WARNING - this is not a drill!
GOP Plans to Cut Social Security and Medicare Are Real - And They Must be Stopped
These seniors clearly understand what GOP leaders fail to recognize: Social Security and Medicare are not “entitlements.” They are earned benefits we pay into from our very first day on the job - and they are not to be used to pay for tax cuts for millionaires, billionaires and wealthy corporations.
Let’s be clear about Social Security and Medicare. They are not “entitlements.” Social Security and Medicare are earned benefits we pay into from our very first day on the job. No two government programs have done more over the years to lift tens of millions of Americans out of poverty, double the life span over just a few generations, and help build the greatest middle class the world has ever known.
That’s why I’ve introduced legislation to ensure NO CUTS to Social Security or Medicare. No cuts in any bill, resolution or conference report. And why I have joined 173 of my House colleagues and numerous members of the Senate in cosponsoring the Social Security 2100 Act to boost benefits and require those who earn $400,000 a year or more to pay a little more to keep the program solvent.
Republican Senate GOP Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and other GOP leaders have also been clear about their plans for Social Security and Medicare. They’re targeting drastic cuts to both programs. Why? Because they are desperate to find a way to pay for their $1.5 trillion tax cut – 80 percent of which goes to benefit millionaires, billionaires and wealthy corporations – and the $779 billion deficit they racked up in 2018 alone because the rich are paying less in taxes.
Senator McConnell has candidly admitted that after the midterm elections, he and other GOP leaders will try and sell these cuts based on the preposterously false notion that Social Security and Medicare are, in his words, “the real drivers” of the federal deficit.
Speaker Paul Ryan has gone even further, nonsensically terming Social Security and Medicare “giant entitlements” that threaten to “drive our federal government and national economy to collapse.”
As I have pointed out many times before, the real truth is that neither Social Security nor Medicare are in debt. Quite the opposite – the Social Security Trust Fund is carrying a surplus of roughly $2.8 trillion according to the auditors and accountants in charge. According to many credible studies, simply raising the cap on the amount of earnings subject to payroll taxes - currently $128,400 - by a modest amount would ensure the viability of Social Security for at least 75 more years.
And Medicare will remain solvent well into the 2030’s. So there’s plenty of time to fix what needs fixing in both programs – without cuts to benefits or resorting to risky Republican privatization schemes to turn Social Security over to Wall Street bankers and brokers, and Medicare over to the costly, for-profit health care insurance industry.
Here’s the bottom line. Social Security and Medicare belong to the American people. We cannot and must not permit these funds to be used to pay for tax cuts to millionaires, billionaires and wealthy corporations.
We will keep you posted as events proceed. Meanwhile, I want to hear your thoughts. Feel free to contact any of our offices listed below or send me an email.
The Social Security 2100 Act - This is What Protecting and Expanding Social Security Looks Like
Our old friend Steve Sack, Pulitzer Prize winning cartoonist for the Minneapolis Star Tribune, nailed GOP efforts to privatize Social Security way back in 2004. Our Social Security 2100 Act would expand benefits and ensure the integrity of the fund without a risky privatization scheme to turn Social Security over to billionaire Wall Street bankers.
As noted in the letter above, in response to the attack on Social Security being planned by the President and GOP leaders, I’ve joined 173 of my House colleagues and numerous others in the U.S. Senate in cosponsoring the Social Security 2100 Act. Here’s a quick summary of what our bill would accomplish:
The Social Security 2100 Act Expands Benefits
- Bumps up benefits for current and new beneficiaries – Provides a 2% increase for all beneficiaries.
- Protects against inflation – Improves the annual cost of living adjustment (COLA) formula to help seniors who spend a greater portion of their income on health care and other necessities.
- Protects low-income workers –The new minimum benefit will be set at 25% above the poverty line.
- Cuts taxes for beneficiaries – Over 10 million Social Security recipients would see a tax cut. Presently, your Social Security benefits are taxed if you have non-Social Security income exceeding $25,000 for an individual or $32,000 for couples. Our measure would raise that threshold to $50,000 and $100,000 respectively.
- Holds SSI, Medicaid, and CHIP Beneficiaries Harmless – Ensures that any increase in benefits from the bill do not result in a reduction in SSI benefits or loss of eligibility for Medicaid or CHIP.
The Social Security 2100 Act Strengthens the Trust Fund
- Millionaires and billionaires would pay the same rate as everyone else – Presently, payroll taxes are not collected on wages over $128,400. This legislation would apply the payroll tax to wages above $400,000. This provision would only affect the top 1% of wage earners - and ensure the viability of Social Security for many decades to come.
Minnesota Grants Key Permits for PolyMet Mining Project
More reason to be optimistic that PolyMet will bring hundreds of good-paying union jobs to northern Minnesota, advancing 21st Century mining, our nation’s “green” economy, and the battle against climate change and global warming
According to industry sources, every new wind turbine contains at least 335 tons of steel and 4.7 tons of copper. And America has one of the fastest growing markets for wind power in the world – about 30% of all global wind-based electricity is generated here in the U.S.A. Wind turbines like these dot the skyline across southern and western Minnesota.
