Since 1935, Social Security has helped millions of Americans during their golden years. However, without reform, the program is unsustainable.
Social Security has been paying out more in benefits than it collects in taxes the past two years. With the large number of baby boomers retiring, that trend will only get worse. The program's trustees say that the surpluses will disappear in the next twenty years. Unless Washington acts, Social Security would only collect enough tax revenue each year to pay about 75 percent of benefits. Inaction ultimately will trigger an automatic reduction. That is unacceptable.
Our number one priority must be to ensure no benefits are cut to current and future enrollees. However, we must also acknowledge that the current system is unsustainable and in dire need of reform to ensure that future generations also receive benefits.
While I believe it is extremely important that we evaluate the system to ensure its viability for the next generation, I am committed to maintaining a system that will continue to provide benefits to those who are currently receiving them and will also provide benefits to our children and grandchildren. I will not support any change in Social Security for current recipients and near-retirees. We can all agree that it is unfair to change this system that our aging Americans have come to depend upon.
In addition, Congress has taken steps that will eventually lead to a stronger, more reliable Medicare program. These modernizations include a prescription drug benefit, increased reimbursement for doctors who treat our seniors and financial support to programs currently providing health care benefits to retirees. Though this is just a first step, Congress has more work to do to ensure that Medicare is around for generations to come.
Unfortunately, we have also seen new laws, like the President's health care law, that make drastic cuts to Medicare. According to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), the President cut $716 billion from Medicare to pay for new government programs in the health care law. You can't cut over $700 billion from Medicare, add millions of beneficiaries to the rolls and expect it to remain solvent. I opposed those laws when they came before me in the U.S. House of Representatives and I remain opposed to any legislation that cuts funding for such an important program.
Both the House of Representatives and the Senate continue to work together to address the coming insolvency of the Social Security and Medicare programs, as well as the need to expand the two systems to encompass the growing number of seniors who will be collecting benefits in the next several years. I understand the urgency of this situation and remain committed to working with my colleagues to find a solution. Nothing will be done, however, unless there is an agreement between the President, Congress and, most importantly, the people of Arkansas.