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Medicare, Social Security in the crosshairs of GOP


Published: Wed, December 6, 2017 @ 12:00 a.m.

We now know why Repub- licans in Congress were so intent on ramming through their tax-cut plans without full-blown hearings. They didn’t want to answer two important questions:

Will Medicare and Social Security be on the chopping block because of the explosion of the budget deficit resulting from the reduction in taxes?

How do you justify the huge increase in red ink when you consistently criticized Democratic President Barack Obama and Democrats in Congress for doing the very same thing?

Indeed, it’s fair to point out the hypocrisy of the GOP majority in Congress in the way it successfully orchestrated the tax- cut plan and its failed attempt to repeal and replace “Obamacare.”

In both instances, the standard procedures for dealing with such significant policy matters were skirted. Instead, just a handful of Republican lawmakers were involved in writing the tax-cut bills that were voted on without the benefit of public hearings and open-ended debate.

And yet today, Republicans from President Donald J. Trump on down continue to criticize former President Obama and the Democratic-controlled Congress for pushing through the Affordable Care Act without any GOP support.

However, there were public hearings around the country hosted by lawmakers and extensive debate in Congress before a vote was taken.

By contrast, the push to repeal and replace “Obamacare” was done with such secrecy and haste that Americans around the country let their displeasure be known.

As a result, “Trumpcare” failed to garner the necessary support in the Senate after making it through the House.

With the president demanding a legislative victory in his first year in office, the Republican leadership in Congress joined forces with the White House to develop a major tax-cut plan.

The House passed its version in early November, while the Senate rammed through its plan early Saturday morning.

Democrats were unified in their opposition, arguing there had not been enough time to read and study the legislation, conduct hearings, invite comments from all the special interests, including senior citizens, and discuss the projected $1 trillion increase in the deficit over 10 years.

NEXT TARGET: WELFARE, MEDICARE?

When President Trump told a rally in Missouri “We’re going to go into welfare reform,” he might have been referring to the commonly understood welfare program. But Republican leaders in Congress have other ideas.

House Speaker Paul D. Ryan, R-Wis., and other Republicans are vowing to move on changes in Medicare and Social Security next year, the New York Times reports.

The Times referred to comments Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., a failed candidate for the GOP nomination for president, made to business leaders. Rubio said tax cuts were just the first step; the next is to reshape Social Security and Medicare for future retirees.

Speaker Ryan, on the other hand, told a town hall-style meeting last month that Congress had to spur growth and cut entitlements to reduce the national debt, the newspaper reported.

By any measure, Medicare and Social Security are programs that have saved millions of Americans from spending their retirement years in poverty.

As it is, many retirees still have problems making ends meet despite being covered by Medicare and getting a monthly Social Security check.

Republicans in Congress continue to argue that such programs are meant to supplement traditional retirement benefits, but that’s easier said than done.

The Great Recession of 2008 has played havoc with the retirement plans of many Americans, who, unlike members of Congress, are no longer guaranteed pensions at retirement.

Perhaps lawmakers in Washington would have a different view of the world if they, too, had to depend on Medicare and Social Security, rather than enjoying lucrative benefits paid for by the taxpayers.

As a candidate for president, Trump made it clear that Medicare and Social Security were off limits. But now, with his massive tax-cut initiative on the verge of landing on his desk, it remains to be seen how he deals with the $1 trillion additional budget deficit.

It is noteworthy that candidate Trump also promised to force prescription drug manufacturers to reduce their costs, but President Trump has let that issue die on the vine.

Any cuts in Medicare benefits and Social Security would affect Republicans and Democrats alike.

The GOP in Congress would be playing with political fire if it pushes through changes without first listening to the American people.


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