Category Archives: Medicare

Congressman Frank Pallone’s Statement on Payroll Tax Cut, Unemployment Insurance and Medicare Doc Fix

WASHINGTON D.C.—On Friday, February 17, 2012, Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. spoke on the floor of the House of Representatives on the extension of the Payroll Tax Cut, Unemployment Insurance and Medicare doctor’s payment fix. The bill will continue vital programs that provide tax cuts averaging $1,000 for more that 160 millions Americans, extend unemployment insurance payments for those who are out of work through no fault of their own and ensure that doctors can continue to treat Medicare patients. While the extensions of the programs are critical, Congressman Pallone expressed his disappointment that the programs have been saved by cutting benefits to federal workers and payments to hospitals and nursing facilities.

The following is the statement Congressman Pallone delivered on the House Floor:

Thank you, M. Speaker. Today’s payroll tax conference agreement will provide $1,000 in the pockets of more than 160 million Americans and ensure that approximately 3.5 million Americans will continue to benefit from much needed unemployment insurance. We have also protected seniors’ ability to see their doctors with an SGR fix through the end of the year.

Despite these critical provisions, this is a difficult vote to take. I am greatly disappointed over how these extensions are offset. First, the unemployment extension is paid for on the backs of middle class Federal workers. These hardworking men and women continue to be targeted in this Congress – but yet they are not the reason for our nation’s deficits. Meanwhile, my Republican colleagues refuse to require the wealthiest few to pay their fair share.

Secondly, the SGR fix is being paid for with critical health care dollars. In fact, the bill slashes one of the most important investments this country has ever made in preventive health. That is extremely short-sighted. We cannot continue down that path or we will never address the real cost concerns of our health care system.

Sadly, the bill also manages to cut from one provider – hospitals and nursing homes – to help pay for another – physicians. We cannot rob Peter to pay Paul and our health care system cannot sustain further provider cuts. Meanwhile, there is still no permanent solution to an ongoing SGR problem that cannot continue to be kicked down the road again.

I will vote in favor of this bill, but I do so with grave reservations. Thank you.

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Filed under Congressman Frank Pallone, House Floor statement, Medicare, payroll tax, tax cuts, unemployment benefits

Pallone Urges New Jerseyans to Take Advantage of Convenient Satellite Office Locations

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: October 25, 2011



Washington, DC – Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. Tuesday urged constituents to take advantage of one of his seven New Jersey office locations regarding federal assistance on a variety of issues. Congressman Pallone and district staff work out of two permanent district offices in addition to five satellite offices with regular hours each month in order to be as accessible as possible to constituents.

“My staff and I are constantly working on better ways to reach out to constituents which is why there’s always a door open in one of my offices,” said Pallone. “I encourage constituents to take advantage of the services offered at all of my office locations.”

So far this year, Congressman Pallone has successfully secured over one million dollars on behalf of constituents in the form of disability back pay, social security payments, mortgage modifications, hurricane disaster aid and more.

Constituents who have issues with their Social Security benefits, federal pensions, Medicare eligibility, and U.S. citizenship are eligible for help. Additionally, Pallone and his staff frequently assist veterans to obtain back pay, GI Bill benefits, VA disability claims, as well as assistance to widows receive pensions that are owed to them. Staff can also be helpful in locating low-income housing options, and energy assistance and various other benefits or resources that may be beneficial.

The full contact information for all of Congressman Pallone’s constituent office locations appears below:

Long Branch New Brunswick
504 Broadway 67/69 Church Street
Long Branch, NJ 07740 New Brunswick, NJ 08901
732.571.1140 732.249.8892

Washington, D.C.
237 Cannon House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515
202.225.4671

