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Florida Seniors: We Don't Trust Steve Southerland With Medicare and Social Security

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FDP Chair Smith joined Al Lawson and Florida Seniors for Roundtable Discussion in
Tallahassee This Morning 

TALLAHASSEE, FL — Florida Democratic Party Chairman Rod Smith joined congressional candidate for CD-2 Al Lawson and Florida seniors this morning for a roundtable discussion on protecting Social Security and Medicare and how Republicans like Steve Southerland have tried to end Medicare as we know it. According to the AARP, 84-percent of Florida Seniors received Social Security benefits and nearly 96-percent of older Florida seniors were enrolled in Medicare in 2011. Without these benefits, an additional 37-percent of older Floridians would fall into poverty.

Southerland voted twice for  budgets that ends Medicare as we know it and raise the cost of healthcare for Florida's seniors while continuing to provide tax breaks for millionaires and billionaires. 

"Medicare and Social Security are under attack by Republicans in Congress like Steve Southerland," said Florida Democratic Party Chairman Rod Smith. "Southerland voted to end Medicare as we know it and raise healthcare costs for Florida's seniors —  while voting at the same time to give tax breaks to the wealthiest few. Floridia's middle class families rely on these vital programs, which is why every Floridian needs to do all they can to make sure we send Al Lawson to Congress." 

"Northern Floridians deserve a leader who will work with both Republicans and Democrats to ensure that these vital programs are protected for our seniors today and for our children and grandchildren," said Al Lawson, candidate for Congress in congressional district 2. "Unfortunately, as I listened to the seniors from our community gathered here today, it's clear that Congressman Southerland is not looking out for the people of northern Florida. And while Southerland said he'd change Washington, it's clear from his actions that all he's done is gone Washington. I know how important Medicare and Social Security are to our families, which is why I've pledged to do all I can to protect and strengthen these vital programs." 

BACKGROUND

Congressman Steve Southerland Voted for Ryan Budgets That Ends Medicare As We Know It. Congressman Southerland voted for two budgets authored by Congressman Paul Ryan. The budgets would:

  • end Medicare’s guaranteed benefit;
  • the Congressional Budget Office estimated it will increase health care costs by an extra $6,359 by 2022 for future Medicare beneficiaries, while a household making between $50,000 and $100,000 would face a tax increase of at least $1,358;
  • protect $40 billion in tax breaks for big oil;
  • provide people earning more than $1 million a year with an average tax cut of $265,000;
  • create incentives for corporations to shift profits and jobs overseas. 

According to the Wall Street Journal, the budget would "essentially end medicare."  

[H Con. Res. 34, Vote #277, 4/15/11; H Con Res 112, Vote #151, 3/29/12; Center for American Progress, 3/20/12; Center for American Progress, 3/20/12; Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, 3/27/12; Tax Policy Center, Table T12-0078 and T10-0132; Citizens for Tax Justice, 3/22/12; Joint Economic Committee, 5/20/11; Joint Economic Committee, 6/20/12]

The Tampa Bay Times wrote that under the Southerland-Ryan budget the "Rich get richer." "House Republicans envision a country where Americans would be increasingly on their own to afford food and medical care even when they are elderly, disabled or poor. It also would be a nation with a tax code that tilts further toward benefiting corporations and the wealthy.…Floridians should be concerned about all these misplaced priorities, but Medicare and Medicaid are particularly at risk…Congressional Republicans want to exacerbate the nation’s yawning income inequality while making life harder for those at the bottom.” [Tampa Bay Times, 3/31/12]

Southerland Said $174,000 Salary “Not So Much.” “U.S. Rep. Steve Southerland told retirees Wednesday that serving in Congress is a great honor and privilege, but not cushy job with lavish insurance and pension benefits that many disgruntled taxpayers seem to think it is.  He said his $174,000 salary is not so much […] He added that ‘if you took the hours that I work and divided it into my pay,’ the $174,000 salary would not seem so high.” [Florida Capital News, 8/25/11

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