WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD) released the following statement following President Obama’s speech today at George Washington University on his plan to deal with our nation’s deficit.
“Our budget problems were caused by two things during the Bush Administration: we reduced taxes on the highest earners and we went to war in both Iraq and Afghanistan without paying for them. President Obama today outlined a vision for reducing our nation’s deficit that provides for our nation’s future. It calls for higher taxes on wealthier Americans, trims the defense budget and lifts the cap on the amount of income that is assessed for Social Security. The President understands that if our nation is to remain a leader in the global economy, we must devote resources to our future and that means improving schools, funding scientific research and putting in place important upgrades to our infrastructure that will allow us to compete in the international marketplace.
“I have repeatedly said that our budget deficit needs to be addressed but it must be done in a way that is responsible and preserves important programs for middle-class Americans. Our discretionary budget accounts for only 12 percent of our budget, and slashing it will not achieve a balanced budget. We must have a comprehensive plan that looks at all spending — including entitlements, defense and revenues.
“The President also outlined a very different vision for Medicare and Medicaid from the radical proposal outlined by Congressman Paul Ryan (R-WI), a proposal that I believe is intended to cripple and ultimately kill both programs. We must remember that Medicare and Medicaid – along with Social Security – helped create the middle-class of the 20th Century. To attack these programs is to try and undo the progress we have made in creating the largest, most secure middle class in the world. Congressman Ryan also believes that the marginal tax rate for millionaires should be reduced and that those making a much more modest income should be taxed as the same rate as the wealthiest Americans. Congressman Ryan’s budget follows the same roadmap that got us to where we are today — – soaring deficits and a dwindling tax base..
President Obama understands that Medicare must remain a guaranteed benefit for seniors and the disabled if they are truly going to have access to health care. He also recognizes that to block grant Medicaid – a program for our nation’s lowest-income Americans, including those who depend on it for nursing home care — is to ensure its future demise. I applaud the President for outlining a budget that provides for a comprehensive plan to address our deficit in a way that preserves important programs for American families.”