As Congress and the White House enter budget negotiations in the lame duck session, Jobs with Justice local coalition leaders from around the country traveled to Washington, D.C., to make sure working families have a voice in the deliberations. In meetings across Capitol Hill this week, local leaders had a simple message for their senators: let the Bush tax cuts expire for the richest 2% of Americans and protect Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security.
The richest 2% of Americans make more than $250,000. Raising the tax rate on income over the $250,000 mark would save the country about $1 trillion over 10 years. That’s money that can be spent on putting people back to work and infrastructure investments.
When it comes to Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security, the problems aren’t with the programs. Both Medicare and Medicaid are more efficient than private insurance and offer lower costs. Cutting benefits in these programs only hurts those who need them most by shifting the cost burden to workers and retirees. It doesn’t address the real problem: health care costs continue to grow at an unsustainable rate throughout the system. And Social Security has never contributed to the deficit because, by law, it can only pay out in benefits as much as it collects in taxes and income from U.S. Treasury bonds. It shouldn’t be part of any deficit reduction negotiations.
This is the message activists from places like Maine (Food AND Medicine), Vermont (Vermont Workers’ Center), New York (ALIGN, Coalition for Economic Justice, Long Island Jobs with Justice), and North Carolina (North Carolina Triad Jobs with Justice) delivered to their senators. They offered an important reminder that behind budget spreadsheets and policy formulas stand real people who will be devastated by cuts to these important programs.