(KS-1) We Have Harmed Those Least Able to Tell Us About It
by John Doll, Wed Aug 09, 2006 at 04:21:41 AM EDT
Our Congress has made life easier for large corporations, many of which pay few taxes and outsource their workers overseas anyway - while simultaneously making life more difficult for the vulnerable, particularly senior citizens that are no longer able to "pull themselves up by their bootstraps."
I am running for the US Congress in 2006 because I am outraged. Our policies are wrong. Our Congress is dangerous and creates harm for the vulnerable among us. It angers me that our current Congress has cut deeply into programs that serve citizens that are the least able to stand up for themselves or speak out on their own behalf.
Medicare now provides health insurance to virtually every American over 65 and millions of younger people with disabilities. Under a Democratic Administration, the life of the Medicare Trust Fund was extended by 25 years. But recent congressional policies and this uncertain economy have undermined the strong progress made in decades past. This year, the life of the Medicare Trust Fund actually was shortened by four years. And Medicare is currently projected to become insolvent in the middle of the retirement of the baby boom generation if things remain the same.
We must fight for more responsible budget priorities that improve Medicare and honor our obligations to our parents without unduly burdening our children.
I am also outraged by the congressional raid on the Social Security Trust Fund in the last 6 years. For several years, the Republican controlled Congress has raided our Social Security Trust Fund. They have used our Social Security fund money to pay for their extravagant overspending on unrelated activities, such as tax cuts for mostly the smallest minority of the wealthiest few, the ill-conceived war in Iraq, over priced no-bid government contracts, and other wasteful projects.
Now, they would like you to believe that our Social Security Trust Fund is out of money. They hope that you will believe this so that they can do what they have always wanted to do anyway - cut social security benefits, eliminate government responsibility, and eventually hand it all over to the private sector.
Social Security faces a fixable financing problem - but the president's privatization plan actually makes that problem worse. Privatization is the real Social Security crisis. This is absolutely the wrong direction for our country.
In order to protect seniors and the Social Security Program, we must take Congress back from these congressmen and women. According to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, Social Security can pay 100 percent of promised benefits until at least the year 2052 - nearly half a century into the future. And since funding for Social Security checks is generated each year by contributions from current workers, the only way for the Social Security system to run out of money is for Americans to simply stop working.
Social Security provides guaranteed economic security for more than 47 million grandparents, parents, individuals and children nationwide. Social Security is designed to support families when a family breadwinner retires, becomes disabled and is no longer able to work, or dies. Social Security is efficient - costing less than 1 percent per dollar in administrative costs. There is simply no comparison between Social Security and the 12 to 14 percent fees of private insurers charge. Nearly two-thirds of retirees count on Social Security for most of their retirement income.
I support placing the Social Security Trust Fund in a lock-box protection from these congressional raiders. We must insist that the Trust Fund be paid back and protected from any future raids.
We know the most secure retirement belongs to retirees who can count on a pension or 401(k) in addition to Social Security and personal savings. But the total value of 401(k) plans dropped last year, and pension plans nationwide are under funded by $320 billion. Our government has allowed corporations to abandon pension programs that employees have counted on for decades. The Bush Administration has asked for legislation that would give big companies the ability to make deep cuts in pension benefits for older workers. This is misguided.
America can be better than this.
We can do better. I believe we must honor our collective and historic commitment to senior citizens so that all Americans can retire with security and dignity.
I will always speak out always for the need to return the government to a path of fiscal responsibility, getting back to balanced budgets and fiscal discipline as soon as possible in order to protect the Medicare Trust Fund and Social Security Trust Fund for future retirees.
I will insist on putting seniors first by opposing risky strategies that put HMOs, private insurance plans, and drug companies in charge of seniors' health care.
I will fight to increase preventive benefits for seniors like flu shots and cancer screenings, and to add affordable, comprehensive prescription drug coverage.
I will work to secure pension benefits, make it easier for workers to save for retirement by enhancing and strengthening investment vehicles like 401(k)s and IRA plans, and provide clear information on retirement investment options.
I will fight for protections for older employees' pensions, requiring companies that want to change their pension systems to provide older workers with the same amount of benefits they would have received under the existing pension plan.
I will support legislation that eliminates special treatment for executive pension plans, preventing a repeat of the manner in which Enron showered its executives with special executive-deferred compensation benefits, while rank-and-file employees stood in line with all other creditors with little hope of recovering any of the billions in pension benefits that were lost.
I will advance a plan that makes permanent the saver's tax credit, a measure that helps low-income families save for the future.
I will always defend workers' pensions, toughening current law and criminal penalties for trust managers who violate workers' pension rights.
I will support a plan to give employees control over their retirement savings, allowing employees the right to diversify company-matched stock soon after plan participation. Enron employees, for example, were prevented from selling hundreds of millions of dollars in company-matched stock while executives were dumping their company stock.
I will fight vigorously the Republican proposed cutting of guaranteed Social Security benefits, insisting instead that we save, strengthen, and secure
I will demand that Congress uphold our collective commitment to preserve Social Security benefits by saving, strengthening and securing it.
I will support legislation that prevents Congress from spending Social Security taxes on anything but Social Security benefits.
I will oppose privatization of retirement benefits at every turn because privatization of Social Security isn't fiscally responsible and won't provide American workers with a secure retirement.
John Doll, Democrat for Congress (Kansas First District
Friends, I look forward to hearing from you. I welcome your comments about my commitment for retirement security for all Americans.