Saturday, July 23, 2011

Sherrod Brown is at Least Sincere... at the Most a Champion of the Little Guy...

Thank you for getting in touch with me about the corporate tax code.
According to recent reports, certain companies have been able to operate within the law and take advantage of various loopholes and deductions to reduce their U.S. tax obligations and send jobs overseas.  It is frustrating to learn that companies making multi-billion dollar profits pay a lower tax rate than families earning $17,000 a year.
However, it is important to remember that what these companies are doing is legal under the tax code. That is why we need to reform the corporate tax code in a manner that simplifies the system and incentivizes the creation of jobs here at home.  If done right, corporate tax reform would broaden the tax base, increase government revenues, and reduce the deficit.
American workers can compete with people around the world if the federal government makes the needs of working families its priority.  However, if we fail to improve the tax code, corporations will continue to exploit the tax loopholes that help ship jobs overseas and exacerbate our nation’s fiscal situation.  
As the Senate considers reforms to the corporate tax code, I will be sure to keep your views in mind.  
Thank you for also getting in touch with me regarding proposals to reform Medicare.
Since the enactment of Medicare in 1965, Ohio’s seniors have no longer lived in fear of losing affordable, comprehensive health insurance when they retire.  Unfortunately, some in Congress want to dismantle Medicare in order to help offset the costs of tax cuts for the very wealthiest in our country.  I strongly oppose this proposal which is why I authored a letter (  signed by 49 of my Senate colleagues expressing our strong opposition of this plan.
House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan recently unveiled his chamber’s 2012 budget proposal.  This proposal would end Medicare as we know it and throw seniors into the private market with nothing more than an insufficient voucher to offset the rising cost of private health insurance.  So-called “premium support” — giving  seniors a voucher of approximately $8,000, as proposed by the Ryan budget — is a reckless and irresponsible way to address the health care needs of older Americans.  And it is an unacceptable means by which to finance tax cuts for those who are earning ten times or more than the retirement income of the average Medicare recipient.  
According to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), in the first year of the voucher program under the Ryan budget, out-of-pocket expenses for seniors would double under the plan adopted by the House majority to more than $12,500 annually.  For seniors on a fixed income, a doubling of out-of-pocket expenses is simply unaffordable, particularly when the average Social Security benefit inOhio is only $14,000 per year.  Worse yet, under the proposal, the annual increase for the vouchers will fall short of the actual rate of inflation for health care — meaning out-of-pocket expenses for seniors will continue to soar.
To make matters worse, this budget would repeal the health care reform law that will save $1.3 trillion dollars over the next 20 years according to the CBO.   Such a repeal would also stop in its tracks the effort to close the Medicare Part D coverage gap know as the “donut hole.”  This year, seniors in the “donut hole” are receiving half off brand name prescription medication and will receive increases in the discount each year until the “donut hole” is closed in 2020.  The Ryan Budget ends this fix and would leave seniors in the “donut hole” footing the bill.  The average senior in the “donut hole” would incur an additional $11,794 between 2012 and 2020 in prescription drug costs.  Now is not the time to be adding to seniors’ financial burden.
While deficit reduction is essential, balancing the budget by dismantling Medicare is both unfair to hard-working Americans and counterproductive.  If Medicare is turned into a voucher system and the health reform law is dismantled, millions of seniors will be left underinsured or uninsured.  This will add to the burden on our nation’s already overwhelmed emergency rooms and result in increased demands on Medicaid as seniors exhaust their life savings.  
Before the passage of Medicare, only half of America’s seniors had health insurance, and most of those with insurance only had coverage for inpatient hospital costs.  Now, only 1.8 percent lack health coverage and less than 9 percent live below the poverty line. We cannot afford to reverse these gains through the ultimate form of rationing health care for seniors: the replacement of Medicare as we know it.  The cost of these “savings” — for seniors and their families and taxpayers who will have the costs shifted on to them — is far too high.   Thank you again for sharing your thoughts with me.
Finally, thank you for getting in touch with me about Social Security reform.
While I understand concerns regarding the future of the program, I believe it is imperative that Social Security continues to remain strong for the well-being of our nation’s middle-class.
Social Security provides a vital safety net for approximately 55 million Americans, including more than 2 million Ohioans.  Reducing benefit levels or raising the retirement age for Social Security eligibility would pull the rug out from under Americans who have shaped their retirement planning around their earned Social Security benefits.  
The Social Security Trust Fund faces a long-term fiscal challenge that will require bipartisan dialogue.  Rather than reducing benefit levels that would cause undue financial hardship on hardworking men and women, we should seek alternatives to ensuring the solvency of the Trust Fund such as reviewing the level of the cap on taxable income.  It is also important to place Social Security in the context of our economic recovery and subsequent economic goals.  Job creation in the U.S. is crucial to stabilizing the Social Security the trust fund, which is one of many reasons our nation must review its trade and manufacturing policies to ensure we are positioned for success in the 21st century global economy.
I appreciate your concerns regarding this issue, and should Congress undertake legislation relating to Social Security I will certainly keep your views in mind.  
Thank you again for being in touch with me.
                         Sherrod Brown
                         United States Senator

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