Today is the 53rd anniversary of President Johnson signing the Medicare Act into law. When Donald Trump ran for president, he promised voters that he was not going to make any cuts to Medicare, Medicaid or Social Security that the 1965 law created and strengthened. Based on the last two decades of Republican leadership in Washington, we should have known better.
Since 2010, budgets proposed by now-Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) have called for cuts to these vital programs that help more than 100 million Americans stay healthy, provide for themselves, and achieve dignity in retirement. The latest Republican budget introduced in Congress advances the same failed ideas.
Their budget would replace Medicare’s current guarantee of coverage with a premium support voucher – ending the program as we know it. It cuts Medicaid by imposing arbitrary, draconian caps on care and forces burdensome work requirements on Americans who need health care, not more red tape. And it strips away tax credits that help Americans afford health insurance and reduce premiums and out-of-pocket medical costs.
They say that we don’t have a choice and can’t afford these earned benefits for Americans on a fixed or limited income without making drastic cuts. A recent report by the nonpartisan Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy points out why they are scrambling to take away these benefits: they have already given the money away to the wealthiest 1 percent of Americans.
The report points out that under President George W. Bush’s tax cuts and the massive tax giveaway that President Trump signed into law in December, by 2025, Republicans will have sent a whopping $2 trillion to this small sliver of the richest Americans. In their proposed budget, Republicans in Congress are now wanting to pay for those special interest tax breaks by taking that same $2 trillion out of Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, and the Affordable Care Act.
These cuts will have a real impact on families we represent. In New Mexico, more than a million—half of all households in the state—rely on these programs to make ends meet. The same is true for more than 2 million Marylanders. Under the Republican budget, these families will now face reduced care, increased financial burdens, and many tough decisions. The Republicans’ intended trade-off means hundreds and hundreds of lower income Americans will be harmed to pay for just one wealthy recipient of their tax breaks.
We should be investing in the health and security of our families and seniors, not trying to stick them with the bill to pay for Republicans’ reckless tax giveaways and budget deficits. Democrats stand ready to strengthen Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid so they can continue to serve as a lifeline for Americans for decades to come. We are also committed to tackling the pocketbook issues that Americans care about, such as stagnant wages, skyrocketing health care premiums, and the rising cost of prescription drugs.
We recognize the need to address budget deficits. That’s one of the main reasons we were so opposed to President Trump’s unpaid-for tax giveaway. We also know that in issues of taxes and federal spending, we need a system of shared sacrifice and shared responsibility. However, asking families dependent on Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security to pay for tax breaks for the wealthiest among us—as President Trump and Republicans in Congress are asking us to do—cannot be the way to do that.