Government Watch / Politics

A Budget that Works for Seniors: House GOP takes Bold Steps Forward to Guarantee Retirement Programs

By – Peter A. Finocchio

On Tuesday, the House Budget Committee unveiled its proposal for the FY 2016 budget. Budget Committee Chairman Tom Price (R-GA) held a press conference to discuss what the new budget means for the American people. Chairman Price argued that instead of the “insecurity of the President’s plan,” the House budget confronts the nation’s needs with “real hope and real optimism.” The budget promises to save $5.5 trillion and balance in ten years without raising taxes. Like the budget proposed by the Committee’s former chairman, Congressman Paul Ryan (R-WI), the new House budget promises a path to prosperity. “We responsibly lay out a plan for a healthy economy, an opportunity economy,” Chairman Price stated. The new budget is named “A Balanced Budget for a Stronger America.”

Individual Members spoke to different aspects of the budget during the press conference. “We spent hours of Member meetings putting this budget together,” the Committee’s Vice Chairman Todd Rokita (R-IN) noted. The ten-year path to a balanced budget “is the quickest of any of the recently passed house budgets and it is also a very stark contrast to the President’s budget that never balances,” the Indiana Republican added. Congressman Rob Woodall (R-GA) discussed how the new House budget would fuel economic growth. “A budget is a moral document,” Congressman Woodall said. “It talks about what your values are and what this Committee values are opportunities for job creation.” By providing certainty in the tax code, getting government spending under control, and altering the distorted incentives for unemployment in the welfare state, the new budget creates opportunities for work, job creation, and financial security. Congresswoman Diane Black (R-TN), a former nurse of over 40 years, discussed the full repeal of ObamaCare that is included in this budget. In eliminating the fiscal and economic burdens of ObamaCare’s mandates, empowering the states to adopt meaningful reforms, and setting the stage for responsible, patient-centered reform, the House budget gets Americans back on the road to the quality health care we need. In its scope, the House budget is more than just a budget: it is a blueprint for conservative governance.

The House GOP budget takes aggressive action to rein in out-of-control spending and balance the budget. Bolder still are the recommended reforms to America’s ailing entitlements. “We save and strengthen Medicare and Medicaid without leading them on the path to insolvency that the President’s budget would have,” Chairman Price affirmed. The proposal notes that in Medicare’s current structure, government, not the patient, is the health care customer. The House budget would end this fee-for-service model and place patients, not government, at the center of health care decisions. The House Budget Committee proposes a premium support program in Medicare that would allow beneficiaries to choose from a range of guaranteed-coverage options, including traditional Medicare. The changes would not take effect until 2024 so that those in or near retirement would not be impacted, but it would result in greater quality care and health care affordability for tomorrow’s seniors. In September 2013, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) found that such a program would result in savings for beneficiaries as well as the federal government.

For Medicaid, the proposal offers equally bold solutions. The House proposal repeals the Medicaid expansion under ObamaCare and grants flexibility to the states to meet their own needs. Through the appropriation of State Flexibility Funds, it effectively block grants Medicaid to the states, eliminating a flawed one-size-fits-all approach and resulting in greater efficiency and access to care. It also combines the Medicaid and State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) into a single program. Such a change would enable state governments to expand coverage for populations that need it, implement work requirements for the able-bodied, promote personal responsibility and healthy behaviors, and encourage a more holistic approach to care that considers economic, social, and family concerns as well as health conditions.

After the press conference, Congressmen Price and Woodall hosted a Google hangout wherein they answered a variety of questions about the budget proposal. “We believe the government ought to be no different than you in your personal lives” Chairman Price explained during the online forum. “We believe the government shouldn’t spend more than it takes in.” AMAC had the opportunity to ask the leaders a question during the hangout. The question, offered by AMAC President Dan Weber, pertained to an issue that is our top advocacy priority and a concern that most seniors share: the looming insolvency of Social Security. With Social Security’s disability program projected to become insolvent by the end of 2016, we asked if this budget compels Congress to introduce long-term legislative solutions to preserve and protect not just the disability program, but also the general retirement program. Congressman Woodall reiterated the mounting Social Security crisis. “More young Americans believe they are going to see a UFO in their lifetime than see Social Security,” he shared. Congressman Woodall noted that one of the first actions the House took this year was to pass a rule preventing legislators from diverting funds from the retirement program to the disability program without working to address Social Security’s long-term finances. “When our friends on the other side of the aisle lay out a budget they never address the insolvency of these programs,” Chairman Price added. While the budget’s proposal for Social Security is less detailed than its recommendations for Medicare and Medicaid reform, it calls for a bipartisan commission to study the structural flaws within the current Social Security system and report back to Congress and the President with specific legislative proposals.

AMAC applauds the bold leadership of the House Budget Committee in their plan to balance the federal budget and achieve lasting solutions to our nation’s entitlement programs. As an organization that represents 1.3 million Americans over the age of 50, we know how essential these programs are. Most older Americans depend on Social Security as their sole source of income in retirement. But Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid are all on the path to insolvency, and in the absence of swift systemic solutions to save and secure the programs, they will face cuts that will devastate current as well as future retirees. The House Budget Committee’s very serious efforts to preserve and protect senior programs and to put America on a path toward greater financial and economic prosperity are worth considering.

