Monday, July 11, 2011

Dear Mr. Ross:

Where are your specifics? Where are your proposed cuts? What do you consider to be “meaningful” as it pertains to spending cuts? This is an incredibly vague and nonspecific pulpit pounding that says absolutely nothing. Considering that the vice president of the United States is currently drawing Social Security, how can you even suggest that Social Security should not be on the table? Stop trying to play yourself off as a hero to helpless seniors, and start acting like a representative of all the people of this district, including those of us who do not draw Social Security, continue to pay the tax, and are less than confident that Social Security will even exist in twenty years – all because members of Congress are too busying posturing and not legislating. You can do more for seniors who truly depend on Social Security by addressing the legal abuses played out by well-to-do “seniors” like the vice president who are still earning more-than-adequate paychecks and will have more-than-adequate pensions. I am quite certain he is not alone.


Mike Daniel
Magnolia AR

PS: was comparing congressional action during the Reagan administration to that of the Obama administration your way of creating a “non-partisan” or “bipartisan” atmosphere?

Dear Friends:

In the next few weeks and months, Congress will make some major decisions about our nation’s budget that will impact each of us, particularly in regards to the nation’s debt ceiling. Currently, the debt ceiling – or the legal limit on how much debt the U.S. can accumulate – is $14.294 trillion. The U.S. Treasury Department has said it can continue to meet the government’s obligations until August 2, 2011, when the United States would begin defaulting on its financial obligations here at home and around the world.

Since Congress first established the debt ceiling in 1917, it has been raised 67 times, including 17 times under President Reagan and so far three times under President Obama. Raising the debt ceiling isn’t new, but the government’s out-of-control spending and national debt have reached unsustainable levels.

Recognizing the importance and urgency of the situation, the House of Representatives and the Senate have recently announced they are cancelling their scheduled district work periods in July to remain in Washington until the job gets done. I commend this decision. Congress needs to stay at work in Washington, stop the partisan bickering and start working together to draft a commonsense compromise that preserves America’s standing in the global economy, cuts spending and reduces our deficit.

I have previously said that I will not support any increase in the debt ceiling unless it includes meaningful spending cuts that will actually reduce our deficits without punishing America’s working families and seniors. That’s why on May 31st, I voted against a measure to raise the debt ceiling from $14.294 trillion to $16.7 trillion because it did not include any cuts to federal spending.

However, as the debt ceiling negotiations continue, many in Congress are demanding that substantial cuts to Social Security and Medicare be negotiated into any compromise to raise the debt ceiling. I fundamentally disagree. I want to cut spending and return to the days of balanced budgets more than anyone else, but I will not punish seniors who need Medicare and who deserve the Social Security benefits they earned.

For more than 75 years, Social Security has helped keep more than half of seniors out of poverty and it continues to be a critical financial lifeline for more than 620,000 Arkansans. In fact, in its long history, Social Security hasn’t contributed a single dime to the country’s current debt, according to the Congressional Budget Office. In fact, the surplus payroll tax revenue paid into the program over the years and loaned to the Treasury has actually kept the country’s deficits below where they would otherwise be. As the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) so clearly stated, “Social Security did not cause the deficit, and it should not be cut to reduce a deficit it did not cause.”

However, while Social Security continues to have surpluses, we must recognize that it is on an unsustainable path as “baby boomers” begin to retire. But, massive cuts to seniors’ already promised benefits are simply unfair and unacceptable. We must look at other ways to reform Social Security and Medicare that protect seniors, honor their lifetime of hard work and ensure both programs' long-term solvency.

In these uncertain economic times, Social Security and Medicare are more important now than ever before. Due in no small part to these life-saving programs, millions of seniors can live their lives with dignity and independence, instead of poverty and despair.

As your Congressman, I remain committed to ensuring Social Security and Medicare endure for the people of Arkansas and our nation as a whole. And, as a commonsense voice for Arkansas, I will continue to find ways we can cut spending and reduce our deficits without punishing our state’s most vulnerable citizens who are already scraping to get by and who did nothing to get us into this mess in the first place.

Mike Ross, D-AR

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