To Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler, Will you support the current Social Security retirement age, benefits, and Medicare to remain as per current regulations or strengthen them to meet cost of living needs for seniors and disabled persons?

To Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler, Will you support the current Social Security retirement age, benefits, and Medicare to remain as per current regulations or strengthen them to meet cost of living needs for seniors and disabled persons?

I read with interest Ms. Hartzler’s response to my Readers’ Mailbag item. Ms. Hartzler seems to be unaware of plans of others in her party to change benefits for those of us who currently receive Social Security and Medicare. I am referring specifically to highly publicized statements made by Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell. Mr. Luetkemeyer follows their lead and responded to my inquiries as if the only way to balance the budget is by reducing benefits for beneficiaries of Social Security. Some in the Republican Party have even spoken of Social Security and Medicare as “entitlement programs”. Each of us who receives these benefits has paid for them and, in the case of Medicare; we continue to pay for them. Besides the statements of Mr. Ryan and Mr. McConnell, House leadership has for the past few years introduced a budget plan that would slash billions from Medicare and Medicaid. The plan is to end traditional Medicare by privatizing it to benefit insurance companies. Ms. Hartzler is surely aware of this since she has been a member of the majority party in the House for several years.

I agree with Ms. Hartzler that we need a balanced budget. We need to cut spending countless millions on military planes that do not fly. We need to pay reasonable prices for items the military (and other government agencies) need instead of being gouged as per recent media reports. We need to assure that our country doesn’t invest trillions of dollars for weaponry when we have more than enough nuclear weapons to wipe all of us off the face of the earth. Money going to the military should go to the men and women who signed up to protect our country, not just for the latest, deadliest machines.

These are areas to research as we work to balance the budget.

Ms. Hartzler’s letter said the Balanced Budget Amendment won’t ‘steal’ from Social Security. Her letter says “money in the Social Security Trust fund that is not needed to pay current year benefits is invested in special Treasury bonds… allowing the trust fund to collect interest on otherwise unused funds.

These investments have added money to Social Security account while also infusing money into our Treasury as they issued the bonds.” Perhaps it is these funds going into the Treasury that will be used to pay taxes for the wealthiest Americans and for corporations who no longer pay a fair share of taxes. If the funds are generated by Social Security money being invested, why is any money earned being placed into the Treasury for anything besides Social Security? The wording may be vague but the plan and the threat to reduce Social Security and Medicare are real. It is not a “scare tactic”.

I agree with Ms. Hartzler that we must strengthen Social Security and Medicare to preserve and protect them. So, I ask you, Ms. Hartzler, “Are you in favor of balancing the budget through taking funds from Social Security and Medicare? Have you considered options like changing the cap on earnings so all employees who earn more than $250,000 annually pay Social Security on all their earnings?

What are you doing to assure there will be a serious bipartisan discussion to make sure these important programs remain as they were intended by the Democrat leadership who voted them into law? Why did you vote for a reduction of taxes on corporations and wealthy persons at the expense of your constituents? Was any thought given or any plan made as to how these tax cuts were to be paid for before the tax breaks were given?”

Again, citizens of Missouri, I urge you to vote for a change in elected representatives to save Social Security and Medicare from people who would use funds we paid into these programs to pay for tax breaks for the wealthy. A bill to balance the budget must be straight forward and explain where monies are to come from, not allow tax breaks to help the wealthy and then decide how to restore balance to the budget.

-Martha Driskel, Camdenton