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Set Priorities and Put our Financial House in Order

Suzanne Bonamici – Keeping Our Promises on MedicareWe need to get our priorities straight to get the debt and deficits under control, and the right way to do it is with Oregon values.

We should not cut Social Security and Medicare to continue tax cuts for millionaires. We should not cut college funding and job training to protect tax breaks for big oil companies. Instead, we need to support efforts to create jobs, rebuild America and get our economy moving again. Investments in our schools and college funding are not line items that can be cut indiscriminately – and certainly not when we need to be turning out the innovators of tomorrow that will keep our economy growing in the long term.

To refocus Congress and taxpayer dollars on the right priorities, the first steps must be to:

  • end the Bush tax cuts for millionaires,
  • end tax breaks for individuals, corporation and established industries like big oil that can thrive without them; and
  • end the war in Afghanistan.

Those steps alone put billions of dollars back on the table that can be used to reduce our debt and fund our priorities – creating jobs, supporting our small businesses, investing in education and keeping our promise on Social Security and Medicare.

Putting our Financial House in Order is a Matter of Priorities

Choose to protect seniors and the most vulnerable over tax cuts for millionaires. Every member of Congress has a choice; I choose to protect our seniors and the most vulnerable. Our seniors did not cause the financial crash and they should not be penalized. For example, according to calculations by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, ending tax cuts for upper-income earners could prevent a Social Security shortfall for the next 75 years.

Choose to protect education over subsidies for big oil. Subsidies for big oil companies are estimated to cost $4 billion annually. The average Pell Grant award is approximately $4,000 a year. Ending the subsidies could reduce the debt as well as provide more low and middle-income students with assistance to pursue a post-secondary college education.

Reduce Medicare costs. States like Oregon negotiate prescription drug prices to save taxpayer dollars, and the federal government does this for veterans. It’s time to negotiate prices for Medicare as well. This logical step could save money for our seniors – many of whom are on fixed incomes. It’s time to stand up for seniors and take this important step to control costs in Medicare.

Crack down on fraud. We must step up our efforts to go after those who fraudulently abuse Medicare and Medicaid. Medicare and Medicaid fraud is costing us billions of dollars a year.

Reform agricultural subsidies to support small farmers, local economies. I support reforming commodity subsidies – most of which go to large farm operations – and using some of the savings to reduce the debt and increase support for small agricultural businesses like we have in Oregon. By refocusing resources to grow local markets for agricultural products and connecting small farmers with schools to increase fresh fruits and vegetables in school lunches, we can support jobs in rural Oregon and improve the health of our communities.