The complete proposal from the House Budget Committee can be found here: http://budget.house.gov/uploadedfiles/fy16budget.pdf

For a complete recording of Tuesday’s press conference, please click here: http://www.c-span.org/video/?324868-1/house-budget-committee-news-conference-fiscal-year-2016-budget-resolution

 

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Jim Monson says
6 years ago

I like a balanced budget. I have to do this in my household, why not have those who govern us do the same with our tax dollars. After all it is our money they are spending? I also believe we can slow the growth of demand for medical care for those who now get it for free. It’s called CO-PAY. Even a small five dollar co-pay would stop those going to emergency rooms for the sniffles. Maybe a small five dollar co-pay would also work for those who use Medicare and Medicaid. Five dollars would stop the free loaders, without stopping the ones in real need of care.
As for Social Security, we need someone with some wherewithal to come up with a money cure for that program. I wish I had had the chance to invest in my own plan vs pay into the government plan for all of my working life. I see how good compounded interests works over the long run. I would have been able to retire sooner, and with a much higher monthly return. then, when I die, I would be able to leave my heirs something more than the $250.00 burial out of the existing government plan. I hope we can get enough law makers to see this our way. We need to fix these programs now, or we won’t be able to have them around in the near future. I would like to think someone back in the beltway will finally get their act together. Let’s write to all of them, or call them and give them a message they can’t just toss in the circular file, or put us on hold.

steven Jacobs
6 years ago

Get rid of the so called “disability” payments and put that tax money towards the social security RETIREMENT fund for RETIRED people over 62. The disability program is 80% scam and should be discontinued.

John B
6 years ago

These and any other budgets that saves money and tries to reduce the deficit are simply wishful thinking. These budgets
are constructed to fail and give the impression that “we tried but them bad Democrats stopped us”. First of all repealing
Obamacare is a budget stopper to begin with.

What the Republicans need to do, but will not do, is to get the message out to the people by releasing some of their money
for half hour TV coverage to explain what will happen if government keeps spending foolishly. They need a charismatic individual who can clearly and concisely explain the need for the budget. The speech should be written at least weeks in
advance and kept secret.

Maybe, if the Republicans played hardball and extended the debt ceiling only until the budget was due they could
have some leverage. If they passed a bill prior to closing down the government that would not allow government workers
to get back pay but funded the military and other important functions of government such as social security and the FBI,
they could get a budget passed after several weeks of a government shutdown. The weaklings in the party would destroy
the solidarity needed to get anything done. The Republicans would once again come off as the bad guys and nothing would get accomplished.

You can probably sense my frustration with government. We have a great country that will probably perish because of
being over governed and over taxed.

wilbert Jennings
6 years ago

Simply write a check with interest for the monies I have paid into social security since I was 15 and I will take care of myself. The government robbed social security because it had a surplus from those that paid that died and didn’t collect. The government gets their cost of living every year and pay raises without the consent of we the citizens.They go so far as to rob America after they leave their job with a guaranteed salary when we are guaranteed nothing, bailouts didn’t keep me from loosing my home and vehicle as well as career as a builder. They did help the board members for GM at our expense. This government has the attitude that the average citizen is a peasant much like old England and the monarchy that abused the citizens by taxing and working them to death. We are the citizens that make up America and had better take it back while there’s still something left to protect.

LTB
6 years ago

Don’t hear much conversation about cutting out the waste and fraud abuse in Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security.
This has been around for years; consequently, no one will go after this or do anything to stop it. How about the number
of Social Security payments to resipients aged 112 and older? This fraud and abuse needs to be addressed now and action taken to stop it. The problem is the governement doesn’t want to do anything to stop it.

PaulE
6 years ago
Reply to  LTB

LTB,

The problem is that any talk in Washington on that is simply that…just talk. When it comes to really doing something to proactively to address waste, fraud and abuse in any government program, not just Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, all that ever happens is a few “Congressional meetings” and a few nice speeches. There are very few politicians in Washington that are willing to really take on the issue head on. Those that are willing to take on the status quo are quickly marginalized by political leadership on both sides. It’s not like this is some insurmountable problem that requires years and years of ongoing study and analysis to come up with a solution. It’s not! The solutions are all straightforward, but not politically expedient. So nothing gets done.

As an example on the obvious age issue you highlighted, it wouldn’t take much effort to run a scan of the three major databases associated with Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security for anyone listed over say the age of 95. The lists generated could then be cross-referenced against local records to verify the person is still alive. For the 5 to 10 percent of those on the list that require a follow-up call or visit from someone from CMS to verify identity and life, that’s something that could be accomplished nationwide in 60 to 90 days. OK, maybe 6 months because it’s the federal government and they move incredibly slow. Nothing onerous or massively time consuming that prevents the resolution of this issue. The problem is that while a number of politicians are willing to point out the many examples of waste, fraud and abuse of various federal programs, very few are willing and able to do anything to fix it.

