Amid reports today that House Republicans may move to privatize Medicare, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown today attended the inaugural meeting of the Senate Social Security Caucus, where he underscored efforts to protect Social Security and ensure its solvency for future generations.
"With Republican efforts to privatize Medicare on the way and talk of ratcheting back Social Security, it's more important than ever to protect the two key pillars of our nation's retirement system. Social Security will without a doubt be next on the chopping block," Brown said. "Americans know that Social Security is an independent program carefully designed not to affect the federal budget. When will Republican lawmakers come up to speed? It's a successful program that's critical to nearly two million Ohioans. It must be protected rather than targeted. Proposals like raising the retirement age even further may sound okay to conservative Washington politicians in a House hearing room, but they're a non-starter for Ohioans who work on their feet. And privatizing Social Security--or Medicare--is unacceptable."
Brown has long been active in efforts to protect Social Security from privatization, and has worked to ensure that seniors can continue to afford necessities like prescription drugs despite the lack of cost-of-living-adjustments (COLA) that Social Security recipients have faced for the past two years. Brown strongly pushed for legislation to give a one-time, $250 check to Social Security recipients to help offset the rising cost of prescription drugs and other necessities.
In October, Brown was one of six senators to send a letter to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) asking him to support legislation that would provide Social Security recipients with an emergency $250 payment in lieu of a COLA increase. According to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, health care spending, projected to increase by 4.2 percent in 2011, already consumes close to 45 percent of seniors' spending.
As of 2009, the median retiree Social Security benefit is $14,000. Social Security lifts more than half a million Ohio seniors out of poverty.
Other members of the Social Security Caucus who attended today's meeting are Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Charles Schumer (D-NY), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Barbara Boxer (D-CA), and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI).