Thank you Leader Daschle for your outstanding leadership on the issues critical to Americas seniors.
Barbara Kennelly, my friend and former colleague, you are doing exceptional work at the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare. Seniors from across the country are grateful to have you as their voice in Washington.
And thank you to Mrs. Elsie Amis of Washington, D.C. for sharing your story with us today.
Today we are here to talk about the impact of the Presidents economic plan on seniors, which was formally introduced in Congress this morning.
Despite repeated promises to help seniors, President Bush has failed to provide a meaningful prescription drug benefit for all seniors. The reality of the Bush proposal is that seniors can choose their doctor or they can have their prescription drugs, but they cannot have both. The Bush plan forces seniors out of the trusted Medicare system and into HMOs if they want a drug benefit.
Social Security is a cherished American program. Increasingly many retired persons depend on Social Security to provide income. Future retirees are counting on Social Security to contribute to their retirement needs.
Despite repeated Republican promises not to spend any of the Social Security
surplus on tax cuts or anything else, President Bush raids this revered program
and spends every penny of that surplus over the next five years.
Now the Republicans and the President have another proposal for Americas seniors. They claim that the Presidents proposal to eliminate taxes on dividends will help the average senior. It wont.
Two out of every five elderly taxpayers would receive next to nothing from the Bush tax cut proposal - less than $2 per week. Nearly four out of every five seniors would receive less than the 'average' tax cut that President Bush claims seniors would receive.
In total, the two-thirds of all seniors who make less than $50,000 per year will receive only four percent of the dividend tax cut.
Whats going on here?
You guessed it - it is that credibility gap again - the gap between the Presidents lofty political rhetoric and the harsh realities of his policies. And this time it is affecting Americas seniors very directly.
President Bush can make room in his budget for the $388 billion necessary to eliminate the dividend tax, but he cant make room for a meaningful prescription drug benefit for seniors under Medicare.
President Bush can make room in his budget for a total of $1.85 trillion worth of new tax cuts over and above the $1.7 trillion in tax cuts that already passed, but he cant protect Social Security.
Democrats have a different set of values. We will fight for a meaningful prescription drug benefit under Medicare. We will fight to protect Social Security. And we will fight to meet the pressing needs of Americas seniors and make certain our resources are not diverted to tax cuts that largely benefit the wealthy.
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