Photo by George Lauby
Photo by George Lauby
Neither political party really wants to hear from him, Bob Kerrey said Wednesday as he talked about the federal budget.
Kerrey said Social Security and Medicare are the biggest budget problems, and lots of politicians are to blame.
“The biggest problem in our biggest budget problem – the growing cost of Federal retirement programs – was not caused by the Republicans. It wasn’t caused by the Democrats either,” he said.
“No, it was caused by politicians of both parties promising more and more generous benefits to voters over the age of 65 in an effort to win their support at election time,” he said.
Kerrey has proposed changes to save Social Security and prolong Medicare. He criticized candidates who don’t, including President Barack Obama and vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan.
He said both of them ignored the Simpson-Bowles plan to cut the debt.
“Unfortunately…Ryan, who was a member of the commission, voted against its recommendations. Worse, President Obama chose not to include the recommendations in his State of the Union address.” Kerrey said. “In short order the window of opportunity closed and our political leaders returned to form: Blaming the others for not caring enough about America’s seniors."
Then Kerrey took aim at his opponent, Deb Fischer.
She "has chosen the traditional approach of telling the audience what they want to hear," he said.
“At the State Fair debate, she said she favored repealing a $730 billion reduction in the increase in Medicare spending,” Kerrey said. “And, she said that no one over the age of 40 should have to pay more or take less.”
Kerrey said that “takes pandering to a new low.”
Fischer favors no new taxes and a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution that would cap federal spending at 18% of the nation’s gross domestic product, Kerrey said.
Kerrey said spending at 18 percent of GDP would:
• Cut every program by 36.6 percent by 2030, assuming defense cuts were off the table.
• Require a $539.8 billion cut to Social Security, a $458.8 billion cut to Medicare, a $296.9 billion cut to Medicaid, and $278.9 billion cut for all other non-defense programs.
• The cut to each Social Security beneficiary, using 2030 enrollment numbers, would be $6,228. The cut to Medicare beneficiaries using the 2030 enrollment figures would be $5,665.
If 2030 seems like a ways off, he said the 2014 calculations show a $247.4 billion cut to Social Security -- a $4,344 cut per enrollee. For Medicare, it would be a $175.5 billion cut -- a $3,461 cut per enrollee, he said.
“Simply put, State Senator Deb Fischer can promise to protect Medicare and Social Security but the numbers don't add up. Fischer either doesn't realize this or she is deceiving,” he said.
“Her message to those under age 40 is if you think your lives are difficult now, just wait another 18 years because it is going to get worse,” he said.