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Pulling back the curtain on the GOP’s tax plan to kill Medicare and Social Security

Congressman Alcee L. Hastings

Pulling back the curtain on the GOP’s tax plan to kill Medicare and Social Security

By Congressman Alcee L. Hastings

On December 22, 2017, President Donald John Trump and Congressional Republicans abandoned Social Security and Medicare and all those who rely on these critically important programs. It was on that day that President Trump signed into law H.R.1, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. This law is a GOP Tax Scam for the rich, plain, and simple.

Democrats knew this scam would give an unprecedented tax break to corporations and the wealthiest people in our country. We knew that it would increase taxes for working poor Americans and the middle class,

while weakening healthcare protections for those with preexisting conditions. We knew it would add more than $2 trillion to the national debt, and that the effects of these changes would reverberate throughout our country for years to come.  That is why I voted against this reckless tax scam orchestrated by the GOP.

What was less clear at the time was how quickly this scam would lead Medicare and Social Security to insolvency. As it stands today, Medicare will run dry in just eight short years. Social Security will wither away shortly after that, in 2034. The trust funds millions of Americans have been paying into their entire working lives will no longer exist, and they will never get their money back – a crisis needlessly made worse by the GOP Tax Scam.

Following in the footsteps of past failed economic policies, the Republican tax cuts are a blatant attempt to obliterate our social safety net. Gutting Medicare and Social Security were President Trump’s and Speaker Ryan’s plan from the very start.

Speaker Ryan has described Social Security and Medicare as “where the problem lies.” Here, we have a fundamental disagreement. For Speaker Ry-an, protections that ensure seniors and disabled Americans get the vital medical care they need without the threat of bankruptcy is “the problem.” For me, these protections, and the many others that make up our social safety net, are significant parts of what make our country great.

Indeed, the Republican approach to Medicare and Social Security has, so far, been two-fold: On the one hand, you have President Trump’s willful neglect in his unwillingness to prioritize these important programs and, on the other hand, you have the Republican Leadership in Congress showing nothing but disdain and active efforts to undermine our country’s safety net. Their recipe for doing so is as transparent as it is heartless: Step one, pass the GOP Tax Scam that rewards major corporations and special interests, while also ballooning our national debt. Step two, use this self-inflicted wound of an exploding debt to call for cuts to essential benefits that hardworking Americans have earned and rely upon.

These earned benefits are vital for Florida and our country. They provide life-saving care for the disabled, the elderly, and one out of every ten veteran. Medicare Part A covers hospital care, skilled nursing facility care, home health care, and hospice care for over 50 million elderly citizens, the disabled, and our veterans. Social Security ensures that over 50 million workers do not need to retire in poverty, and for two-thirds of retirees, it makes up over half their income.  It also boosts the economy by supporting 9 million jobs and $1.4 trillion in economic activity.

Without these programs, the working class will spend retirement in crisis. We must ensure that Medicare and Social Security are not only brought back from the brink, but that they are preserved and strengthened.  I will continue to fight in Congress for tax reform that will create jobs, reduce our nation’s deficit, and put the middle class first.  The American people deserve nothing less.

     Alcee L. Hastings, a Florida Democrat, serves as a senior member of the House Rules Committee, ranking Democratic member of the US Helsinki Commission, and Co-Chairman of the Florida Delegation.

 

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