A new report issued this week by Strengthen Social Security & the Alliance for Retired Americans shows Social Security, Medicare & Medicaid provide benefits to 1 out of every 9 residents in Maryland's 8th district and contribute $2.9 billion per year to 8th district’s economy.
The report comes out just as Representative Chris Van Hollen of Maryland’s 8th District finishes his work on the congressional Super Committee tasked with reducing the federal deficit. The Committee must recommend at least $1.2 trillion in spending cuts by November 23. The full Congress must then approve these recommendations by the end of the year, or it will trigger automatic deficit reduction.
On a conference call Wednesday, David Waugh, 80, of Bethesda explained the ways that Social Security and Medicare helps Americans who have worked hard all their lives. Waugh began paying into Social Security at the age of 16 when he worked a factory job. When he found himself a widower in his 40’s while working full-time, Social Security allowed him to continue working and put his kids through school. Waugh's family again received vital help from Social Security when one of David’s sons was disabled in adulthood. David is now a retiree and Social Security has again become a key part of his financial stability, along with with Medicare. Without Medicare, he would have been unable to afford his surgery and the treatment to help him recover from his recent had emergency surgery for a brain tumor. David Waugh said:
“Social Security has taken a burden from the family…I don’t know how I would plan my life without it. Without Medicare, I would have been wiped out and deep in debt. I cannot imagine a world without it.”
Nancy Altman, who participated in the call yesterday said:
“Too often political and media elites talk about these programs as just cold, unfeeling facts and figures, as if they are divorced from the people whose lives they touch. Too often, the programs are talked about as ‘problems’ when in fact they really are ‘solutions’ – solutions that provide benefits that have been earned through the hard work of Americans.”
Although programs like Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid are widely scapegoated in federal deficit discussions, today’s report points out that they are not the true cause of the deficit. The report notes the large recent run-up in federal deficits resulted largely from 2001 and 2003 tax cuts; unpaid costs of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars; the Great Recession which dramatically reduced tax collections, and the Wall Street bank bailout. Correspondingly, in seeking solutions to the federal deficit, the Super Committee should be looking at its causes and should not be cutting Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, which are absolutely vital to the economic security of this nation.
Highlights from the new report:
• Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid spend a total of about $2.9 billion a year in Maryland’s 8th district, providing benefits to an average of 1 out of every 9 residents for each program.
• Social Security provided benefits to more than 1 in 9 (12.2 percent) 8th district residents in 2010, with an average benefit of $14,368 per year.
• Without Social Security, the elderly poverty rate in Maryland would increase from 1 out of 11 (9.2 percent) to one out of 3 (34.1 percent) residents.
• Social Security never has and will never contribute to federal budget deficits because, by law, it does not have borrowing authority.
• Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid are a lifeline for residents of Maryland and the lifeblood of many small businesses, hospitals and nursing homes and home caregivers. Most of the jobs they create stay in America. Cutting these programs would threaten our families’ economic security and health and deepen our jobs crisis.
• Two-thirds of all Medicaid spending is for seniors and people with disabilities. One out of every four (16 million) seniors and people with disabilities depended on Medicaid in 2010.
Read the full report.