work of trying to explain her indefensible votes to her constituents back home.

Below is just a sampling of where Kelly Ayotte voted against New Hampshire’s best interests:

  • Voted against an amendment to prevent companies from getting tax benefits for shipping jobs overseas. Over 106,000 jobs in New Hampshire are at risk of being outsourced
  • Opposed an amendment to adopt the Paycheck Fairness Act to give women more tools to fight pay discrimination.
  • Voted against measures to protect Social Security against privatization and benefit cuts and prevent Medicare from being turned into a voucher program
  • Voted against an amendment that would let young people refinance their student loans, which would help 129,000 borrowers in New Hampshire, and against restoring cuts to the Pell Grant program
  • Opposed a measure to provide two free years of community college by raising revenue through requiring millionaires and billionaires to pay their fair share of taxes

Kelly Ayotte’s priorities are clear, and New Hampshire students, seniors families and workers don’t make the list.

“If anyone wasn’t clear about how extreme Kelly Ayotte truly is, they don’t need to look any further than her votes on this budget against New Hampshire students, seniors, families and workers,” said Sadie Weiner, DSCC National Press Secretary. “New Hampshire voters deserve better than Kelly Ayotte’s refusal to stand up for their best interests and they’ll hold her accountable in 2016.”

These are not the priorities of New Hampshire working families.  These are the priorities of the rich, elite 1% who want to take more from the hard working middle class and refuse to pay their fair share.

“From voting to protect tax benefits for companies that outsource jobs to opposing a measure that would let young people refinance their student loans, Kelly Ayotte proved once again that her focus in Washington is looking out for her special interest allies and not the best interests of New Hampshire,” said New Hampshire Democratic Party Chair Ray Buckley.

This budget will not help Granite State families, it will only hurt them.  Slashing social programs that low income families rely on, reducing benefits to seniors who are already struggling to pay their bills on a fixed income, and gives more tax breaks to wealthy corporations who skirt paying their fair share in taxes.

It is obvious that Senator Ayotte is more interested in following her out of touch party leadership than doing what is right for New Hampshire families.  She is also setting herself up nicely for a potential GOP Vice President nomination, building a hefty war chest and voting right down party lines.

Kuster Statement on Passage of Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015

Washington, DC – This afternoon, Congresswoman Annie Kuster (NH-02) released the following statement regarding the passage of the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Actof 2015, which would end the threat of harmful cuts to Medicare reimbursements and prevent millions of children from losing access to health insurance:

 

“Since taking office, I’ve made fighting to protect Medicare one of my top priorities. Today, I was proud to join an overwhelming majority of members from both sides of the aisle in passing legislation to replace the broken Sustainable Growth Rate formula – which threatened to prevent many Granite State seniors from continuing to see their own doctors – with a new model that protects access to care for our seniors, ensures cost-savings, and most importantly, helps support the sustainability of Medicare for generations to come. 

 

“This bill also included important measures to protect the Granite State’s most vulnerable: it will extend the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) for two years and prevent millions of children from losing access to health care, expand funding for Community Health Centers (CHC), and protect vital assistance for low-income seniors.

 

“This is not a perfect bill, and I will continue to fight for a long-term extension of the Children’s Health Insurance Program. But this legislation will help protect access to medical care for older Americans and shore up Medicare for future generations, and I look forward to working with my colleagues in the Senate to improve this bill and see it signed into law.”

Leo W Gerard: The GOP Has Money To Kill

John Boehner and Mitch McConnell (FLIKR CC Peter Stevens)

John Boehner and Mitch McConnell (FLIKR CC Peter Stevens)

By Leo W Gerard, President of the United Steelworkers

Shock and awe describes the budgets issued last week by Republicans in the House and Senate. The shock is that the GOP never stops trying to destroy beloved programs like Medicare. Awe inspiring is their audacity in describing their killing plans as moral.

When the House released its budget last Tuesday, Georgia Republican Rep. Rob Woodall said, “A budget is a moral document; it talks about where your values are.” His chamber’s spending plan shows that Republicans highly value war and place no value on health care for America’s elderly, working poor and young adults.

