We hear it all the time: Social Security and Medicare referred to as "programs" or "entitlements."
Simply put: This is not how I think of Social Security or Medicare. I suspect you don't either.
In Hawaii, respecting our elders and treating them with the dignity they've so richly earned is part of our unique heritage and way of life.
Social Security and Medicare are commitments we must honor and keep.
Keeping these commitments is something I'm reminded of every single day. My own mother is that reminder. At 87 years old, I'm grateful that my mother lives in Hawaii with my husband, Leighton, and me.
My mother is the most courageous, selfless, and spirited person I have ever known. Having her healthy and active is important to me. I'm sure you feel the same way about your own parents and kupuna.
Like nearly 200,000 other senior citizens in Hawaii, Medicare covers my mother's health care needs. Like the more than 150,000 retirees throughout our state, Social Security is at the heart of my mother's retirement security.
For my mother, for your aging parents, for everyone who seeks the American Dream of a healthy and secure retirement after a lifetime of hard work -- we must preserve and protect Social Security and Medicare.
And to do so -- our next United States senator must be one whose commitment to Social Security and Medicare is steadfast and firm.
On Social Security and Medicare, we need a senator who follows in the tradition of Senators Inouye and Akaka.
Multiple times in the year 2011 alone, during debates on the federal budget to the debt limit, Republicans in Congress tried to dismantle Medicare. In the past, they have repeatedly tried to privatize Social Security.
Thankfully, Democrats in the Senate stopped them this year.
Social Security and Medicare are solemn promises we have made to our kupuna.
We will not let you slip into poverty.
We will not let you go without medical care because you can't afford it.
And in the U.S. Senate, that will continue to be my solemn commitment to you.