Satellite Offices

Matawan Satellite Office
When: 1st Tuesday of each Month
Where: 201 Broad Street, Matawan, NJ 07747 (Council Chambers)
Time: 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Atlantic Highlands Satellite Office
When: 2nd Tuesday of each Month
Where: 100 First Avenue, Atlantic Highlands, NJ 07716 (Court Room in Borough Hall)
Time: 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Plainfield Satellite Office
When: 2nd Tuesday of each Month
Where: 515 Watchung Avenue, Plainfield, NJ (Library in Borough Hall)
Time: 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Hazlet Satellite Office
When: 3rd Tuesday of each Month
Where: 1776 Union Avenue, Hazlet, NJ 07730 (Cullen Center)
Time: 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Manalapan Satellite Office
When: 4th Tuesday of each Month
Where: Amberly Drive, Manalapan, NJ 07726 (Covered Bridge Clubhouse)
Time: 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

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Filed under Congressman Frank Pallone, GI Bill Benefits, Medicare, press release, satellite offices, Social Security, VA disability

What If Everyone Saw This Clip Of Robert Reich Exposing 7 GOP Lies?

Robert Reich reveals the 7 biggest lies about the economy.

Stay informed my friends.

from Moveon.org

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Filed under 7 lies, deficit reduction, economic growth, Medicare, MoveOn.org, Robert Reich, Social Security, tax cuts

If US is Serious About Debt, There’s a Single-Payer Solution

St. Louis Post-Dispatch Editorial

August 14th, 2011

If America truly is serious about dealing with its deficit problems, there’s a fairly simple solution. But you’re probably not going to like it: Enact a single-payer health care plan.

See, we told you weren’t going to like it.

But the fact is that everyone who has studied the deficit problem has agreed that it’s actually a health care problem — more specifically, the cost of providing Medicare benefits to an aging and longer-living population. The bipartisan National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform reported last December: “The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) projects if we continue on our current course, deficits will remain high throughout the rest of this decade and beyond, and debt will spiral ever higher, reaching 90 percent of GDP in 2020.

“Over the long run, as the baby boomers retire and health care costs continue to grow, the situation will become far worse. By 2025 revenue will be able to finance only interest payments, Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security. Every other federal government activity — from national defense and homeland security to transportation and energy — will have to be paid for with borrowed money.”

That being the case — and nobody argues that it isn’t — there are two broad ways for the government to address its spiraling health care costs. One, shift more of those costs to recipients, by trimming benefits and/or extending eligibility ages and indexing eligibility to personal income. This is politically unpalatable, particularly to most Democrats, President Barack Obama being a conspicuous exception.

The second way for government to address its health costs is not to shift them, but to reduce them. This is what a single-payer health care system would do, largely by taking the for-profit players (insurance companies for the most part) out of the loop.

The advocacy group Physicians for a National Health Program estimates that “private insurance bureaucracy and paperwork consume one-third (31 percent) of every health care dollar. Streamlining payment through a single nonprofit payer would save more than $400 billion per year, enough to provide comprehensive, high-quality coverage for all Americans.”

Once everyone is covered, the government would have the clout to bring discipline into the wild west of health care spending. It could insist that providers be paid for quality of service, not quantity. Health facilities and equipment could be managed by regional boards. Medical services could be “bundled” — rather than paying hospitals and doctors and laboratories separately, there would be fixed prices for treatments. And so on.

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act passed in 2009 contains many pilot programs designed to test cost-reduction strategies. Most of them won’t kick in for another six to eight years, by which time health care costs will be approaching 20 percent of U.S. gross domestic product. The combined state and federal share of that will be 49 percent, up from 45 percent today.

Indeed, a study published this month in the journal Health Affairs estimates that while the Affordable Care Act will pay for itself by 2020, it won’t actually “bend the cost curve,” as the Obama administration had hoped. But the study, done by the Actuary Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, says the ACA will significantly slow the rise of health care costs to state and local governments.

But consider those two findings: In effect, they say that if reducing overall health care costs is the goal, then the ACA didn’t go far enough. Thirty million more people will be insured and government costs will grow more slowly. But overall health care costs will continue to explode.

Sooner or later, a nation serious about controlling spending must take broad control of the health care system.

