Social Security has been a remarkable success since its establishment more than 70 years ago. Nearly 50 percent of today's seniors would be living in poverty were it not for our Social Security system. We have an obligation to ensure that retirees continue to receive the benefits that they were promised, while also guaranteeing that the program will be there for future generations. That is why I strongly oppose risky proposals to privatize Social Security or gamble with the very funds that are supposed to guarantee that every senior can live in dignity.
It will be several decades before Social Security experiences a shortfall. However, we should plan accordingly and act to preserve the soundness of Social Security for future generations.
Congress also must work to protect the integrity of Medicare for both today's and tomorrow's seniors. With the Medicare Trust Fund forecast to become insolvent by 2017, Congress must make important decisions to protect Medicare's fiscal health. While some tough decisions will need to be made, any changes must first and foremost ensure that seniors are able to get top quality healthcare.
I also believe that Medicare should be allowed to harness the bargaining power of its 37 million beneficiaries to negotiate lower prices on prescription drugs. One of my first acts as your representative in Washington was to vote for passage of legislation that would have given the Secretary of Health and Human Services the authority to negotiate with drug companies for lower prices for seniors participating in the Medicare prescription drug program.
Working together, Democrats and Republicans can strengthen Social Security and Medicare for future generations.