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Concurrent Resolution on the Budget for Fiscal Year 2013

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Ms. WASSERMAN SCHULTZ. Mr. Chairman, over the past several months, in hearing after hearing in the Budget Committee, we have heard one recurring theme from our expert witnesses. Chairman Bernanke said it, Director Elmendorf said it, Acting Director Zients said it, and Secretary Geithner reaffirmed that the draconian, reckless cuts proposed by the Republican majority, and made evident in their budget proposal that we are considering on the House floor today, will create an enormous headwind for our economy. Yet, here we are again.

Yes, here we are considering the same Republican budget plan as last year, hearing the same arguments from Chairman Ryan and the Republican leadership.

As I said last week in committee, I feel like it's ``Groundhog Day'' all over again, but Bill Murray is nowhere in sight, and this is no comedy.

In all seriousness, the harmful spending cuts incorporated into this budget proposal go further than simply damaging a fragile recovery. These cuts pull the rug out from under our most vulnerable: our seniors, our children, and those with serious illness.

Democrats reject the idea that the way to deal with rising health care costs is to give seniors a voucher to purchase private insurance and then tell them to figure out how to keep their own costs down.

Democrats believe that we cannot solve our budget challenges simply by shifting health costs and risks onto people who are least able to bear them: seniors, disabled individuals, and poor families.

Last week I offered an amendment in the Budget Committee that no one in this body should ever have to offer. My amendment would have prevented reckless and shameful Medicaid cuts to seniors in nursing homes. Like all of the other amendments offered by my Democratic colleagues, this amendment was rejected on a party-line vote. This is simply unconscionable.

As a Member of Congress representing a large number of seniors in south Florida, I can tell you that the House Republican budget would be devastating for seniors and older Americans. This Republican ``path to poverty'' would pass like a tornado through America's nursing homes, where millions of America's seniors receive long-term and end-of-life care.

Sixty percent of Americans in nursing homes are on Medicaid, so cuts to Medicaid would have a dramatically negative impact on our seniors. The Federal Government made a commitment to each and every one of us that when we got older we wouldn't need to live in poverty or force our children into poverty in order to care for us.

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Ms. WASSERMAN SCHULTZ. For decades we have looked to Medicare and Medicaid with the expectation that the Federal Government would honor its commitment. Now, under this budget plan, Republicans are trying to back out of our commitment to seniors. We cannot go back on our promise to the Greatest Generation. There is a better way forward.

I ask my colleagues to think about our seniors and our most vulnerable and reject the Republican budget plan.

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