30 October 2008

Part 2 - Saving Social Security & Improving Medicare

psst! Exclusive - Rick Noriega Democratic Candidate for U. S. Senate (Part 2)

psst! We know that we had to respond to the outrageous rates of foreclosure and credit crunch, but tied to that are housing values that declined by another 17% in August. So, if you're retired and not facing foreclosure, but your equity in your home is your primary retirement investment, you're watching its value decline while facing a credit market which likely will not permit you to cash in on your equity anyway. Earlier, you called it a rough position. How do we craft something to provide assistance to these hard-working folks? Is it tax relief? What?

Noriega. "I think we extend middle-class tax cuts. I think we have to recognize the housing market was greatly inflated. I think that as a matter of our spending, our fiscal policies, that we have to tighten up. When we're just printing money we know that devalues and makes weaker the dollar.

I think through our tax policy, especially for working families and retirees, we look for ways to help them from taking it on the chin so severely as we see it heading in that direction.

psst! Let's talk about Medicare within the context of the current economic meltdown. We know there are some fixes that would help Medicare, such as reimportation and allowing the bidding for lower cost drugs in order to close the "donut hole". But, with the "baby-boomers" coming into the system, and in the face of today's economy, how do we fix Medicare so that it is there for coming generations.

Noriega. It is not so much a Medicare issue , in my opinion, as it is health care issue as the costs of health care continue to rise and we see more people entering Medicare because there are no other options, causing the need for Medicare to grow. You have seniors who can't afford any other health insurance; so it's a macro overhaul in order to have more people with health care, more access, and lowered costs. Then there are the provisions that you described, such as allowing Medicare to negotiate directly with pharmaceuticals to save the government $300-billion, and implementation of electronic medical records which saves another $160-billion. Also, in the plan we've laid-out, we would insure more children and create a "connector" allowing the government to provide tax incentives to small businesses providing insurance to their employees.

The bottom line is that we have to have more people with health care so that fewer and fewer people do not bear the cost burden through higher local taxes and higher, and higher premiums. These things, combined with more transparency, will act to overhaul health care costs, provide greater options and alternatives for people and will reduce reliance on Medicare and in turn act to reduce its costs.

psst! We know the Bush administration, and actually the Republicans for at least thirty years, have been trying to hand Social Security over to the croupiers of Wall Street. Can we, with any certainty, say that effort is dead in the face of the current economic crises? Or must we remain forever vigilant?

Noriega. I think we will always have to be on guard against this, because of the philosophy of deregulation, like my opponent [John Cornyn] subscribes to and has pushed for; including the privatization of Social Security. What a catastrophe this would be in the face of the current economic crises. A lot of our senior citizens are already losing money in the current market crises.

We need to stop stealing from the Social Security Trust Fund. Secondly we need to, as we did in the 1980s with a commitment to preserving Social Security, come together in a bipartisan way and look at all the options on the table and promulgate what it's going to take to preserve it. But, first we must stop taking from the Trust Fund to finance Iraq, and all these other things which just digs us deeper into the hole.


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