In elevating deficit reduction to his highest priority and setting up the deficit reduction supercommittee in 2011, President Obama made it clear that benefits programs were on the chopping block and that he would negotiate with Republicans on how to curtail them. Now, Representative Paul Ryan’s budget is in the spotlight, which also threatens services that millions of Americans depend on.
“Ryan's extreme budget ideas were rejected by Congress, including many of his own Republican colleagues,” said Stein. “Americans value Medicare and Social Security, and do not want to be the sacrificial lambs for deficit reduction, especially when they see the massive waste in the private health insurance industry, the bloated Pentagon budget, and the backroom Wall Street bailouts.”
When Congress mandated some $2 trillion in deficit reduction over ten years, President Obama called for $4 trillion, increasing the pressure for devastating cuts to essential programs. President Obama has proposed $320 billion in Medicare and Medicaid cuts, including higher premiums and co-pays such as a $100 homecare fee for frail elders. In addition, he called for cuts in the cost of living adjustment for Social Security benefits, which over half of elders depend on for the vast majority of their income, and which is already inadequate to meet basic needs.
“Americans deserve affordable health care and economic security in their retirement. We will get neither if we continue down the road to austerity being promoted by both Ryan and Obama,” said Stein.
“What Americans need from our President is a clear statement that cutting Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid benefits are off the table,” said Honkala. “Under a Green administration, we will implement cost savings measures that address the federal deficit without any cuts to benefits or services.”
Stein and Honkala are the only candidates who are not sponsored by Wall Street, and the only ones whose platform includes protection for critical programs that include Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps and Meals on Wheels.
Stein, a Harvard-trained physician who once ran against Mitt Romney for Governor of Massachusetts, is proposing a Green New Deal for America - a four part policy strategy for moving America quickly out of crisis into a secure, sustainable future. Inspired by the New Deal programs that helped the U.S. out of the Great Depression of the 1930s, the Green New Deal proposes to provide similar relief and create an economy that makes communities sustainable, healthy and just. The Green New Deal fully protects Medicare and Social Security and restores the fiscal security for these benefits.
Running mate Cheri Honkala, the nation’s leading anti-poverty advocate, is National Coordinator for the Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign, one of the country’s largest multi-racial, inter-generational movements led by the poor and homeless. Compelled by her own experience as a homeless, single mom, Honkala has spent nearly three decades working directly alongside the poor to build the movement to end poverty, and has organized tens of thousands of people to take action via marches, demonstrations and tent cities.