By Saul Anuzis
Originally published in the Washington Times – https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2023/mar/1/sen-rick-scotts-protect-our-seniors-act-will-keep-/
There has been a lot of talk in Washington recently about Social Security and Medicare. We think that’s great and certainly better than the status quo of pretending nothing is wrong while these essential programs go bankrupt.
It’s time for Congress to do something positive and protect Social Security and Medicare, rather than gut them. It can start by looking in the mirror and putting some accountability measures on itself, stop spending like drunken sailors and end its terrible habit of ignoring insolvency and stealing from Medicare every chance it gets.
Thankfully, Sen. Rick Scott of Florida just introduced a bill that will impose accountability on Congress, and we think it should pass right away.
This is how Congress works when it comes to critical programs such as Social Security and Medicare right now. Whenever politicians in Washington need money, they raid entitlements.
It happened with the Affordable Care Act. It happened again late last year in the Democrats’ so-called Inflation Reduction Act when they took $280 billion out of Medicare to pay for their woke pet projects. In both cases, politicians created alleged “savings” and used it as an excuse to steal money from Medicare.
Why isn’t anyone talking about this? We don’t know. It is a massive problem, a prime example of the total lack of accountability in Congress that makes hypocrites of every politician who claims to fight for Social Security and Medicare, but then takes part in this sick practice thinking you won’t notice.
The reality is that Social Security is projected to run out of funds in just 10 years. Medicare is right behind it on the road to insolvency. What most Americans are paying into right now won’t be there for them later, and most of the time, politicians in Washington don’t care.
We agree with Mr. Scott that it’s time for Congress to stop working for itself and start working for the people they say they represent, especially older Americans who have paid into these programs their whole lives. That’s why we fully endorse his new bill, the Protect Our Seniors Act.
This legislation would do three important things. First, it would put a hurdle in front of politicians trying to steal from Medicare by ensuring that any “savings” generated by new legislation would stay in the program and could not be used to pay for politicians’ pet projects.
Had Mr. Scott’s bill been law, this provision would have helped stop congressional Democrats from stealing $280 billion from Medicare last year. Second, the Protect Our Seniors Act would make it much more difficult for Congress to cut Medicare or Social Security by requiring that any reductions in funding or benefits be approved by a two-thirds vote in both the House and Senate.
Finally, Mr. Scott’s bill would revoke $70 billion in funding from the Inflation Reduction Act for 87,000 new IRS agents, putting that money where it is actually needed to shore up the trust funds that feed these critical programs.
Taken together, these three provisions would address the immediate need for more cash in the Social Security and Medicare trust funds, and make it much harder for Congress to attack these programs in the future. It’s a commonsense and necessary approach to the insolvency issue before us.
Congress needs to know that the American people, especially older people, are watching closely and won’t be fooled by budget gimmicks or accept attempts to steal from our government’s most critical programs. Medicare and Social Security are a promise that Americans pay into their entire lives, and it’s up to Congress to be responsible managers if we want to keep that promise alive.
We urge immediate consideration of Mr. Scott’s Protect Our Seniors Act. These essential programs are in trouble. We must act now.
• Saul Anuzis is president of the 60 Plus Association, the American Association of Senior Citizens, a nonprofit advocacy group based in the Washington area.