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Medicare and Social Security: The Fiscal Facts

The Sustainability of America’s Health and Retirement Security Programs
House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan – Opening Remarks, As Prepared For Delivery

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Washington, Jul 13, 2011 | comments

Welcome to today’s hearing focused on our critical health and retirement security programs – specifically Medicare and Social Security.

We welcome Rick Foster, Chief Actuary at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Rick remains among the nation’s foremost experts on health care policy, and we remain grateful for his nonpartisan analysis and for his returning to testify before this committee.  We are also fortunate to be joined by Stephen Goss, Chief Actuary for the Social Security Administration.  Like Rick, Stephen’s analysis provides policymakers with an indispensible guide to the structural need for reforms. I thank you both for taking time out of your schedules to join us today.

The failure of Washington to be honest about Medicare, Social Security, and the federal budget threatens the economic security of America’s seniors.  For too long, policymakers have avoided the critical question on how the social insurance strategies of the 20th century can deliver on their promise in the 21st century.

The House Budget Committee has devoted considerable energy to changing Washington’s culture of irresponsibility.  The American people deserve better than empty promises with respect to these important programs. Earlier this year, we proposed, debated and advanced a plan that helps fulfill the mission of health and retirement security for all Americans. Our budget charts a path to lift the crushing burden of debt, and to spur economic growth and job creation.  It has been a source of an urgently needed debate, along with an occasional distortion or two.

Both sides have engaged in the unfortunate weaponization of entitlement politics.  It is bad for our political discourse; it hinders efforts for bipartisan solutions; and most importantly it threatens the health and well-being of society’s most vulnerable. We need a clean break from the politics of the past, and that begins with a shared consensus on the facts.

Today’s hearing is an effort to unpack the fiscal facts on Medicare and Social Security – two critical programs that represent a solemn commitment to America’s seniors.  This is a commitment that cannot be kept unless reforms are made.

To help us get our arms around the magnitude of these two programs’ financial health, I can think of no better witnesses than the two nonpartisan experts testifying before this committee today.

Again, I thank you both for joining us today and look forward to your testimony. With that, I’d like to yield to Ranking Member Van Hollen for his opening statement.

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