February 23, 2009

Progressive Leaders at White House Summit Today Underscore Need for Health Care Reform

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: February 23, 2009
CONTACT: Alan Barber, (202) 486-6180

Washington, D.C.– Campaign for America's Future co-director Roger Hickey, Center for Economic and Policy Research co-director Dean Baker, and Economic Policy Institute president Lawrence Mishel released the following joint statement after participating in President Obama's summit today on the nation's future financial health: 


We applaud President Obama for hosting the White House Fiscal Summit, which made clear that the key to the long term budget deficit is health care reform. We too understand that the issue is health care expenditures, not an "entitlement crisis."
CBO has projected that if health care spending, private as well as public, continues to rise at current rates, the nation will be spending 99 percent of GDP on those costs in just 75 years.  In sharp contrast, current projections indicate that Social Security will have a $5.5 trillion surplus by 2027 and will be able to pay all benefits promised under current law through 2041.
President Obama appropriately pledged during the campaign not to cut benefits, increase the retirement age, or privatize Social Security. At a time when Americans have lost $2 trillion in pension wealth and $6 trillion in home equity, there should be no attempts to scale back the programs millions depend on to survive.
We applaud the President's commitment to transparency.  Rather than a "fast track" process as some have advocated, Social Security reforms should be considered in the open, through the normal legislative process.
The root of the deficit problem is health care costs. Our leaders must get serious about improving our health care system. A concentrated effort by policy makers to control health care expenditures will help American business compete internationally and free resources for other pressing needs.
Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid assist the most vulnerable among us – the sick, the old, the disabled, the poor, the widowed, and the orphaned.   Some people seek to divide us by age in their attempts to gut or drastically change programs such as Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, warning of unsustainable transfers of money to programs for seniors.   Social Security serves and is fair to all generations.  Social Security and Medicare are successful today because policy makers of an earlier era understood that "we are all in it together." President Obama understands this as well.