As the son of an elderly parent, Congressman Dutch Ruppersberger knows first-hand how important it is to protect our country’s most vulnerable citizens. His office devotes countless hours to helping Social Security and Medicare recipients understand the system and access the benefits they have paid for. Dutch believes:
Privatizing Social Security won’t work.
Dutch opposes any effort to privatize the Social Security system or replace any part of its guaranteed benefits with individual investment accounts. Such a system would be extremely expensive to set up and administer and would expose retirees to the volatility of America’s stock market. Studies show the market crash in 2008 would have stripped nearly 60 percent from retirement investors’ stock portfolios.
He is taking a close look at a legislative proposal that would give current and new beneficiaries a 2 percent benefit bump and index that annual COLA with the Consumer Price Index to better keep pace with the cost of drugs and medical services. The bill will give more than 11 million recipients a tax cut by having millionaires and billionaires pay the same rate into Social Security as ordinary workers. It also enables the system to earn a higher rate of return by gradually investing a portion of its reserves in equities.
Retirees who have worked and contributed to the system should be guaranteed their benefits.
Dutch opposes any effort to increase the full retirement age more than it has already. He also opposes reducing Social Security’s guaranteed benefits, altering the benefit formula or instituting means testing for both Medicare and Social Security. Dutch supports changing the Social Security formula so that it keeps up with inflation, and, in the meantime, will continue to support payments in lieu of COLAs to help seniors struggling to make ends meet.
Turning Medicare into a voucher program is a bad idea.
Stipends to purchase insurance in the private market would not likely keep up with inflation and, over time, seniors would be forced to pay more out-of-pocket. The best way to keep Medicare solvent is to lower prescription drug prices, which are increasing overall costs. We can do this by going after pharmaceutical manufacturers who are unjustifiably raising the prices on life-saving drugs. We also need to let Medicare negotiate group drug prices, like the Veterans Affairs department already does.
Fixing the deficit is important, but Social Security and Medicare shouldn’t be unfairly targeted for cuts.
Our entitlement programs must be put on stable financial ground, but any adjustments should be implemented over time so changes do not impact current beneficiaries or those near retirement. Dutch opposes cuts to domestic programs that help vulnerable seniors, like housing assistance, food stamps and medical research. He supports reauthorizing the Older Americans Act and increasing funding for programs that seniors need like Meals on Wheels, transportation assistance and caregiver support.