Federal lawmakers hosted a large and boisterous group of Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security recipients Thursday on Capitol Hill, where they warned the deficit-reduction supercommittee about the devastating consequences of making cuts to these entitlement programs.
“The issue is this country does, in fact, have a serious deficit problem, but the reality is the deficit was caused by two wars—unpaid for; it was caused by huge tax breaks for the wealthiest people in this country; it was caused by a recession that was the result of the greed, recklessness and illegal behavior on Wall Street,” said Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who was joined by fellow Sens. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) and Ben Cardin (D-Md.) and Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.). “And if those are the causes of the deficit and the national debt, I will be damned if we're going to balance the budget on the backs of the elderly, the sick, the children and the poor.”
Somewhat of a “town hall” event that featured remarks from Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security beneficiaries nationwide, the gathering also welcomed Dr. Jessica Eng, a physician at Boston Medical Center.
“One of the proposals we've heard in media reports involves cuts to graduate medical education—the very program in Medicare that allows physicians like me to work in hospitals like BMC and undergo on-the-job training we'll need to become the physician workforce of the future,” Eng said. “With a shortage of primary-care doctors and an aging population, that's clearly the opposite of how we need to be investing in our healthcare system.”
The Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction remains deadlocked on a proposal to cut at least $1.2 trillion in federal spending over 10 years as it faces a Nov. 23 deadline to deliver a plan to Congress.