It surely won’t be sooner. Compared to the political fight that would erupt over a single-payer plan, the congressional battle over the Affordable Care Act would seem as tame as resolution praising mom, the flag and apple pie.

The ACA was a compromise. Mr. Obama brought everyone to the table — doctors, insurance companies, drug companies, hospitals — and came away with a “best we can get” kind of bill. Many of those at the table turned around and lobbied against it or sought special favors once the bill came before Congress.

It passed by narrow margins, and Congress is decidedly more conservative now. Indeed, the new House majority has voted to repeal the ACA and challenges to its constitutionality continue to work their way toward the Supreme Court.

But now, like a baby discovering its toes, Congress has discovered the deficit. And the plain fact is that unless you want to commit political suicide and cut Medicare to the bone — as Rep. Paul Ryan’s, R-Wis., budget plan would do — the best way to seriously address long-term deficits is to get control of health care costs through a single-payer plan.

In 2008, when health care costs amounted to “only” 16 percent of U.S. gross domestic product, Great Britain was spending 8.7 percent of its GDP on health care, and Canada was spending 10.4 percent. Both nations have single-payer plans. Quality of care scores in both nations are at least comparable, and in most cases, better.

Eventually, the United States will have a single-payer plan. But we’ll waste a lot of money and time getting there.

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Filed under America’s Affordable Health Choices Act, baby boomers, Congressional Budget Office, GDP, health care reform, Medicaid, Medicare, single-payer system, Social Security, St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Rush Holt; The Debt Ceiling Downer

For the moment we have put the debt crisis behind us. That is small comfort as the economy at large, the job situation, the housing market, and the financial markets continue to suffer. The Tea Party in Congress and its enablers should never have been allowed to threaten America’s good name in order to advance their view of a diminished government and trickle-down economics. They should never have been allowed to force a closed-door, hurried revision of our entire economy. And they certainly should never have been able to get away with a deal that increases inequities in our society and our economy. You, like most Americans, may have watched in dismay—or even in disgust—as Washington fumbled the self-imposed crisis.

Putting aside the distasteful process and the worrisome prospect that government by hostage-taking will continue, this week I had to face the immediate questions: Was the resulting deal going to help the economy? Would it create jobs? Would it reduce the crippling inequities in our economy and society? Would it bring down the deficit, as was the ostensible goal? On all counts my answer was “No,” and I voted against the resolution on the House floor.

I am pleased that we as a country are paying our debts, but I lament the damage done to the institutions of government and the good name of the United States as the most reliable, most creditworthy entity in the entire financial world. I lament especially the damage done to our view of ourselves. The negotiations were based on Tea Party premises: that our deficit is the principal concern facing us, that America is a pitiful debtor nation, that we must lower our sights, that we must end the quest to free our people from want and inequalities, that we cannot afford any longer to be the nation conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all are created equal. Are we no longer the America of the 1940’s that paid for millions of GI’s to go to college and buy homes, while rebuilding ourselves and Europe, when we were faced with a national debt much greater than today?

The deal this week may have the beneficial effect of showing that in the long run the United States intends to bring expenditures more in line with revenues. In the short term, though, the deal is a downer. It not only avoids dealing with today’s principal needs—job creation and economic growth—it actually will cost jobs and preclude any economic stimulation. At a time when clearly the economy is shaky, it is a mistake to declare, as the deal effectively does, that the federal government will have no direct hand in getting the economy moving. To meet next year’s target of spending reductions will require cuts equivalent to the budgets of all the following government operations combined: the EPA, the National Park Service, the Small Business Administration, FEMA emergency and firefighter grants, and the Women-Infants-and-Children food grants. In subsequent years, the cuts would be even ten times larger. Why should we rally to the cry, “No, We Can’t?” Have we forgotten that barely a decade ago we paid down the deficit with strong economic growth, job creation, and budgetary discipline without resorting to gimmicks, triggers, or Balanced Budget Amendments?