Any conversations that involve Social Security here quickly devolve into variations of “I paid into the program for 40 years and I want my money back” or “The government should just give us all back the money they’ve stolen over the decades.” In short, rants not based on either how the program really works (it’s a pay-go system, not a personal savings / retirement account) or grounded in any financial reality (there is NO money to repay anything to anyone). So do we really need yet another week of that? Just a thought.

Rik
6 years ago

I quit reading this article when I got to the part saying that Rep. Dianne Black (R-Tenn) wants to repeal Obamacare. Waste of time and energy, Obama will only veto it. They could have stopped Obamacare in its tracks by not funding it! But, then again, they have no backbone and fear the negative media outcry instead of pointing out they were only doing what we, the people, elected them to do in the first place, which I might point out, is the very platform they ran on that got them elected! Politicians, ALL worthless, especially if they ever attended law school where they excelled in learning to lie.

PaulE
6 years ago
Reply to  Rik

I have to pretty much agree with you RIK that this may be a nice budget proposal, but Obama will never sign off on it. At the end of the day, what will happen is Congress will buckle and vote for yet another endless budget extension of what is already going on. That is unless the Republicans leadership feels compelled to cave in and repeal parts of the sequester too.

That anyone from the Republican side of Congress is still seriously talking about the full repeal of Obamacare is just playing to the emotions of the voters. They had multiple opportunities to defund Obamacare before it ever went live, but in every case they mishandled those opportunities. The last real opportunity to kill Obamacare ended with Obama’s re-election in 2012, which cleared the way for the program to start up. Now that it is up and running, and so tightly integrated into all facets of the health care and insurance industries, it will be virtually impossible to fully dismantle. The best that can be accomplished at this point are a few minor tweaks here and there. While I would personally love to have Obamacare repealed, the reality at this point is it isn’t going to happen.

Ivan Berry
6 years ago
Reply to  PaulE

Rik and PaulE, I didn’ even get as far as Rik before I left the art to read your comments. I must agree, that it’s all about symbolism over substance. The Repubs have joined the Demos in just about everything, including “appearances.” It’s a lot like, instead of doing it, just say you did.
Rik, did you see my comment about Ben Franklin’s take on the oyster ownership in dispute last week.? Thought you might like his take.

PaulE
6 years ago
Reply to  Ivan Berry

Yeah Ivan, it’s getting to the point where I can figure out what Boehner or McConnell is going to say before they even say it almost every time now. After all, how many different ways are there to say “I surrender” in political speak? Both of these guys can’t utter useless sound bites fast enough. The smalll group of conservatives Representatives, of which my Congressman is one, giving Boehner hell every day is just about the only sign of any real push-back to the Progressive agenda in Congress.

Robert A Hirschmann
6 years ago

Sounds good to me. However there are three major roadblocks. Bohner. Reid-er-I-mean Mcwhatever (the RINO now in charge of the senate) and Obummer. You know that Obummer will veto any bill that repeals Obama-don’t-care.

grania
6 years ago

The more the feds “help”, the worse it gets.

The best way to restore financial stability for seniors and for people to financially prepare for retirement is to restore interest rates on FDIC insured savings to at least 4%. Without the “power of compounding” the needs of seniors will only get more extreme in the future. People who are retired are being decimated by 0% interest rates.

Why not do the same thing with Medicare? Give people the money they’ve been promised because of payment into Medicare insurance. Let us choose to by Medicare Part A or Part B or the Pharmaceutical plan, or to buy no policies at all. A lot of money would be saved if people were financially accountable for their medical choices. A lot of people would opt for lifestyle or natural healing options if they were paying the bill. Then there’s a percentage of seniors who don’t want expensive health care and there’s those who want to decide on and pay for decisions as they come up, evaluating the range of options.

It’s inherent in any system. The further the decision making and policy making is from individuals and communities, the less efficient the system will be. That’s because without individual and local scrutiny, fraud and waste happen.

PaulE
6 years ago
Reply to  grania

Well said.

Ivan Berry
6 years ago
Reply to  PaulE

Grania, that’s a good start. Did you happen to hear that if all the agencies and departments as well the Congress were limited to those provisions delegated to the central government, that 80% of the spending would be eliminated and we would operate at about 20% of the cost to run government ?
We really do have an educational task before us if we hope to make the needed changes before its forever too late.

Sylvia Hughes
6 years ago

This looks wonderful. I am not to this stage at this time, but my parents are at a stage that this would be greatly beneficial. I do not see pricing and if I wanted to purchase and install one for my parents, what would be my costs? Also, they live in a different state from me. Would that be an issue?

bob
6 years ago

Stop giving away the money we earned. And there would be plenty. You don’t put in – Don’t take out.. What we get is directly corresponding to what we put in.. Why isn’t everyone else?

Stop taking SS from our wages (if we have to keep working) when we start collecting.

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