August 6, 2014
The difference in priorities between Republicans and Democrats has made it difficult to report back a great deal of good news this week.
Before recessing for the month of August, Republicans in the House of Representatives passed a resolution to sue President Obama on the grounds of abusing his executive power. This lawsuit is nothing more than a waste of time and taxpayer money that distracts Americans from the failures of Republican leadership. The Republicans in Congress are so focused on preventing the President from achieving anything that they are willing to ignore the true issues facing our nation. The time and money used on this lawsuit could instead be used to address problems that directly impact American lives every single day.
House Republicans have demonstrated they would rather protect bank profits than increase access to Pell Grants and allow college students to refinance their student loan debts. They support employers making decisions for women’s reproductive health care instead of ensuring women receive equal pay for equal work. They prefer to use taxpayer money investigating the tragedy in Benghazi and suing President Obama than tax incentives to create good paying jobs. Approximately 25 million hard working Americans who deserve a pay raise still make the meager federal minimum wage. More than 3 million people have lost their vital emergency support due to Republicans refusal to renew the federal unemployment insurance program. Their leadership has blocked efforts by me and others to bring the unemployment reauthorization and a minimum wage increase to a vote. There is more than a little irony in the fact that Republicans raised no objections to President George W. Bush when he issued far more executive orders than Mr. Obama. In 2006, Bush extended the deadline and waived penalties for some seniors who had not signed up for the Medicare prescription drug program. Republicans supported President Bush’s decision and asked Democrats to do the same. Yet, they have the audacity to be hypocrites and sue the President. This lawsuit is a political stunt that some Republicans will not deny is a gateway for impeachment.
The Republicans who act in an absurd manner to disgrace President Obama’s legacy and leadership need to respect him and the majority of Americans who elected him for a second term. It is time that they show some responsibility and serve the people they swore to represent. We do not have to agree on how to govern but we must act responsibly to protect the interest of this nation. The Republican dysfunction must come to an end now. You and all the other Americans deserve better than this. On a brighter note, the Secretary of Health and Human Services recently announced that no increase is expected in Medicare Part B premiums in 2015 (the part that covers doctor visits). This good news comes on the heels of other encouraging developments. Medicare’s finances have been improving as the Affordable Care Act (ACA) continues to play a part in lowering health care spending. In its annual report, the Medicare Trustees extended by four years their projection of full solvency for the Medicare Trust Fund until 2030. Since passage of the ACA in 2010, the life of the Medicare Trust Fund has been extended by 13 years. Social Security Trustees reported no change in their projection for the Social Security Trust Fund, which is forecast to reach a tipping point in 2033. After that date, it’s estimated the Fund will still be able to pay approximately 77 percent of benefits for the foreseeable future. I want to emphasize that both programs are fundamentally sound and future shortfalls can be avoided with prudent action that does not involve a reduction in benefits.
I stand ready to work with colleagues in Congress who share my commitment to take the necessary steps that will keep Medicare and Social Security rock solid for generations to come. Have a good week everyone.