Washington, D.C. - Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi spoke on the House floor today in opposition to the Republican budget sponsored by Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, which passed the House today, that ends Medicare. Below are the Leader's remarks.
“Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. I thank the gentleman for yielding. I thank him for bringing a budget proposal to the floor today that is a statement of our national values, about what we care about: investing in our children, honoring our seniors, growing, creating jobs, growing the economy, strengthening the middle class. Thank you, Mr. Van Hollen, for your great leadership in that regard.
“Mr. Speaker, today we will be taking a vote that is very, very important for the health and security of American seniors. A great deal is at stake.
“And I am just going to focus on one part of this Republican budget. I want to say to my Republican colleagues: do you realize that your leadership is asking you to cast a vote today to abolish Medicare as we know it? Because that is the vote that we have. This is not about an issue. This is about a value. This is about an ethic.
“Medicare is a core value of our social compact with the American people, yet this budget shreds that contract, which is part of the strength of our country. The Republican proposal breaks the promise that our country has made to our seniors, that after a lifetime of work they will be able to depend on Medicare to protect them in retirement. This plan, the Republican plan, ends Medicare as we know it and dramatically reduces benefits for seniors. It forces them to pay more, to buy their insurance from the health insurance companies, where the average senior would be forced to pay twice as much for half of the benefits. I want to repeat that. The Republican plan forces seniors to buy their insurance from health insurance companies, where the average senior would be forced to pay twice as much for half of the benefits--as much as twenty thousand dollars per year more for some seniors.
“This plan has the wrong priorities--for our seniors and for all Americans. The Republican budget, just remember these three things: ends Medicare as we know it as they give big tax breaks and subsidies, tens of billions of dollars to Big Oil; this budget reduces Medicaid for our seniors in nursing homes, sending them away from nursing homes while it gives tax breaks to companies that send jobs overseas; this budget hurts our children's education, in fact, it increases the cost of higher education for nearly 10 million of our young adults while it gives tax breaks to America's wealthiest families. That's just not fair. It is just not the American way.
“Here we are. Yesterday we observed the 100th day of the Republican majority in Congress. In that 100 days, not one job has been created, not one job agenda is in the works. And what are we doing? We are here to abolish Medicare instead.
“I have heard our colleagues say that the budget deficit is immoral. It's been immoral for the 8 years of the Bush Administration. I didn't hear anybody say ‘boo' while we were giving tax cuts to the rich, having two wars unpaid for, and giving a prescription drug bill to the private sector.
“Democrats are committed to reducing the deficit. We have demonstrated that we can during the Clinton Administration, and we will. We are committed to strengthening the middle class, to growing our economy, to reduce the deficit and to creating jobs. The Republican budget fails to do that and the Republican budget will not have Democratic support. We are here as one of the previous speakers said: ‘Now is the time.' Now is the time to preserve Medicare, and Democrats will. I urge a ‘no' vote on the Republican plan.”