Washington, D.C.– Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva, co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, today released the following statement on last night’s debt ceiling speech by President Obama and the current “grand bargain” budget proposals:
“I was very relieved to hear the president make the crucial distinction between wasteful spending and expensive tax giveaways on the one hand and Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security on the other. He got it exactly right when he said, ‘Most Americans, regardless of political party, don’t understand how we can ask a senior citizen to pay more for her Medicare before we ask corporate jet owners and oil companies to give up tax breaks that other companies don’t get. How can we ask a student to pay more for college before we ask hedge fund managers to stop paying taxes at a lower rate than their secretaries? How can we slash funding for education and clean energy before we ask people like me to give up tax breaks we don’t need and didn’t ask for?’ As a responsible government, we cannot and must not pass the buck to working families and retirees who are already struggling, and I thank the president for saying so.
I’m encouraged by the fact that Sen. Harry Reid’s budget plan completely preserves Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. I remain concerned about what his proposed $2.7 trillion in cuts would mean to working families and retirees, but am heartened by his unwavering support for these three crucial programs. Speaker Boehner’s proposal, in contrast, has rightly faced criticism from all political angles and stands no chance of passage. He wants to eliminate $1.8 trillion in program and assistance funding – almost certainly including steep cuts to Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security – without a dime of new revenue, from billionaires or anyone else. His plan treats the national budget as back-of-the-envelope arithmetic rather than an economic engine for this country. The American people will not be sorry to see it fail.
I and many of my House Democratic colleagues have made our position very clear: we will not support any reduction in Medicare, Medicaid or Social Security benefits or eligibility. Our constituents sent us to Washington to work for their interests first and foremost. They did not send us here to force a default crisis or make ideological demands at the nation’s expense. Speaker Boehner should be asked why his plan mortgages his constituents’ futures so CEOs and multi-millionaires don’t have to pay another cent to help our economic recovery.”