The opposite of win-win, the GOP budgets are kill-kill. Despite the GOP’s successful demand in 2011 for spending caps, Republicans now want more money for the military. War kills, as too many families of troops deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan know. By contrast, Republicans gouge domestic spending, condemning Americans to die unnecessarily from untreated disease. The GOP intends to revoke the health insurance of tens of millions by repealing the Affordable Care Act, voucherizing Medicare and slashing Medicaid. The Republican plans mandate overtime for the Grim Reaper.

2015-03-22-1427043255-1264135-TheGOPHasMoneytoBurngraphic.jpg

Shock and awe was the euphemism the military used as it launched war in Iraq. The focus on fireworks obscured death and dismemberment on the ground. Republicans try the same gimmick with their 10-year budgets. They employ perky language to conceal the casualties they would cause.

The House GOP called its document “A Balanced Budget for a Stronger America.” Republicans see strength only in a fat military, not in healthy Americans. The House and Senate Republicans evade the sequester spending caps by giving an additional$38 billion to the military through a war account not subject to limits.

The euphemism House Republicans use to distract attention from the $150 billion they cut from Medicare is “premium care.” It’s a scheme to give less to seniors newly qualifying for Medicare. They’d voucherize Medicare for new qualifiers and call it “premium,” even though Americans have loudly protested and Congress has soundly rejected the scam every time Republican Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin proposed it in the past.

What “premium care” really means is underfunded vouchers. Republicans cut money from Medicare then give seniors “vouchers” to buy their own health insurance on the open market. Americans know those cheap vouchers won’t cover the full cost, forcing seniors to pay thousands they don’t have each year for their doctors’ visits, arthritis medications and flu shots.  It’s really “premium uncare,” and Senate Republicans know that, so they didn’t propose it. They simply cut $430 billion from Medicare.

Enacted into law, the “premium uncare” scam would cost lives. As seniors delayed seeing doctors and scrimped on their diabetes and high blood pressure medication to save money, some would die. Sending grandma to an early grave is a price House Republicans are willing to pay.

Both the House and Senate Republican budgets would repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA). That would cancel the health insurance of millions who got coverage through the ACA Medicaid expansion adopted by 29 states and the District of Columbia. It would cancel the health insurance of more than 16.4 million Americans who got covered through the exchanges and other ACA measures.  Altogether, the Obama administration estimates that the ACA repeal and broader Medicaid cuts proposed in the Republican budgets will deny health insurance to 37 million.

The ACA decreased the percentage of Americans without health insurance to 13.2.  Republicans, who offer no plan at all to replace the insurance they intend to seize, would increase the percentage of Americans without coverage back up to 20, where it was before the ACA.

Everyone would be affected. Without the ACA, insurers would once again be able to deny coverage to people with pre-existing conditions like asthma and diabetes. They’d once again be able to cap benefits so that sickly newborns and victims of recurring cancers would lose coverage. Insurers would dump the young adults that the ACA now covers under their parents’ plans to age 26.

More than 9,800 Americans would die unnecessarily each year if they could not get insurance through the Affordable Care Act. That’s the estimate that multiple public health scholars and the American Public Health Association provided to the U.S. Supreme Court as it considers overturning part of the law.  Other estimates of needless deaths are much higher.

The House and Senate GOP budgets also brutalize Medicaid funding, then turn the program over to the states to administer. After slashing $913 billion, the House GOP describes dumping the program on the states like this: “Our budget realigns the relationship the federal government has with states and local communities by respecting and restoring the principle of federalism.”

House Republicans “respect” the right of impoverished old and disabled people to try to survive without Medicaid insurance by eliminating funding for it. The Senate GOP was less “respectful,” slashing funding for Medicaid by only $400 billion and retaining coverage for low-income elderly and disabled people.

While asserting their budgeting morality, Republicans fail to mention that their “balanced” spending plans are propped up by $2 trillion in revenue from ACA taxesthat the GOP intends to repeal along with the ACA.  The GOP would use the money that it will magically receive from repealed health care taxes to pay for an additional $38 billion in military weapons in their magically balanced budgets.

The Republican budgets embody their values: they want tax dollars to kill, not heal.

