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Public Statements

Social Security and Medicare

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

SOCIAL SECURITY AND MEDICARE -- (Senate - March 31, 2008)

Mr. ISAKSON. Mr. President, today, I will pay tribute and make some celebratory remarks about two exciting lives in my community. First is the upcoming celebration of the 80th birthday of Mack Henderson, a man in my community who, besides being a leader, has been a warm and trusted friend. He and his wife Jean have been pillars of our community. The women's health care facility in Kennesaw was named after them as a tribute. Mack's daughter lives in this area, in Alexandria, VA. She has been a great friend to me. The entire Henderson family is going to gather to celebrate the 80th birthday of Mack Henderson, a great American and a great citizen of Cobb County. I wish him a most happy birthday.

On March 10, another birthday occurred--the very first of my grandson, William Edwin Isakson, born to my son Kevin and his wife Katherine Isakson. William is our eighth grandchild. He weighed 7 pound 9 ounces. He has a great future ahead, and I wish him the very best.

It occurred to me, when I was coming to the floor to pay tribute to Mack Henderson on his 80th birthday and to recognize the birth of my eighth grandchild, that as I look into the future, I wonder about what has been said in recent months about Social Security and Medicare and about what Mack Henderson has enjoyed in his life and what I hope we can save and procure for the life of young William Edwin Isakson.

In Mack's early years, Social Security was created. It was a promise to Mack and to every citizen in America that when you reach the age of 65, and when you sign up and are declared eligible, you will receive a supplement to help you in your retirement years. Mack has been retired for 15 years and is enjoying the benefit of that.

Last week, the Social Security Administration sent out a mailer notifying us that the time the Social Security goes bust is now moved forward to 2041. So in Mack's lifetime, Social Security was created, and by the 33rd birthday of my new grandson, Social Security will be gone. Even worse, Medicare, created after Social Security, has benefitted Mack. He has had a heart transplant and other medical problems, and he came through them with the help and assistance of Medicare. As for my grandson William, before he is a teenager, Medicare will be broke, inverted, and gone. As a Member of the Senate who takes a privilege to come to this floor and celebrate the birthday of a great friend and the birth of a new grandson, I know I have some work to do. So do the other 99 Senators and the 435 Representatives on the other side of this building.

The President who serves now, and who will go out of office in January, has made an effort on Social Security, and it was rejected by organizations and others. It was an effort of privatization.

The next President will not be so lucky to be able to neglect this. Time is running out. The next President will probably serve for 8 years. When they are out, it will be 2018, 1 year before Medicare goes broke. I don't think we can afford to allow that to happen.

As I come to the floor and pay tribute to these great lives which are so meaningful and significant to me, it is also an early warning for all of us to get to work on Medicare and Social Security. I commend Judd Gregg, the Senator from New Hampshire, for his efforts time and again to get us to deal forthrightly with these issues. They are not going to be easy.

I don't want to ever face seeing Medicare go out of business and Social Security go broke. I am willing to stand up and take the heat and make the recommendations and work hand in glove with my fellow Republicans and with Democrats to see to it that the events on those two dates--the date of the death of Medicare in 2019 and end of Social Security in 2041--never take place. Between the two sides of the political spectrum, we can find common ground if we have a willingness to establish a goal and achieve it. I will never forget when President John F. Kennedy came forth to the people in America and declared that one day--8 years later--the United States would launch a man to the Moon, land him on the Moon, and bring him home safely. We didn't know how to do that; we didn't have the foggiest idea. We were getting beaten badly by the Soviet Union in mathematics, science, exploration and technology, and he was daring us to do something nobody knew how to do. We did it by July of 1969.

I don't think saving Medicare and Social Security is as difficult or as technical as getting a man to the Moon and bringing him home. But it is equally as important--maybe more so--for the health, welfare, and livelihoods of our oldest friends who are in the twilight of their years and our children born to us this year; and it is very important to the United States.

So this Senator pledges to his newest grandson that I will stand up anytime, anyplace, or anywhere and work with my colleagues in the Senate to begin the job of seeing that we fix Medicare and Social Security and that we preserve the promise for our grandchildren that our grandfathers have enjoyed and prospered with.

I yield the floor.

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