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Ms. SCHWARTZ. I thank you, Mr. Minority Whip.
You have spoken out every week both on the floor of Congress and around this country. You've spoken out on the actions we ought to be taking in order to strengthen our Nation, protect our seniors, grow our economy, and make sure our children have a great future. You speak eloquently about that every week, so I really am pleased to be able to just join you in calling attention to the fact that we do have serious economic and fiscal challenges in this Nation.
Instead of coming together and trying to find common ground--trying to find that agreement so we can solve these problems that the American people are asking us to do, which is to solve these problems--the Republicans have been doing nothing. They're trying to roll us back, move us backward. In fact, the Republicans, as we know, just decided to recess and head home. We know the Republicans, yet again, have made their choices, their priorities, their values very clear not only to us and to our constituents but, really, to all Americans, who are seeing more clearly what the Republicans' choices have been. They are determined to dismantle the progress we have made. They continuously try and roll back our accomplishments that we have made so as to take our country back to a failed economic agenda that has hurt so many Americans.
The Republicans' goals are stunning, and we have seen them every week on the floor of Congress for the last year and a half, almost 2 years: repealing health care reform and eliminating the benefits for seniors and access to affordable coverage for millions of Americans; repealing the financial regulatory system; eliminating those consumer protections with regard to environmental regulations, thus threatening clean water and clean air; ending Medicare as we know it. Reducing the Federal Government at any cost, that has been their goal.
I want to mention just quickly two things that you're going to talk some more about and some of my colleagues. I fought so hard on Medicare. We all have. The Republicans have been absolutely clear on this, their willingness to undue Medicare for all seniors. I've said this before that whether you're 65 and expecting Medicare and living under Medicare right now, you'll see a reduction in your benefits. Whether you're 55 or 45 or 35 and you're paying into Medicare and want Medicare to be there in the future, they are threatening that promise of Medicare. They are deliberately working and have voted to end Medicare as we know it. We've seen that time and again. It's not just the Republican leadership, not just Mr. Ryan. There are many. Most of the Republicans, not all of them have voted for this. Rather than guarantee benefits under Medicare, the Republicans will leave seniors on their own to buy benefits that they can afford or not. The voucher will be inadequate to buy Medicare benefits that exist now, costing our seniors about $6,400 more per year.
They threaten our fellow seniors as well in nursing homes by voting for a third of a cut in Medicaid that affects, really, the costs of our seniors in nursing homes. Any of us who have loved ones or visit nursing homes know that these are people who require a great deal of care. This is the agenda of the Republicans.
Instead of tackling what we're willing to do together such as middle class tax cuts, they're holding it hostage to tax breaks for the wealthiest 1 percent or 2 percent. They won't move forward on that sort of certainty or on many of the issues facing us at the end of the year as we're on a fiscal cliff that many of us talk about and are really not doing the kind of work that needs to get done to create that certainty, to be able to protect Medicare, to be able to make the strategic investments, to make sure the tax policy is fair, and we do fiscal policy for our Nation in the right way, in a fair way, in a responsible way, and an achievable way.
I thank you for this Special Order, and I'm calling on the Republicans to meet these challenges for our Nation, and to do that together.
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