PENN YAN—Democratic Congressional Nominee Tracy Mitrano (NY-23) said that the next Congress will have to take strong and immediate action to strengthen and expand Social Security and Medicare—and to ensure that for decades to come, Americans receive the benefits for which they have paid and which they deserve.

Social Security and Medicare were implemented by Democratic administrations in the 1930s and 1960s in order to ensure that older Americans, as well as their dependents and those with disabilities, receive an adequate income and health insurance.

Today, the programs are cornerstones of American society: last year alone, Social Security made payments to 62 million beneficiaries, while 58.4 million Americans received health insurance through Medicare. Over 3 million people in New York State are on Medicare, while 166,000 people in the 23rd Congressional District alone rely on their Social Security checks to pay their bills. 118,850 are retirees over 65, while another 26,363 are disabled workers. Nearly 12,000 children also benefit from this crucial safety net.

“In many ways, these programs are the bedrock of American democracy—of the commitment of our government to its people,” Mitrano said. “During the Great Depression, far too many aging Americans were living in poverty, despite having worked for their whole lives. Today, Social Security payments help millions of retirees make ends meet. Medicare allows millions to access the health care they deserve. But it’s still not enough. As a nation, we need to strengthen these programs and keep them away from predatory private interests.”

Mitrano supports raising the earnings cap on the Social Security tax. In 2018, the cap was $128,400, which meant that an individual who received a higher income did not pay any Social Security tax on those additional earnings. She also supports an expansion of Medicare through the lowering of the age of eligibility, so that more Americans who are in need of health care are able to receive coverage.

The Democratic nominee does not believe that the Republican party shares her commitment. In June of this year, the House Budget Committee unveiled their plan to balance the federal budget by 2027. The proposal, which was approved by the Republican-dominated committee by a 21-13 vote along party lines, laid out a plan for sweeping cuts to federal discretionary spending, including drastic cuts to social welfare programs.

Under the budget, Medicare funding would be reduced by $537 billion over the next ten years, while Social Security funding would be cut by $4 billion over the same period. While budget proposals of the kind released by the Republican House Majority earlier this summer have little practical or legal impact, they do serve as blueprints for a party’s priorities.

“In a word, the Republican position on these issues is callous,” Mitrano said. “Less than a year ago, the Republicans were so unconcerned about the budget that they passed a massive tax overhaul, an overhaul that disproportionately benefits the wealthiest while adding what the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office projects will be $1.4 trillion to the debt over the next decade. Giving such sweeping windfalls to the rich while advocating cuts for essential programs such as Social Security and Medicare is self-serving, reckless, and immoral. If you vote for tax cuts over robust social programs like Social Security and Medicare, which support Americans who have spent their working lives paying into these programs, than you care more about wealthy corporate donors than you do about the people of this country.”

Mitrano drew a contrast between how she would act on the issue and how her opponent, Tom Reed, has acted over his past eight years in Congress.

“Tom Reed says that he is concerned about Social Security and Medicare, but his voting record does not reflect it.  He authored and advocated for the Tax Cuts Act. He has voted repeatedly to repeal the Affordable Care Act, while offering no other form of affordable health care, and he has been critical of people who rely on Social Security,” said Mitrano. “Yet he is the representative of a district where over 12,000 children are without any form of health insurance, 40 percent of schoolchildren are on free and reduced lunch programs, and more than half of the families—including a disproportionate number of those who are disabled and elderly— live in poverty. As such, his voting record is a stunning misrepresentation of the people of this district.  It is time for the people of the 23rd to have a representative who genuinely cares about them and will fight for the social programs that they need and deserve.”

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