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Letter to the Editor: The future of Medicare and Social Security

When President Trump was on the campaign trail, he promised he would never touch Medicare or Social Security.  I talked to several Dawson County residents during that campaign who said as long as he didn’t touch their Medicare or Social Security, they were okay with him.  Well, time to take a look at what may actually happen in the next few months to these two essential programs.

The infamous tax cut that was supposed to be for the lower and middle class did give us all a small monthly tax cut: $15 to $40 a month depending on your income.  But the people who really got the big breaks were the corporations, CEO’s and Wall Street gang.  Many of them will see hundreds of thousands a year in tax cuts.  Some will enjoy cuts even into the millions. What that has done is create the likelihood of $1.8 trillion being added to the deficit. 

The current Republican-led Congress thinks the best way to take care of this increasing deficit is to decrease benefits for Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security.  The Republican aim is to totally do away with all of these programs, but they can do it slowly just by defunding it.

Two weeks ago the House Republicans proposed a budget that would balance the budget in nine years.  Remember, they just passed the tax cuts that would increase the deficit by $1.8 trillion.  Now they feel the need to balance the budget, and have proposed cutting Social Security by $4 billion, Medicaid and other healthcare programs by $1.5 trillion and Medicare by $500 billion. There are several other changes in the budget which affect low income families which would also take place.  Let’s not forget the $230 billion in cuts to public education.

Now I am sure that many reading this will say “good riddance” to all these programs and claim they are going broke anyway.  But Social Security is solvent until 2034.  By then the trust fund will be depleted and benefits will have to be cut.  But there are things we could do now to keep this from happening. The simplest solution would be to raise the cap on how much income is taxed (currently $128,400 which hasn’t been raised in 25 years).  Right now persons making $25,000 a year or $125,000 a year pays six percent Social Security Tax.  A person making $125 million only pays this tax on the first $128,400 of that income, amounting to less than .001 percent, making it an extremely regressive tax.  The same is true for Medicare, and a slight increase in the payroll tax would allow Medicare to remain solvent for years to come. (It would also help to get medical costs under control.)

If we cut benefits, we are hurting those that need the help the most.  One Dawson County resident on a Facebook post called Social Security a “Ponzi scheme.”  He probably thinks Medicare is a handout for lazy people.  But the reality of both these programs is that when Social Security was strengthened and Medicare first began in 1965, it brought millions of Americans over age 65 out of poverty and it has worked to do that continually for the last 53 years.  With a few tweaks to both programs they can be continued for another 50 years, thereby honoring and caring for our American senior citizens.  So to all of you who are “okay with Trump”—good luck!  But if you want to save Social Security and Medicare, vote for Democrats.


Bette Holland