Shea-Porter Endorsed by the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare

Organization Chooses Shea-Porter Over Guinta for November 4th Election

MANCHESTER—The National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare (NCPSSM), a nonpartisan organization representing millions of members nationwide, has endorsed Carol Shea-Porter for re-election to Congress in New Hampshire’s First District.

ARA -Carol Shea Porter Endorsement 4“As a former social worker, senior center director, and a caregiver to her parents, Carol knows how vital seniors’ earned benefits are, and she’s fighting to protect them. She will keep working to strengthen and defend these programs, and will always oppose Frank Guinta’s reckless plans to voucherize Medicare and cut Social Security,” said Shea-Porter spokeswoman Marjorie Connolly.

NCPSSM President Max Richtman said, “Our nation needs your continued leadership, vision and determination to fight for working families and older Americans. You earned the endorsement of the National Committee because you understand and support the critical roles that Social Security and Medicare play in the retirement and health security of our nation’s older citizens and their families.”

During the 2014 election cycle, Shea-Porter has earned endorsements from a number of senior advocacy groups, including the Alliance for Retired Americans and Senior Votes Count.

Full text of the NCPSSM Endorsement Letter:

Dear Congresswoman Shea-Porter:

The National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare, on behalf of its millions of members and supporters, enthusiastically endorses your candidacy for re-election to the United States House of Representatives.

Our nation needs your continued leadership, vision and determination to fight for working families and older Americans. You earned the endorsement of the National Committee because you understand and support the critical roles that Social Security and Medicare play in the retirement and health security of our nation’s older citizens and their families. You are well-prepared to serve the needs of seniors and their families and will continue to make the preservation of Social Security and Medicare a priority in office.

You understand that renewed calls to privatize Social Security would undermine the nation’s most successful social insurance program. You appreciate that Social Security has not contributed to the nation’s debt and that its modest benefits are earned and should not be cut in order to reduce spending. You recognize fully that Medicare is crucial to the health of older Americans, many of whom cannot afford higher out-of-pocket costs that some in Congress are calling for as a way of reducing federal spending while doing nothing to restrain general health care inflation. You appreciate that steps already have been taken to extend the viability of Medicare, to close the prescription drug “donut hole,” to provide preventive services without copays and deductibles, and that these noteworthy improvements should not be repealed. National Committee members and supporters want you to protect and enhance Social Security and Medicare – the twin pillars necessary to a good qualify of life for Americans of all ages – in the United States House of Representatives.

There is no membership in the nation more aware or active politically than the men and women who proudly are associated with the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare. National Committee members know they can count on you!

Sincerely,

Max Richtman
President/CEO
Chairman, NCPSSM-PAC Board of Directors

Fact-Checking Marilinda Garcia

Marilinda Garcia (Gage Skidmore CC FLIKR)

Marilinda Garcia (Gage Skidmore CC FLIKR)

FACT CHECK:  Marilinda Garcia Missing in Action in Legislature

Fact: Marilinda Garcia wants to represent New Hampshire in Washington, but as a state representative she failed to show up to vote in Concord on behalf of her Salem constituents.

Tea Party candidate Marilinda Garcia has been taken to task by New Hampshire reporters for failing to show up and vote in the New Hampshire state legislature.  In fact, Garcia has missed votes on major issues facing the state, like Medicaid expansion and casino gambling.  Over the course of her career, Garcia missed over 20 percent of roll call votes, and over 50% of votes in 2010 alone. [New Hampshire General Court Voting Record]

Annie Kuster, on the other hand, has one of the best voting records in Congress and has been present for 98.9 percent of the votes that took place during her time in Congress.

FACT CHECK:  Marilinda Garcia Misleads Voters on Medicare

Fact: Annie Kuster has never voted to cut Medicare.

In an effort to distract voters from her extreme record, Tea Party candidate Marilinda Garcia falsely claimed that Annie Kuster supports cutting billions from Medicare in order to fund the Affordable Care Act (ACA).  This false attack been consistently debunked by independent fact checkers. In fact, the ACA reduces future overpayments to private health care providers and strengthens Medicare by reducing prescription drug costs for seniors.

