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Open Letter to Bill Cassidy: Since You Brought Up the Topic of Reading…

Open Letter to Bill Cassidy

Since You Brought Up the Topic of Reading… Have You Read the Budgets You Keep Voting For — The Ones That Harm Louisiana Seniors and Middle-Class Families?

Dear Congressman Bill Cassidy,

Since you first went to Washington, you have voted for budget plans that have dire implications for Medicare, Social Security and education. However, it’s unclear if you actually understand the impact of your actions on Louisiana seniors, students and middle-class families. Louisiana voters might even wonder if you’ve ever taken the time to read the budgets you backed in 2011, 2012, 2013 and again in 2014.

There was that one time you said you needed to look into the effects of how the budget you voted for would impact the National Flood Insurance Program. Here’s a hint: It argued that the provisions in Biggert-Waters did not go far enough in cutting NFIP subsidies, which help to keep flood insurance affordable for nearly half a million Louisiana families.

Then there was that other time you dismissed questions about your budget votes as “monkey dust.” News flash: These are just a few of the devastating impacts of the budgets you’ve endorsed:

  • Essentially end Medicare and transform it into a voucher system
  • Force seniors to pay more out of pocket to stay in Medicare
  • Raise the retirement age for Social Security to 70
  • Raise the retirement age for Medicare to 70
  • Raise taxes on the middle class by an average of $2,000, to pay for tax breaks for millionaires and billionaires
  • Slash job search assistance and training programs for Louisiana workers
  • Slash funding for Pell Grants for thousands of Louisiana students

I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt. Maybe you actually did read the budgets you voted for. That raises the question — why? Don’t you care about how these budgets will hurt Louisiana’s seniors, students and middle-class families?

Congressman Cassidy, I hope you review this research as you travel the state on the campaign trail. Consider this your reading assignment for the week from the voters of Louisiana.

Sincerely,

Stephen Handwerk
Executive Director, Louisiana Democratic Party

 

BACKGROUND

Bill Cassidy Voted For The Ryan Budget For FY 2015, 2014, 2013 and 2012. [H. Con. Res. 96, Vote #177, 4/10/14; H. Con. Res. 25, Vote #88, 3/21/13; H. Con. Res. 112, Vote #151, 3/29/12; H. Con. Res. 34, Vote #277, 4/15/11]

  • The Ryan Plan “Would Essentially End Medicare.” “Republicans will present this week a 2012 budget proposal that would cut more than $4 trillion from federal spending projected over the next decade and transform the Medicare health program for the elderly, a move that will dramatically reshape the budget debate in Washington. The budget has been prepared by Rep. Paul Ryan, a Wisconsin Republican and the new chairman of the House Budget Committee, and it represents the most complete attempt so far by Republicans to make good on their promises during the 2010 midterm elections to cut government spending and deficits. Though Rep. Ryan based the Medicare portion of his budget on a previous plan created in collaboration with a Democrat, Alice Rivlin, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and long-time budget expert, the current plan isn’t likely to get much Democratic support. Instead, it will set up a broad debate over spending and the role of government heading into the 2012 general election. The plan would essentially end Medicare, which now pays most of the health-care bills for 48 million elderly and disabled Americans, as a program that directly pays those bills.” [Wall Street Journal, 4/4/11]
  • The FY 2015 Ryan Budget Will Force Seniors To Pay More To Remain In Medicare. Under the Ryan budget proposal, more than 45 million seniors could be forced to choose between traditional Medicare and a voucher program starting in 2024. According to a previous Congressional Budget Office report, the proposal would force seniors who want to remain in traditional Medicare to pay $800 more per year than they would have under current law, raising premiums by 50 percent. Furthermore, seniors electing to stay in traditional Medicare and avoid buying private insurance will pay $1,200 more than seniors in private plans.  Private plans would be permitted to tailor benefit packages to attract healthier beneficiaries and leave the sicker, more expensive patients for Medicare. Over time, Medicare would become less financially viable and would have to raise premiums, driving away more healthy beneficiaries and setting off a premium spiral that could unravel the program. [House Republican Budget Chairman’s Mark, 4/1/14; CBO,  9/13/14; Census, 2010; CAP, 4/1/14; DPCC, 3/13/13; CBPP, 3/15/13]
  • The FY 2015 Ryan Budget Raises Taxes On The Middle Class By $2,000, Giving Millionaires A Tax Cut Of Over $87,000 Each. The Ryan budget proposes to lower tax rates for high-income earners from 39.6% to 25%, which would require the middle-class to pay more in taxes in order for the budget to balance as proposed. A Tax Policy Center analysis of a similar proposal found that the tax reductions for high-income earners would cost $5.7 trillion, making it mathematically impossible “to enact Rep. Ryan’s tax policies in a deficit-neutral tax reform without including big tax increases for low- and middle-income taxpayers.” Taxpayers with income exceeding $1 million would receive an average net tax decrease of over $87,000, according to a White House analysis. In order to pay for these tax breaks, the Ryan budget would  raise taxes on middle class families with children by an average of at least $2,000. [House Republican Budget Chairman’s Mark, 4/1/14; New York Times Editorial, 4/01/14; TPC, 3/15/13; TPC, 8/1/12; CTJ, 4/2/14; WH,4/1/14; WH, 4/8/14]
  • The FY 2015 Ryan Budget Would Lead To 31,900 Fewer Louisianians Receiving Job Search Assistance And 13,500 Fewer Louisianians Receiving Training And Employment Services. [White House, 4/9/14]
  • The FY 2015 Ryan Budget Would Cut Pell Grants Funding For Louisiana Students By $43.2 Million. [White House, 4/9/14]
  • The FY 2015 Ryan Budget Would Cut Pell Grants Entirely For 9,030 Louisiana Students. [White House, 4/9/14]

Bill Cassidy Voted For The Republican Study Committee Budget For FY 2015, 2014, 2013 and 2012. [H. Con. Res. 96, Vote #175, 4/10/14; H.Con.Res.25, Vote #86, 3/20/13; H.Con.Res.112, Vote #149, 3/29/12; H.Con.Res.34, Vote #275, 4/15/11]

  • The FY 2015 RSC Budget Raised The Retirement Age For Social Security To 70. “This budget would slowly phase in an increase in the Social Security full-retirement age. The full retirement age would continue the current-law’s gradual increase of two months per year beginning in 2022 until the full retirement age reaches 70.” [The FY 2015 RSC Budget, accessed 4/9/14]
  • The FY 2014 RSC Budget Increased The Medicare Retirement Age To 70. “To address the increased demands on Medicare, this budget proposes raising the age of Medicare eligibility, beginning in 2024, by two months every year beginning with those born in 1959 until the eligibility age reaches 70, bringing Medicare eligibility in parity with Social Security.” [Republican Study Committee FY 2014 Budget, accessed 5/10/13]

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