Protect Seniors, Veterans And Close Corporate Tax Loopholes

By U.S. Representative Silvestre Reyes, El Paso – D

A couple of months ago, the Budget Control Act of 2011 created a select committee of 12 Members of Congress charged with cutting $1.5 trillion from the federal budget. I voted against the act and strongly expressed my opposition to reductions to Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid benefits for seniors, veterans, working families, children, the disabled, and other under-served populations. It is clear to me that during these tough economic times, we cannot jeopardize the safety net of our seniors who worked so hard over their lifetimes to retire with dignity.

While the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, known as the “Super Committee”, worked to identify cuts, I co-sponsored legislation instructing the committee to protect Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. I even co-sponsored legislation that would amend the Budget Control Act of 2011 to eliminate the Super Committee altogether because of my concerns that the committee was usurping powers expressly delegated to all the Members of the House of Representatives. I personally discussed my concerns with Members of Congress on the Super Committee, and continuously expressed the importance of protecting these programs for current seniors and future generations. Cuts to these programs would have a detrimental impact, especially for many in our community. For many low-income seniors, veterans and others in El Paso, these programs are their only safety net. I believe firmly, that as your federal elected representative, it is my responsibility to uphold the decades-old promise to the American worker to ensure dignity in retirement, assistance if disabled, and support for their surviving children.

Unfortunately, many critics, including one of my opponents and former El Paso City Councilman, is intent on undermining the importance of these programs by seeking ways to cut or end them. In fact, during a recent deficit reduction discussion this opponent admitted that he was, in essence, willing to balance the budget on the backs of seniors by raising the retirement age and by implementing “means testing” on Social Security in an effort to do anything to pursue an extreme ideological agenda for short-term political purposes. In addition, this same opponent says he would have opposed the Affordable Care Act which is already helping seniors by covering more of their prescription drug costs and providing free preventative services.

These positions are misinformed, out-of-touch with our community, and demonstrate a clear lack of understanding about what it takes to truly advocate on behalf of seniors, veterans, and everyday El Pasoans. As a matter of fact, an analysis of my opponent’s record while on the City Council indicates no activity or effort to do anything to benefit veterans or seniors. On the contrary, their agenda has focused on pushing extreme controversial policies and votes like legalizing narcotics.

Undoubtedly, these critics are misinformed and unprepared to defend what is important for our community in Congress. Social Security, for example, does not add a dime to our national debt. In fact, Social Security had a $2.7 trillion surplus in 2010 and is projected to grow to $3.7 trillion by 2022. Throughout their working years, Americans have responsibly contributed into Social Security from their salaries. Many seniors rely on Social Security as their only source of income and Medicare as their only form of health insurance. In addition, many low-income Americans, working families, and under-served children, rely on Medicaid to help provide them with critical care in times of illness.

Yes, it is true that these are tough economic times that require difficult decisions to restore the fiscal health of our economy, but let me be clear: these are not times to become morally bankrupt by leaving our seniors, veterans, and under-served children behind. Every senior deserves dignity in their retirement – every senior, no exceptions. That is my position, and you can be sure that I will vote against any irresponsible, misinformed, and short-sighted proposal that seeks to balance the budget on the backs of our seniors, working families, veterans, children, the disabled, and other under-served populations.

Instead, we should repeal tax breaks for the super rich and close tax loops holes that allow corporations to escape paying taxes. I have heard your voices loud and clear, and just as I did with the Super Committee members, I will be making sure that House and Senate leadership know how critical it is to protect these programs. If you would also like to reach them directly to let them know how you feel about protecting Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security, you can contact them at their offices below.

Families are the center of every society, and our seniors and elders are the pillars of our familias. Seniors are not numbers on a spreadsheet; they are our parents, our abuelos and our abuelas, and in El Paso, families come first.

[Photo By U.S. Congress]

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