— Sharon Bender
The deficit commission failed to get the necessary votes to report recommendations to Congress for a plan which if passed, would have included deep cuts to Medicare and Social Security according to a Chairman’s report introduced in November and finalized this week. The plan would have left American seniors at a great disadvantage in the wake of a slow economic recovery and continued high health care costs. Especially troubling aspects were suggested caps on Medicare spending and increased premiums, combined with Social Security cuts that placed vital care and services for older adults out of their reach.
More after the jump.
The Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform had delayed voting until Dec. 3 in hopes of securing the 14 votes needed to send the recommendations to Congress for a vote. B’nai B’rith is encouraged that the proposal lacked widespread endorsement, as these draconian cuts imperil the health and welfare of millions of Americans who rely on Social Security and Medicare benefits for the income support and fundamental health services they need. However, it is likely that many severe cuts to health and senior services will emerge in future plans to reduce the deficit.
B’nai B’rith International has long been invested in the welfare and concerns of aging adults, and is concerned about continuing efforts to place the burden of repairing America’s growing deficit on those who can least afford to pay by targeting Social Security and Medicare benefits for unrealistic cuts.
“We are encouraged that they couldn’t get the votes for these harmful proposals,” B’nai B’rith International President Dennis W. Glick said. “Seniors depend on Medicare and Social Security; we should be protecting these programs, not gutting them.”
B’nai B’rith shares President Obama’s concern about the deficit, but firmly believes the approach of the Commission was inequitable, and its focus on Social Security and Medicare was inappropriate. On the surface, some of the proposals look plausible. But digging deeper, it’s apparent the plan would drastically reduce benefits over time.
“I have no illusions that the failure to get the votes means that these attacks on Medicare and Social Security will go away,” B’nai B’rith Director of Aging Policy Rachel Goldberg, Ph.D., said. “We will remain vigilant and prepared to protect these programs during the next Congress.”
We support the effort to achieve fiscal responsibility and we recognize that it will be difficult, if not impossible, to achieve that goal without shared sacrifice. However, we do not believe it can or should come at the expense of the most vulnerable Americans.