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Public Statements

Letter to President Obama

Today, U.S. Representative Diane Black (R-TN), joined 41 fellow Freshman Republicans in a letter to President Obama, asking him to "stop the political rhetoric" in order to find real solutions to our pending debt crisis. The letter comes after recent Democrat attacks against Republican plans to reform Medicare and ensure the program's solvency for future generations.

"I came to Washington to find real solutions to our nation's problems, not to score cheap political points," said Black. "So far I've held nine town hall meetings throughout the 6th District. After I tell my constituents the facts about why America is so far in debt, they understand that big changes have to be made. More and more, the discussions I have back home in Tennessee are more honest and productive than what is going on here in Washington. With this letter, I hope the president calls on his colleagues to stop the scare tactics so we can have an honest conversation about Medicare."

The letter notes the president's comments at the Republican Retreat last year, where he said, "'At what point can we have a serious conversation about Medicare and its long-term liability...or a serious conversation about budget and debt in which we're not simply trying to position ourselves politically?'"

The letter continues: "You went on to say we cannot start these discussions by framing "who's to blame,' who is "trying to hurt our senior citizens' or "how can we make the American people afraid of the other side.' During the question and answer portion of the retreat, you honorably noted that these conversations are what you are "committed to doing.' Mr. President, these were your words and now is the time to act."

The text of the letter can be found below, and in the above link.

President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20500

Dear Mr. President,

Last November, our country spoke loud and clear. The American people are demanding solutions from Washington and asking that bold and decisive action be taken to prevent another financial crisis.

At present, America's entitlement programs are in their last years of solvency. It is high time both parties come together to have a commonsense conversation to prevent the collapse of institutions on which millions of seniors rely on and save Medicare for our children and grandchildren. Inaction will mean Medicare becomes bankrupt and the reality that our generation may be the first in American history to leave the next worse off.

Clearly Washington is facing a great deal of challenges, but with these challenges come great opportunity. We are presented with the opportunity to reset the tone in Washington by ending the partisan bickering. We have all been guilty, at one time or another, of playing politics with key issues facing our country. As the freshman class, we have the opportunity to wipe the slate clean and fulfill the mandate set by the people to strengthen our country for future generations - not continue the petty politics we have seen in the past, which only creates an environment of stalemate.

Surely, we can all see the urgency in issues as important as care for retirees and the nation's long-term budget. In 2022, the CBO projects the debt will surpass 90 percent as a share of our economy and by 2025, every tax dollar will be spent paying for entitlements and interest on our debt. Mr. President, we do not have the luxury of waiting. History will judge us by whether we worked together to solve our country's problems or played politics to score points in the next election.

The Republicans have put forward what you called a "serious proposal" to deal with Medicare spending, which ensures Americans 55 and older will keep their current plans. Those 54 and younger will receive a list of guaranteed coverage options through Medicare so recipients are able to choose the best plan for their needs, rather than the government choosing for them--reform based on idea discussed by President Clinton's Medicare Commission over a decade ago. A week after its passage, Democrats began launching what the Chicago Tribune referred to as "Mediscare" attacks against Republicans. We ask that you stand above partisanship, condemn the disingenuous attacks and work with this Congress to reform spending on entitlement programs. Together, we can deal with the debt crisis now before it is insurmountable.

Last year, at the Republican retreat in Baltimore, you asked, "At what point can we have a serious conversation about Medicare and its long-term liability...or a serious conversation about budget and debt in which we're not simply trying to position ourselves politically?" You went on to say we cannot start these discussions by framing "who's to blame," who is "trying to hurt our senior citizens" or "how can we make the American people afraid of the other side." During the question and answer portion of the retreat, you honorably noted that these conversations are what you are "committed to doing." Mr. President, these were your words and now is the time to act.

As new members of Congress, we are committed to having a fact-based conversation immediately. Our mission must be about the next generation, not the next election - this is something we cannot lose sight of.

Will you join us to stop the political rhetoric, work to advance America's interests, and end this cycle of debt, deficits and indecision?

Sincerely,


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