Kuster is the only candidate in this race with a record of protecting programs important to New Hampshire seniors, including Medicare and Social Security.  Garcia, on the other hand, voted to “privatize all aspects of Social Security.” [New Hampshire General Court, HCR39, Vote 190, 3/21/12]

FACT CHECK:  Marilinda Garcia Voted Against Fully Funding Veterans Benefits

Fact: Marilinda Garcia has a troubling record of opposing full funding for veterans programs.

In 2007, Tea Party candidate Marilinda Garcia voted against a resolution urging Congress to fully fund veterans’ benefits.  [New Hampshire General Court, HR10, Vote 71, 3/28/07]. And when asked at a recent candidates forum where she would cut the federal budget, Garcia spoke out against requests for increased funding for the Department of Veterans Affairs, despite the fact that Republicans and Democrats in the House overwhelmingly approved a recent funding increase by a vote of 420 to 5.

As a member of the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee, Kuster has advocated for newly enacted reforms to increase VA resources, hold corrupt officials accountable, and ensure New Hampshire veterans can access medical care faster and closer to home.

FACT CHECK:  Marilinda Garcia Opposes Paycheck Fairness Act

Fact: Marilinda Garcia opposes the Paycheck Fairness Act, and other efforts to support equal pay for equal work.

State representative Marilinda Garcia says she opposes the Paycheck Fairness Act, to help eliminate wage discrimination based on gender. Congresswoman Kuster has a strong record of fighting to level the playing field for Granite State women, and she is a cosponsor of the Paycheck Fairness Act.

FACT CHECK:  Marilinda Garcia Wants to Send Doctors to Jail for Performing Medical Procedures to Save a Mother’s Life

Fact: Marilinda Garcia would send doctors to jail for performing abortions – even if the procedure is necessary to save a mother’s life.

In 2008, Garcia voted to make it illegal for doctors to perform an abortion even if the life of the mother is at risk. NH1 actually did a fact check on Garcia’s position, and found that Garcia does indeed support criminalizing doctors who perform abortions, regardless of whether the mother’s life is at risk.

This position is far outside of the mainstream of New Hampshire, and would be devastating for Granite State women and their families. No doctor should ever be sent to jail for attempting to save the life of a mother. But Garcia wants to ban abortions with no exceptions – even in the cases of rape, incest, and saving the life of the mother. She is simply too extreme for New Hampshire.

FACT CHECK:  Marilinda Garcia Misleads Voters on Record on Rail Infrastructure

Fact: Marilinda Garcia claimed she wanted to know whether the proposed commuter rail project was “feasible,” yet voted to repeal the New Hampshire Rail Transit Authority when it was conducting the feasibility study for the project. [New Hampshire General Court, HB218, Vote 105, 3/17/11]

National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare Endorses Jeanne Shaheen

NCPSSM Highlights Shaheen’s Work Protecting Social Security and Medicare, Brown’s Record Siding With Corporate Interests Over Seniors

Scott Brown Voted For Partisan Budget That Cut Social Security and Medicare But Supported Special Breaks for Big Oil, Wall Street and Companies that Outsource American Jobs

Today, the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare endorsed New Hampshire Senator Jeanne Shaheen for reelection, citing her efforts to protect Social Security and Medicare and helping ensure that seniors get the secure retirement they deserve. The committee also highlighted Scott Brown’s votes to cut Social Security and Medicare, while supporting special breaks for Big Oil, Wall Street and companies that ship jobs overseas.

“I will always stand up for our seniors and middle class families here in New Hampshire,” said Shaheen. “I’m proud to have opposed cuts to Social Security and Medicare at every turn because I know we shouldn’t be balancing our budget on the backs of seniors.”

“Scott Brown didn’t just vote to cut Social Security and Medicare, he did so while also supporting billions of dollars in special breaks for Wall Street, Big Oil, and companies that ship jobs overseas. Our seniors deserve better,” Shaheen added.

“Our organization is proud to stand with a true champion of New Hampshire’s seniors,” said Max Richtman, President and CEO of the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare. “While Scott Brown’s record shows he can’t be trusted to protect Social Security and Medicare, Senator Jeanne Shaheen has earned our endorsement because we know she will always fight to protect and strengthen these vital programs.”

