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Mr. HUFFMAN. I rise to oppose the Republican budget for a very fundamental reason: it would be devastating to the health and well-being of America's seniors.
This budget raises seniors' costs for preventive services; it reduces access to nursing home care; and it reopens the Medicare prescription drug doughnut hole, which means that, for seniors with high prescription drug costs, they could end up paying on average $13,000 more over the next 10 years. The Republican budget also tries, once again, to end the guarantee of affordable coverage under Medicare by converting that program into a private sector voucher that will not keep up with costs; and that's going to leave seniors, who are on fixed incomes, holding the bag.
The Republican study group budget is even worse. It forces chained CPI on Social Security. What ``chained CPI'' means is, quite simply, reduced benefits for seniors who've paid into the system, earned those benefits, need them, and are counting on them.
Mr. Chairman, I cannot vote for a budget that protects billions of dollars in special interest tax breaks for the wealthy and for the most powerful corporate interests while reducing benefits for seniors and shredding the social safety net.
My 83-year-old mom is like millions of seniors around this country. She did her part by working hard all her life, paying into the system, paying her taxes; and when she retired, she counted on a guarantee that her government would honor its end of the bargain. I intend to make sure that it does. We can reduce the deficit without forcing extra costs on the middle class, seniors and the most vulnerable in our society, and that's why I'm supporting the Democratic budget alternatives, which do four essential things:
One, they honor our commitment to seniors; two, they focus on jobs and economic growth, which is a far better way to balance our budget; three, they maintain our safety net; finally, fourth, they keep us on the path of health care reform, which is going to bend the costs that are creating these problems.
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