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Legislative Viewpoint

President’s Proposed Budget Makes Billions of Dollars of Drastic Cuts to Medicare and Medicaid

Jim McGovernCongressman Jim McGovernFor the past two months, I’ve spent my weekends crisscrossing central and western Massachusetts and visiting coffee shops, town halls, and senior centers to hear directly from the people of Massachusetts’ Second Congressional District.
I believe this is what our democracy is all about: listening, learning, and deciding together how we can build a better future for our kids and grandkids. It gives me so much hope to know that people care about our country enough to show up and tell me what’s important to them. But lately, I’ve noticed that more and more often, I hear from people who are worried or downright scared about what’s going on in Washington.

I get it. Just a few months ago, the president proposed a budget that makes billions of dollars of drastic cuts to Medicare and Medicaid to help fund a tax cut for the wealthiest Americans. His budget also reduces funding for Social Security offices, which means longer in-person waits and more time on hold for older Americans and those with disabilities struggling to get help.

Now thankfully, the president’s budget won’t automatically become the law. In fact, Congress will likely write our own budget, and you can rest assured that I will strongly advocate for seniors and persons with disabilities during the coming months. I believe that instead of cutting these vital programs which we have fought so hard to create, we ought to be increasing benefits, protecting against inflation, and cutting taxes for beneficiaries who have paid into the system for their whole lives. That’s why I’m a proud supporter of the Social Security 2100 Act, which would expand the program by making a small, simple change: asking millionaires and billionaires to pay the exact same payroll tax rate as everyone else does.

I’ve also heard from so many older Americans who are now taking a bigger role in raising their grandchildren. This month, over 2.5 million children in America are in a household where a grandparent is the primary caregiver. The opioid epidemic that has affected so many communities is only expected to increase that number. It goes without saying that these grandparent-led households face unique challenges. They may not have time to plan financially, or it may be difficult for them to access school or healthcare information.

“I will do everything I can to fight for programs that help seniors and people with disabilities, and to ensure that every single person in this country is treated with dignity and respect.”

So last year, I teamed up with my colleagues in the House and Senate on both sides of the aisle to introduce the “Supporting Grandparents Raising Grandchildren Act” – which I’m proud to report was passed by the Senate and signed into law by the president. Our bill creates a new federal advisory council focused on developing and disseminating information designed to help grandparents. Currently, the Department of Health and Human Services is in the process of setting up this council, and I look forward to working with them to ensure that grandparent-led households have access to the tools and support they need.

Finally – in addition to fighting to protect Social Security benefits – I’m also proud to support the Social Security Fairness Act, which eliminates the Government Pension Offset (GPO) and the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP). These two programs reduce the Social Security benefits of an individual or surviving spouse who receives a public pension from a job not covered by Social Security. Just this past week, a constituent of mine called and was worried that should anything happen to her husband, she would be unable to support her family. I think these provisions are just plain wrong, and that’s why last week I submitted testimony to the Ways and Means Committee asking them to move this bipartisan legislation forward.
I want you to know that I am committed to ensuring that America keeps our promise to those who have made this country what it is today. I will do everything I can to fight for programs that help seniors and people with disabilities, and to ensure that every single person in this country is treated with dignity and respect.

If you or someone you know would like to contact me – or needs help with any federal agency or benefits – please call my office in Northampton at (413) 341-8700. I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Congressman Jim McGovern represents the Second Congressional District of Massachusetts in Congress, which includes the communities of Deerfield, Erving, Gill, Greenfield, Leverett, Montague, New Salem, Northfield, Orange, Shutesbury, Sunderland, Warwick, Wendell, and Whately. He is the Chairman of the House Rules Committee, the Congressional-Executive Commission on China, and he Co-Chairs the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission.