Budgets reflect our priorities, what we consider most important.
As our nation looks to the future, we all know we must make difficult decisions to bring discipline and balance back to the budgeting process. But these decisions should be guided by our values, not the undue influence of a few special interests.
I believe that my opponent, Rep. Bob Dold, and Congressional Republicans have adopted the wrong priorities. The most telling example: twice in 20 months, my opponent has voted for the Ryan Budget. That means twice he made it clear that an additional $250,000 tax break for the most fortunate Americans, and billions in subsidies for oil companies are more important than protecting the Medicare guarantee we promised to our seniors.
Last week, I hosted a seniors roundtable with Senator Dick Durbin and Max Richtman, President of the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare. We were joined by 10th district residents – current and future Medicare recipients – all with the same concern: “What do we do about Medicare?”
It’s clear that Medicare can’t remain on its current path forever, and we must address the issue to ensure the promise made to our seniors. It’s a promise worth keeping.
That’s why I supported the President’s plan to extend the solvency of Medicare by eight years without sacrificing a single benefit. We need to continue stamping out fraud, waste, and abuse in the system, guaranteeing access to quality care. I also think it’s time to look at allowing Medicare to negotiate the costs of prescription drugs to increase savings. Flexibility and efficiency must be the hallmarks of Medicare moving forward.
But reforming Medicare can’t mean ending its guarantee or shifting the cost burden to seniors.
Unfortunately, that’s exactly what the Ryan plan would do – a plan my opponent voted for twice. Congressman Dold voted twice to hand seniors a fixed check and say, “Deal with the insurance companies; you’re on your own.” Congressman Dold voted twice for a plan the AARP and the Congressional Budget Office agreed would hurt seniors, that it would force seniors to pay thousands more.
The Ryan Budget’s voucher system is bad for seniors – to say nothing of the million students who wouldn’t have Pell Grants or the local governments who would lose $10 billion in federal aid – and Republicans know it.
That’s why 10 Republicans stood up against it. Congressman Dold wasn’t one of them.
And even though Reps. Ryan and Dold try to pretend that their plans would have absolutely no effect on people 55 and older, they would. All people – current and near enrollees – would be subject to as much as $6,400 more in prescription drug costs from the Ryan reopening of the “Donut Hole.”
This approach hasn’t worked in the past, and it won’t work now. But unfortunately, Congressman Dold has shown no indication that he will stand up to Rep. Ryan’s plans. Make no mistake: defeating these irresponsible voucher plans won’t be easy. But nothing could be more important than defeating them.
In order to do it, we need a new direction and a renewed commitment to the promise of Medicare, for this generation of seniors and for generations to come.
Near the end of our roundtable discussion, Max Richtman handed me a pair of boxing gloves. He told me to prepare for a fight. Not just over the next week, but once I get to Congress as well.
I have one message for the people of the 10th district: I’m ready.
Candidate for United States Congress - 10th District