Craig Huey, the tea-party millionaire I'm running against in the special Congressional election, has called Paul Ryan's reckless budget proposal a "real blueprint moving forward" for our country. Huey wants to privatize Social Security, turn Medicare into a voucher program, and effectively leave America's seniors to fend for themselves.
While my opponent and I are in agreement about the need to reduce government waste and spending, we categorically disagree on his extreme solutions. I believe we need to rein in Washington spending -- not shred the social safety net.
Privatizing Social Security, as Mr. Huey advocates, would effectively end its critical protections for America's seniors. Social Security is not some retirement plan, or a government administered investment account -- it is a promise our nation makes to our seniors, present and future. It is meant to be there for us in case the market wipes away all of our hard-earned savings; or during tough economic times.
Social Security is a lot like a seatbelt; you want it well-fastened and secured if things go wrong. The shameful specter of destitute seniors is something we need to keep in the distant past. In Congress, I will fight tooth and nail so that our seniors can rely on Social Security.
This isn't a partisan issue. This is an issue about people. Real people -- widows, widowers, surviving dependents, and people with disabilities, depend on Social Security.
And millions of Americans depend on Medicare and Medicaid.
According to a Congressional Committee on Energy and Commerce report, the changes to Medicaid that Mr. Huey supports would slash coverage for 15,000 seniors and disabled people in the 36th District alone. It would jeopardize nursing home care for 1,200 people and impair the health care of 59,000 children, including 4,300 newborns each year, in this district alone. And those estimates don't include Huey's proposed cuts to Medicare.
Craig Huey is wrong on Medicare. Turning Medicare into a voucher program is a terrible idea. It will only put a greater burden on the backs of America's seniors, and take more money out of their pockets for their health care. Just ask Sarah Flores, an 88-year old grandmother I recently met in Wilmington, who relies on her Medicare benefits so that she can see her doctor. I promised Sarah that I would strongly oppose attempts by extremists in Congress to dismantle Medicare.
Our government needs to be sleeker, not meaner. Yes, we should bring government spending under control. We need to make government leaner and nimbler, to harness technology to reduce waste and inefficiency in our bloated and redundant bureaucracies. I want to encourage adoption of electronic medical records, include incentives in Medicare's fee-for-service system to encourage better coordination of health care services, especially for those suffering from multiple chronic illnesses, and use Medicare's considerable purchasing power to negotiate prescription drug costs. Those are common sense solutions.
But I won't ask our seniors to sacrifice more just to give millionaires and billionaires another tax cut. That doesn't shrink government, it just makes us all smaller. The budget isn't just a ledger of revenues and expenses. It is a statement of our values. It's about how we impact the lives of real people. Extremists in Congress don't seem to get that.
And I think that's why Mr. Huey's blueprint for our country is the wrong one.