Saturday, August 23, 2014

Medicare program ‘run amuck’, congresswoman says

By BOBBY BURCH, Herald Staff Writer | 8/28/2013

So-called “autopilot” federal spending on programs like Social Security and Medicare is adding to the United States’ already “crushing” amount of debt, Congresswoman Lynn Jenkins said Wednesday in Ottawa.

Jenkins, who in 2008 was elected to serve Kansas’ 2nd Congressional District, laid blame on the federal government’s out-of-control spending measures, which have burdened businesses and citizens.

So-called “autopilot” federal spending on programs like Social Security and Medicare is adding to the United States’ already “crushing” amount of debt, Congresswoman Lynn Jenkins said Wednesday in Ottawa.

Jenkins, who in 2008 was elected to serve Kansas’ 2nd Congressional District, laid blame on the federal government’s out-of-control spending measures, which have burdened businesses and citizens.

“Medicare is the poster child of a federal program run amuck,” Jenkins said. “Medicare is the largest driver of our debt. We have 10,000 Americans everyday hitting retirement age. People on average take out of Medicare three times more than what they put in. How long do you think we can sustain a program like that? ... Over time, the federal government has grabbed so much power and authority from we Americans that it’s time to give that back. Give back to the people what we should be doing for ourselves and our families — some personal responsibility.”

Addressing about 100 people during an Ottawa Area Chamber of Commerce membership breakfast, Jenkins reviewed federal financial information from the Congressional Budget Office. Federal debt held by the public currently exceeds 70 percent of the nation’s gross domestic product, a level of which has not been recorded since 1950, according to the Congressional Budget Office. In the last four decades, the public has held on average 39 percent of GDP, the budget office reported in May.

And without budgetary cuts to certain programs — namely Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security — Jenkins said, that percentage likely will not change.

“What’s driving the spending upward is the autopilot spending programs and typically we don’t talk about those things because history proves if you talk about those things your member of Congress will get fired for bringing it up,” Jenkins, 50, said. “You can’t run your business like this, you can’t run your personal finances like this, so I cant’ find many Americans — if any — that believe the federal government should operate like this.”

To alleviate the debt, Jenkins said the U.S. House of Representatives has submitted a 10-year plan to balance the budget. The plan, called “The Path to Prosperity,” would reform such welfare programs as Medicaid, in addition to amending the nation’s tax code, which Jenkins said would create jobs and increase wages. Jenkins added that the House’s plan would institute reform to close tax code loopholes while shifting to a fairer, flatter rate for Americans.  

“How do we get there? We just stop spending money on things the federal government shouldn’t be spending on, and return to the states what they should have had jurisdiction over,” Jenkins said. “The [House’s] tax code helps fix the revenue side of things, but more importantly it gives the economy the boost it needs to put more money in your pocket.”

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