A budget plan supported by Republicans in Congress would cut $500 billion from Medicare and $1 trillion from Medicaid over the course of 10 years to finance tax cuts that would benefit big corporations and the wealthiest 1 percent of Americans, U.S. Sen. Bob Casey said in an appearance at the Elizabethtown Senior Center.
Pennsylvania’s senior senator spoke at the senior center on Tuesday, Oct. 10, to explain his opposition to the plan, which he said would cause major problems for people who depend on the programs. Medicare is primarily a program for senior citizens, though there are some people under the age of 65 on the program. Medicaid is a program for low-income people of all ages.
“Long-term care costs a lot of money. That’s why we have the Medicaid program. … We’re a great country and we can afford to pay for Medicaid just like we can afford to pay for the greatest military in the world,” Casey said.
Casey, the ranking Democrat on the Senate’s Special Committee on Aging, said he would prefer to work with Republicans, but the bills coming from the other side of the aisle have not been productive attempts to solve problems.
“Every single bill that they’ve proposed has been a bad bill,” Casey said.
The House of Representatives passed a $4.1 trillion budget on Thursday, Oct. 5, the reprises a controversial plan to turn Medicare into a voucher-like program for future retirees as well as the party’s efforts to repeal the “Obamacare” health law. The Associated Press reported that Republicans controlling Congress have no plans to actually implement those cuts while they pursue their tax overhaul. The AP reported that proposals for spending cuts are limited to nonbinding promises, and even a token 10-year, $200 billion spending cut package appears likely to be scrapped in upcoming talks with the Senate.
Casey described the budget proposal as a giveaway to the wealthy.
“The budget that the majority proposed is really good if you have a huge corporation,” Casey said, adding that it has $427 billion in tax cuts over 10 years, reducing the top rate from 39.5 percent to 35 percent.
“While they’re giving away the store to the most wealthy and the most powerful, they’re taking away from Medicare and Medicaid,” Casey said.
But Casey said he would fight for what he considers to be better priorities.
“We’re just beginning, just starting to have a debate about the budget and tax policy,” Casey said.