After 14 years and the longest, most rigorous environmental review process in state history, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) issued several key permits last week to move PolyMet’s proposed NorthMet copper-nickel mining project forward in northern Minnesota.
For the last several years, my staff and I have been working behind the scenes to bring all the federal and state agencies involved together on a regular basis to keep the process moving. And now, the issuance of these permits gives us even more reason to be optimistic that PolyMet will bring hundreds of good-paying union jobs to northern Minnesota, advancing 21st Century mining, our nation’s “green” economy, and the battle against climate change and global warming.
For example, as I have pointed out many times before, new, clean, hybrid cars require more than a ton of iron, steel, copper, nickel, and nickel-based aluminum. Wind turbines, which reduce carbon-based air pollution and our dependency on fossil fuels, contain enormous amounts of copper and steel. And every computer, smart phone, iPad and printer contain precious minerals found in great abundance across Minnesota’s Iron Range.
The simple fact is, we have limited choices on how we get these strategic minerals. While we can recycle a certain percentage, the experts tell us recycling will never take the place of mining – not even by half.
So we are left with two options: Either import the lion’s share of our strategic minerals from foreign nations such as China and many poor developing countries, where environmental standards and worker protections barely exist. Or, we can mine them right here at home, where we control the process, create good-paying American jobs, and strictly adhere to the most rigorous environmental rules and regulations in the world.
In my judgment, the latter choice makes the most ethical, moral, and economic common sense. So I commend Governor Mark Dayton, the Minnesota DNR, PolyMet, and all the other state and federal agencies involved for their cooperation and hard work in moving this process forward.
President's Plan to Send 15,000 Troops to the Mexican Border Could Carry $110 Million Price Tag
A great many of the people traveling on foot toward the U.S. to seek legal asylum are women and children fleeing from violence in their native Honduras.
It would cost U.S. taxpayers up to $110 million for the President to carry out his announced plan to deploy 15,000 active-duty troops to the Mexican border in response to caravans of Central American migrants making their way northward toward the U.S.
That’s the word from the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, a highly regarded Washington, D.C. think tank specializing in defense policy analysis and planning. If the deployment lasts beyond mid-December, that $110 million figure would increase significantly as time goes on, the Center also reported.
Think about it. There are already roughly 23,000 federal enforcement officers on the border. Add to that 15,000 troops, and the number of military and enforcement personnel jumps to 38,000. If we assume that all 7,000 migrants will actually reach the U.S. border, which they won’t, we would have about five U.S. enforcement officers dedicated to stopping each and every man, women and child attempting to cross - including the majority who will seek asylum legally.
Quite frankly, that verges on insanity - a crazy and tragic waste of human resources.
Now consider what might also be done with $110 million. We could, for example:
- Triple funding for cancer research at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for 2019.
- Rebuild at least 10 of the 69 Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) schools assessed to be unsafe and in urgent need of replacement.
- Boost 2019 funding for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) by 33%.
- Reduce 44 million student loans by an average of 10% each.
- Buy 36 million school lunches for students in need.
And that’s just to name a few.
Obviously, we must protect and secure our border with Mexico. But the Administration has yet to make a convincing case to Congress or the American people that spending $110 million taxpayer dollars to deploy 15,000 troops is the best way to do it. These migrants, most of whom are fleeing from violence and poverty in Honduras and intending to seek legal asylum in the U.S., are still weeks away and traveling on foot. And at this point, they are unlikely to pose anything resembling a military threat to the Homeland.
Our Week in Duluth
Last week I met with several members of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Fund in Duluth where I learned more about the importance of supporting advocacy efforts in Congress for Type 1 Diabetes (T1D). I am proud to be a member of the Congressional Diabetes Caucus and will continue to support efforts to battle this terrible disease.
My wife, Mary, and I had a great time visiting with friends at the Duluth Area Chamber of Commerce Annual Dinner last night at the beautiful DECC - Duluth Entertainment and Convention Center. I was thrilled to listen to my good friend Al Hodnik, Minnesota Power ALLETE Company CEO, who was the keynote speaker. The Duluth Area Chamber of Commerce is a great resource and advocate for businesses and is doing their part to make Duluth’s economy even stronger.
Our Week in Mora
The East Central Housing Organization (ECHO) held their monthly meeting last week to address housing needs in the southern five counties of the 8th District. This month's meeting was held at the new MYSA House in Mora, which has 24 beautiful housing units. Nolan Congressional Field Representative Rick Olseen attended the meeting.
Our Week in Brainerd
The City of Brainerd and its Downtown Businesses celebrated the completion of the Business Highway 371/ South Sixth Street reconstruction project. The project improved the road surface, sidewalks, underground water and sewer utilities, and railroad crossing. In this picture, Brainerd Mayor Ed Menk cuts the ribbon. Nolan Field Representatives Tiffany Stenglein and John Schrader attended the event on my behalf.
Health care enrollment is NOW OPEN!
It's that time of year, health care enrollment for 2019 is now open in Minnesota. You can visit www.MNsure.org to sign up today.
Three important dates to remember:
- November 1st: open enrollment begins at 7am.
- December 15th: last day to enroll in coverage that begins January 1, 2019.
- January 13th: last day to enroll in coverage (unless you qualify for a ‘SEP’).