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Public Statements

This Week in Washington


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Growing up in North Carolina, I learned very early in life the power of honor and of keeping a promise. In my work in Congress, I've remained committed to following the very example my parents, coaches and teachers instilled in me--that you always do as you say and you keep your word. Unfortunately and all too often, when government is concerned, oaths are like eggs--easily broken.

The Promise

This week marks the 45th anniversary of the implementation of Medicare, a promise made to our senior citizens that I firmly believe we must keep, forever. We agreed to take care of those who may not otherwise be able to take care of themselves, whether they're aged or disabled. We did this because we are a nation founded on the faith and values that our parents and grandparents passed down to us--values we still hold onto today. We can't allow our government to make a decades-long commitment, and then break it when times get tough, or when political winds shift. It will not help our economy to have our seniors going without.

As we all know, Washington must work to rein in out of control spending and help get our growing debt crisis under control. In doing so, we must use precision to address the obviously costly and wasteful instances that put a financial drain on our system. Sadly, many in Washington would rather embrace an "axe" approach, chopping at the very core of programs designed to help those who need the most--Medicare and Social Security. The solvency and preservation of these programs is one of the most important issues facing us today. As we work to preserve and protect Medicare, we must do so wisely and never forget the very core of this promise. Here in North Carolina, I've heard from many folks who agree that the current proposals to end Medicare as we know it are not only dangerous and wrong, but directly threaten the livelihood and wellbeing of so many seniors in our area.

Cost of Living

Costs are rising for our seniors, both in healthcare and in daily day-to-day purchases of goods and food. I've fought to ensure a Cost-Of-Living-Adjustment for our seniors, and we were able to pass a one-time payment last year in lieu of the adjustment I feel is owed to them. This Congress, I'm a proud cosponsor of legislation to reevaluate the Consumer Price Index that determines such adjustments, creating a Consumer Price Index for the Elderly, solely to ensure that we're basing these decisions on the real and realistic costs that they face day in and day out. Under this new CPI-E system, unrelated factors would not hold any weight when it came to caring for our seniors. This is a fair way to address this very unfair situation.

As we work to preserve Medicare and Social Security in the face of rising costs, one thing remains certain to me--we absolutely cannot shift any added burdens onto the backs of our seniors. From our parents to our grandparents, many have served our nation through its toughest times, from wars to economic hard times. I will oppose any and all plans that privatize these important programs, whether directly or through a "voucher" system designed to mask the sad truth that many in Washington are giving up on our seniors.


One area where we're starting to see some evidence of success lately for seniors has been in Medicare Part D prescription drug coverage. Efforts to help control rising prescription drug costs have proven effective, helping to keep our seniors healthy with little impact on their pockets. As we see these costs decline, the Congressional Budget Office is reporting that Medicare Part D is now beginning to help bring down the previous total cost estimates for Medicare. Keeping seniors healthy not only keeps our promise, it also makes good economic sense.

As we see some progress in addressing the rising costs in caring for our seniors, there is much work to be done. We must remain steadfast in our fight against dangerous proposals of cuts for these important programs. I will not allow our seniors to be used as the political pawn of people who are clearly out of touch and unaware of their needs. Anyone advocating for less care or benefits for our seniors shows no interest in keeping the promise we've held for so long. I'll continue to keep your views in mind, and continue my work to best represent your interests.

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