Jeanne Shaheen knows that New Hampshire’s seniors deserve to retire with dignity and with the confidence that Social Security and Medicare will be preserved. In the Senate, Shaheen opposed a proposal that would cut to Social Security benefits for seniors, and she is also an original cosponsor of the Medicare Protection Act, which would stop Republicans in Washington from turning the program into a voucher system.

When Scott Brown was in the U.S. Senate, he supported a Republican budget that would have forced deep cuts to Social Security and Medicare. Brown has also said he is open to partially privatizing Social Security. And unlike Jeanne Shaheen, Brown supports a proposal that would result in Social Security benefit cuts for New Hampshire seniors.

Meanwhile, Scott Brown supported nearly $19 billion in special breaks for Wall Street and more than $20 billion in tax breaks for the country’s largest oil companies, which made more than $90 billion in profits last year.

Guinta Voted For Budget That Was Too Extreme For The Majority Of The GOP

Guinta 2010 - 2 (Image by Jason Meserve)

Guinta 2010 – 2 (Image by Jason Meserve)

Shea-Porter Campaign Highlights Most Extreme Republican Study Committee Budget Provisions

MANCHESTER—Today, the Carol Shea-Porter campaign released a list of the most extreme provisions that Frank Guinta supported when he voted for the Republican Study Committee Budgets, known as Paul Ryan’s Republican budget “on steroids.” [RSC FY 2012 Vote, RSC FY 2013 Vote]

“Frank Guinta showed his true colors when he voted for an extreme Tea Party budget that even the majority of his fellow Republicans couldn’t stomach,” said Shea-Porter spokeswoman Marjorie Connolly. “Frank Guinta’s Republican budgets on steroids would decimate investments in the middle class in order to slash Social Security, voucherize Medicare, end investments in our communities, and hand out huge tax breaks to big corporations and billionaires. Guinta’s radical right-wing beliefs would have put New Hampshire’s jobs and our seniors’ retirement security in jeopardy.”

Here are the most extreme provisions of Guinta’s Republican Study Committee Budgets:

Voucherize Medicare Even Faster

Guinta’s Tea Party budgets would have implemented a Medicare voucher program even sooner than the Ryan Republican budget, and would raise the eligibility age for Medicare for those who were born after 1952 [The Hill, 4/8/11].

Raise the Social Security Age While Slashing Benefits

The 2012 Tea Party budget would have raised the Social Security eligibility age to 70 by 2045, resulting in a 20% cut in benefits for seniors [Ways and Means Committee Democrats, 4/13/11].

Expand Corporate Welfare

The Tea Party budgets would have cut both the corporate and top tax rate by nearly 30%. Guinta’s tax plan would even make it easier for American corporations to move jobs overseas and avoid paying U.S. taxes [Bipartisan Policy Center, 4/4/12] [Center for American Progress, 7/16/12].

Deregulate the Big Banks

Proving that Guinta sides with big banks at the expense of middle-class American consumers, his 2013 Tea Party budget would eliminate the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the watchdog responsible for cracking down on abusive banking practices and predatory lenders [FY2013 RSC Budget].

Decimate Education Funding

The 2013 RSC budget would have cut $104 billion from Pell Grants and $47 billion from student loan programs [Bipartisan Policy Center, 4/4/12].

End Local Community Investments

The 2013 RSC budget would eliminate the Economic Development Administration, which works for small businesses and local communities in New Hampshire.

If the EDA were eliminated, the City of Rochester would not have gotten a $1.9 million grant that Carol Shea-Porter secured to fund the “construction of water and sewer infrastructure to … serve as a catalyst for expansion of existing businesses, new business development, and opportunities for job creation to replace almost 500 jobs lost due to the recent closure of several manufacturing companies.” [EDA.gov; FY2013 RSC Budget Blueprint]

The Future Of Social Security And Medicare Are At The Forefront This Election

New Hampshire senior citizens, their families, and neighbors should do their homework and vote in self-defense on November 4th!  Some candidates running for federal office are on record as supporting cuts to our Social Security and Medicare. They say our safety net is going broke. Some want these programs to go away completely, being replaced by vouchers and Wall Street accounts. Others propose cuts using the Chained Consumer Price Index, and repeal of the Affordable Care Act, including the prescription drug donut hole fix and no co-pay preventative care additions.

