HUNTINGTON, W.Va. - At an event hosted by West Virginia Citizen Action Group commemorating the 77th anniversary of Social Security, U.S. Rep. Nick Rahall (D-W.Va.) Tuesday defended the popular retirement and disability insurance program, and excoriated proposals to end the traditional benefit guarantees for Social Security and Medicare that have been advanced by Republicans in Washington.
"In this economy, with high gas and energy prices and increasing food and health care costs, with West Virginia seniors and working families - many on fixed incomes - struggling to make ends meet, the importance of protecting and strengthening Social Security, now in its 77th year, as well as Medicare and Medicaid, should be self-evident," said Rahall. "Social Security and Medicare have helped to keep generations of working families out of poverty; they are vital to ensuring our seniors live and retire in dignity after a lifetime of labor."
According to a new report released by the Strengthen Social Security and Social Security Works coalitions, which details the impact of Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid on the economy and population of West Virginia, one in four West Virginians - including retirees, widows, and children - collects Social Security benefits, receiving an average $13,000 in annual payments, totaling nearly $6 billion in 2010.
"Some newspaper editorials would have us believe that Social Security is a 'bum deal' for workers. But the 'Strengthen Social Security' report got it exactly right when it described Social Security as a 'fortress of security and reliability.' In good and bad times, in booms and busts, Social Security has never missed a payment; every dollar of earned benefits has been paid on time, in full. It's disability, retirement, and life insurance, all rolled into one. That is hardly a bum deal. What 401(k) could ever promise a deal like that?" noted Rahall.
Rahall opposed the so-called Ryan budget, named after House Republican Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, which was passed by the Republican-controlled House of Representatives earlier this year, because it included a controversial proposal to restructure Medicare into a voucher system, ending the guaranteed payment of benefits for seniors' health care, and hinted at similar changes to the Social Security program. Rahall also opposed the Ryan budget because it would have cut deeply into domestic investments in transportation and water infrastructure, education and health care, law enforcement, and other job creating programs, while extending tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans.
"Not surprisingly, there are some Members in Congress who are fanatical about slashing spending, without regard to the effects on working, middle-class families and the economy. You might have heard of one them, because he was just picked this past weekend to be the Republican Vice Presidential Candidate. He is a leader of the Republican pack that has set its sights on privatizing Social Security, as well as Medicare, ending the traditional programs that working West Virginians have spent a lifetime paying into. These are the same people crying crocodile tears about deficits, while pushing for trillions of dollars of new tax breaks and giveaways for millionaires and multinational conglomerates," said Rahall.
Rahall has been active and vocal proponent of strengthening and protecting Social Security and Medicare, cosponsoring legislation to ensure the payment of annual COLAS for seniors, and fighting efforts to divert Social Security funds into paying for unrelated Federal programs.
"As long as the fanatics are out there decrying Social Security and Medicare, using deficits as an excuse to reduce health coverage and shift more costs to seniors, I am going to be out there decrying their extreme budget proposals, making sure it's clear that Social Security and Medicare are not the cause of our current budgetary woes, and they ought not be used as a piggy bank for unrelated spending. I believe strongly that seniors deserve the benefits they are owed after a lifetime of paying into Social Security and Medicare; those obligations must be honored," said Rahall.
Read this original document at: http://rahall.house.gov/press-release/rahall-strengthen-and-protect-social-security-medicare