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Public Statements

Issue Position: Protecting Social Security and Medicare

Issue Position

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Protecting Social Security

All Americans ought to seek a comfortable retirement including IRA's, 401(k)'s and similar accounts. However, any sound retirement plan starts with an inflation-adjusted lifetime annuity--a monthly check for life that you cannot lose, and you cannot outlive. This is what Social Security provides--and it thus guarantees a base level of income, even if all else fails. We should not replace a guarantee with a gamble. Brad Sherman will continue to fight plans to privatize Social Security, turn Medicare into a voucher program, or to cut benefits to those seniors who have saved for retirement.

Social Security belongs to the people who contribute, not the government. The money people put in should be protected and used only for Social Security.

"Means Testing" Means Cutting Benefits for Middle Class

Leading Republicans in the House of Representatives recently discussed the possibility of reducing Social Security benefits for those Americans with "substantial non-Social Security income". Congress should reject any proposal to turn Social Security into a Welfare program only for destitute seniors. To tell Americans that because they save for retirement they will lose their Social Security benefits is both unfair and self-defeating. To improve our economy we need to encourage savings.

Due to the proposal, middle class families do not know whether some future act of Congress will penalize them for saving for retirement. Advocates of means-testing Social Security pretend that they are only talking about taking benefits from a very few rich people. But significant savings are not available to the Social Security program, except by taking away benefits from millions of middle-class retirees.

Protecting Medicare Benefits

The official budget plan put forward by the House Minority increases the minimum age of eligibility for Medicare, and new enrollees would no longer receive coverage through the current program, but would be given a voucher to purchase private health insurance. Who knows what kind of coverage the insurance companies will offer in return for the voucher? Brad Sherman opposes efforts to create a "voucher" system that effectively eliminates Medicare's guaranteed health care benefits.

Improving Economic Security for Seniors

Currently, Medicare does not cover prescription drug costs between $2,830 and $6,440 per year. Under legislation Brad Sherman helped pass, seniors who spend more than $2,830 and are affected by the donut-hole gap will receive a one-time, non-taxable $250 payment. Medicare recipients do not have to do anything to get the $250 check--once their drug costs for the year hit $2,830, the check should be issued automatically.

Beginning next year, the costs of prescription drugs falling in the donut hole will be discounted by 50 percent, because of this legislation. The out-of-pocket costs for seniors' drug costs falling in the donut hole will be further reduced incrementally every year. In nine years, the donut hole will be eliminated entirely.


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