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Budget Battles in D.C.; Seems Like They Never End!

by Barbara J. Easterling

  These past few years, it seems like every time you turn on the news there is another budget battle, another budget crisis in Washington. There is one thing that all these budget fights have in common: politicians and TV commentators telling us we have no choice but to cut Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. I don’t think this is true, and to me, it would make much more sense to get rid of sweetheart tax deals for big business and for millionaires.

  So brace yourself for yet another year of hearing about how we need to lower Social Security COLAs, or raise the Social Security and Medicare eligibility ages, or how there just is not enough money for Medicaid to help seniors with the cost of long-term or nursing home care.

  Instead of cutting these programs, there are ways to actually make them stronger. We could strengthen the Social Security Trust Fund by having the highest income earners pay their fair share in taxes. Right now a millionaire pays almost the same amount of Social Security payroll taxes as a middle class worker. We can save Medicare millions by ending a Bush-era loophole that prohibits Medicare from negotiating volume discounts from the big drug companies. Savvy seniors know you can save money when you buy in bulk.  

  While it gets tempting to just tune these seemingly never-ending budget battles out, please don’t. The stakes are too high for both today’s seniors and our children and grandchildren. Instead, become a politician’s worst nightmare: a politically savvy senior who knows the truth about these issues, who educates their friends and neighbors, and who makes their voice heard; not just on Election Day, but every day!
 
Barbara J. Easterling is president of the Alliance for Retired Americans.  She was previously the secretary-treasurer of the Communications Workers of America.  For more information, visit www.retiredamericans.org or call 1-800-333-7212.

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