But Social Security is not going broke, and a few changes that would be good for all of us would be good for the Social Security Trust Fund as well: raise the minimum wage, enact paycheck equity laws at the federal level (thank you NH for doing this for women here), create more and better paying jobs, and raising or getting rid of the cap on the income that is subject to the FICA tax, now set at $117,000.  Each of these means not only more money for retiree earned benefits, but also more money in the trust fund today.

Medicare’s cost curve is bending down due in part to the changes in the Affordable Care Act. Costs for healthcare for everyone are not rising anywhere near as quickly, and as healthcare providers work for quality care rather than quantity care, costs will continue to ease. We can provide great preventative care and make sure that we aren’t getting procedures and prescriptions that we don’t need, and stay healthier longer.

One in five New Hampshire residents got Social Security benefits in 2013, bringing $4.1 billion dollars in income into our state.  Over 231,000 of us receive Medicare benefits, allowing us to remain healthy and contribute to our communities.

These earned benefits mean that families and communities do not have to worry about carrying the full cost of housing, food and healthcare for those who are retired or disabled. Before we had Social Security and Medicare, half the seniors in our country lived in poverty, and many died what we would consider today premature deaths. Families struggled to support those who could no longer work.

Today the income from these benefits is spent in our communities, supporting the businesses here. Without the income from Social Security and the healthcare savings from Medicare, how will our economy replace the customers with money to spend that provide the “demand” side of supply and demand?  Replacing the $4.1 billion dollars that comes from those 1 in every 5 New Hampshire residents isn’t going to be easy, and our state is growing older every year. Do we really want to do that to our economy?

Healthy and secure seniors provide many hours of volunteer time, the unpaid work that we depend on to run our municipalities, among other efforts. Our school boards, selectboards, planning boards, conservation commissions, and others are either paid a small stipend or serve for free.  Retirees volunteer in schools, at churches, and even as $100 a year legislators! Sometimes it seems that New Hampshire runs on volunteer power!

The New Hampshire Alliance for Retired Americans has joined our national Alliance in endorsing Senator Jeanne Shaheen, and Congresswomen Carol Shea-Porter and Ann McLane Kuster for re-election this November.  All three were endorsed for their work to preserve and protect our senior safety net for all New Hampshire citizens, retirees of today and our children and grandchildren.

Be sure you check out the candidates before you vote!  Look at voting records, if they have served before (http://retiredamericans.org/issues/congressional-voting-record).  See what they have said in this and past campaigns. Make sure you know who is really on our side and vote in self-defense!

Lucy Edwards

New Hampshire Alliance for Retired Americans

When Will Senator Ayotte Start Listening To The People On Protecting Our Earned Benefits?

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. 

Image and rights from the  NHARA

Image from the NH ARA

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.

Sincerely,
Kelly A. Ayotte
U. S. Senator

Richard Trumka on Social Security and Medicare Trustees Reports

Today’s reports from the Social Security and Medicare Trustees have good news for all Americans: Social Security and Medicare will be there for us and our families if elected leaders listen to the American people and reject calls to cut benefits.  Instead of undermining these crucial programs, we must build on their success and adopt measures to strengthen and expand them.

The Trustees’ reported improvements for Medicare are a positive development for anyone who pays for health care, because they are driven by expected slower growth in health spending in the short run. This reminds us that we have a health care cost problem, not a Medicare problem.  Strengthening Medicare for the long run means bringing health care cost growth under control throughout our economy.

America’s most important retirement program will remain strong for many more years to come, unchanged from last year’s report.  It has become increasingly clear, however, that strengthening Social Security for the future must include improvements in benefits.  Social Security remains the sole retirement income plan that is broadly available and that Americans can count on to provide secure lifetime benefits.

The Social Security Trustees reported once again that the Disability Trust Fund can pay full benefits until 2016, with enough revenue after that time to cover about 80 percent of promised benefits.  Congress should act soon to ensure disabled workers and their families will continue to receive the benefits they have earned.  This can be done by allocating a larger share of current payroll tax contributions to the Disability program, as has been done many times before.  Congress should reject calls to misuse this opportunity to undermine the sole source of disability income protection that is working well for America’s families.

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