Tom Perriello: Social Security is a ‘promise’
Last week marked the 75th anniversary of Social Security. Social Security is a promise to American seniors – and those still working – that if they play by the rules and contribute to the system, they can retire with security and dignity. I am proud to have worked hard to extend the solvency of these programs and to block efforts to cut or privatize these sacred and successful programs for our seniors. We must continue to place Social Security and Medicare on stable footing for the long term so we fulfill our obligations to current and future recipients. This means rejecting risky schemes like privatization and an end to the games that both parties have played with these programs’ trust funds.
For 18 months, I have been preaching that true economic recovery only comes when we start to make, grow, and build in America again. It has been tough to get either party in Washington to grasp the importance of this simple and familiar rule, but in recent weeks I have seen encouraging signs that they may be coming around. We have won some important victories for manufacturing, construction, farming and forestry. The House passed two bills I cosponsored to eliminate our trade deficit and produce a coordinated national manufacturing strategy. These are common sense measures that ultimately received bipartisan support.
This week we won another overdue victory for America’s competitiveness by finally closing the offensive tax loopholes that subsidize multinational corporations for sending American jobs overseas. The House had voted to close the loopholes several times, and I had helped to lead those efforts, but they had ultimately died in the US Senate. But we would not give up on delivering a level playing field for the American worker, and last week we finally succeeded in ending this giveaway that had cost too many American jobs.
Using the revenue from closing these loopholes and also $17.7 billion in federal spending cuts, Congress last week passed the Education Jobs and Medicaid Assistance Act, a fully paid-for aid package to states that will keep teachers in the classrooms and police and firefighters on the beat, protecting our communities. The bill also helped states to ensure basic health care services for those who are struggling.
Many local governments have been hit hard by the economic downturn and would have had to either impose major tax increases or slash needed services, such as law enforcement and public education. By passing this aid package to the states we were able to prevent these tax hikes and ensure our children get a quality education that will allow them to compete in a global economy. With the school year about to begin, we took needed action to save 160,000 teaching jobs and another 150,000 jobs across America, including 437 teachers right here in the 5th Congressional District.
As part of the package, Virginia will also receive approximately $289 million for its Medicaid program to help provide basic medical care to low-income Virginians and ensure that doctors receive the reimbursements they were promised. Right now it is crucial to keep our quality doctors as participants in Medicaid and Medicare programs. Earlier this year, 47 Governors, including our own Governor Robert F. McDonnell, wrote Congressional leadership asking for this exact assistance. I supported efforts to respond to this bi-partisan call for relief and to make sure it did not add one dollar to the federal debt.
In order to help pay for the aid to states, we not only closed the tax loopholes that were paying companies to export jobs, but also made tough choices to cut some social programs. I have heard often from constituents that it is time for Congress to make tough decisions and set some priorities. That is what we did with this jobs bill. We have actually reduced the deficit by about $1.4 billion by making tough choices in tough times, just like Virginia families are doing every day.
Tom Perriello represents the Fifth District of Virginia in the United States House of Representatives.