By Hank Beckman
U.S. Rep. Judy Biggert (R-Hinsdale) wanted to assure the seniors living at Spring Meadows in Naperville Tuesday that rumors about cuts to their Medicare benefits were just that -- rumors.
"I can't stress that enough," Biggert told the seniors at the meeting. "We're not going to throw Granny over the cliff it's shameful that they (Democrats) are spreading lies."
Biggert, with much of her 13th District redrawn into the newly created 11th Congressional District, is running against former Democratic Congressman Bill Foster in the November election.
Biggert noted that the House of Representatives recently passed both a budget and HR-5, a bill that would reform the process of medical lawsuits and repeal the Independent Payment Advisory Board.
Both have yet to be taken up by the Democrat-led U.S. Senate, she said.
The board is part of the Obama administration's Affordable Care Act.
"This board will have no accountability to Congress," Biggert said.
But while Biggert sought to ease the fears of seniors, she didn't sugar-coat the condition of the U.S. economy. She pointed out that for the first time since World War II, the nation's debt was approximately equal to the economic output of the entire economy.
Biggert noted that there was a vast difference in the debt to fund the war efforts of the "Greatest Generation" and those that Washington was currently running up.
During the war years, Americans financed the military through savings bonds. Today, almost half of the outstanding public debt is held by foreign sources.
"It's a threat to our national security and sovereignty," Biggert said.
When she asked those in the room whether they thought their children and grandchildren would be better off than they were, the clear majority thought things would get worse.
Biggert noted the economic difficulties of our allies and trading partners in Europe, with Greece's debt at 152 percent of its economic output.
She said that if entitlement spending was not reformed, there could be big problems down the road.
"Our country is at a tipping point," Biggert said.
Biggert told the seniors that the very name "entitlements" was misleading, bringing to mind a benefit that some might think was undeserved.
"It sounds like a handout, but it's not," she said, while stressing that the House budget didn't eliminate the safety net, but preserved it.
In a clear reference to Republican spending, one woman asked how much of the debt was a result of wars that were unpaid for, the prescription drug plan and tax cuts that were not paid for.
Biggert said she didn't have the exact figure available, but did know that 41 percent of every tax dollar went to service the national debt.
She also admitted that when Republicans ran the entire Congress, they were not exactly frugal.
"We spent too much," she said, "and we made a mistake."
Biggert stressed the need for a bipartisanship approach to the nation's problems.
"We have to work together," she said.