I would have liked to vote on a plan that protected the major functions granted to Congress under the Constitution rather than turning them over to an undemocratic, isolated committee of twelve. I would have liked to vote on a plan that would have accelerated withdrawal from Iraq and Afghanistan, saving lives and dollars, and that would have produced savings in our healthcare costs and dealt with the looming loss of 30 percent of doctors’ reimbursement under Medicare. Instead, the plan that was presented was negotiated on the turf of the Tea Party, which seems to think that it is anti-capitalist to ask those individuals and companies doing well in this economy to bear some of the load, even though the one or two percent of people with the highest income have seen their income grow by about 25 percent while everyone else has seen an effective decline and America’s largest corporations have reaped immense profits by using loopholes and offshore tax havens to avoid paying taxes.

Nevertheless, I am making it my job to beat back the pessimistic view in Washington that gave rise to this deal. We must not let this deal be the chart of our country’s future course. It is based on false premises that fail to recognize the inherent fairness that is characteristic of our people, the ingenuity and entrepreneurial energy that have sparked our economy for generations, and the unshakable American meliorism that says we can and must make life better for each succeeding generation. I think that now, more than ever, we must have a realistic view of our situation so that we can strongly defend equality and build a community that reinforces the opportunities for each individual.

Sincerely,

RUSH HOLT
Member of Congress

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Filed under Afghanistan, Congress, Congressman Rush Holt, debt ceiling, economy, EPA, Iraq, Medicare, National Park Service, Tea Party

President Obama’s Weekly Address 7/30/11: Acting Responsibly on Behalf of the American People

WASHINGTON—In this week’s address, President Obama urged both Republicans and Democrats to take action to avoid defaulting for the first time in our nation’s history. While the two parties are not far apart in their goals, they must resolve their differences quickly so that the United States can continue paying its Social Security checks, veterans’ benefits, and contracts with thousands of American businesses. The time has come to stop endangering the Triple A bond rating of the United States, put aside partisan politics, and behave responsibly to ensure a balanced approach to reducing our nation’s deficit.

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Filed under benefit checks, compromise, Congress, debt ceiling, default, economy, higher interest rates, Medicare, national debt, President Obama, Social Security, Triple A bond rating, Verterans, weekly address

Congressman Rush Holt; "The Latest News On the Debt Ceiling"

Americans are rightly disgusted by the news from Washington. If Congress and the President fail to act within days, or maybe just hours, the United States could be in the unprecedented position of defaulting on our obligations. In essence, the President would be required by law to conduct programs – including Medicare, Social Security, and the national defense – that, by law, he could not pay for.

What would happen next? Interest rates would rise, sending shockwaves through the economy. Home loans, car loans, and student loans would become far more expensive. Businesses, already finding credit unavailable, would have a harder time meeting payroll. The dollar’s status as the world’s most trusted currency would be threatened. And our credibility in the world markets would vanish. Surely, more layoffs, lower pay, and reduced economic activity would result.

This is an unnecessary, artificial crisis. It is not the result of a natural disaster or terrorist attack. It is solely the result of Republicans in Congress holding America hostage. They are threatening a crisis unless Congress enacts their extreme, ideological agenda – an agenda that demands hundreds of billions of dollars in cuts to Medicare and Social Security, all while protecting tax loopholes for oil companies, corporate jet owners, and billionaires.

What is especially troubling is Congress has now wasted weeks in these hostage negotiations instead of doing the real, difficult work required in this economy: putting people back to work. Solving the jobs crisis would do far more to reduce our nation’s deficit than any plan now pending in Congress. In fact, the long-term deficit would improve dramatically if we simply ended the Bush tax cuts for the very wealthy and Big Oil. Removing the Bush tax cuts would do more to reduce the deficit than Speaker Boehner’s bill.

To those who insist that, by refusing to allow America to pay its bills, they can teach the nation a lesson, I ask this question: would you teach yourself a lesson by refusing to pay your credit card bill?

The moment has long since passed to end this self-induced crisis. Let’s raise the debt limit and move on to the real work of rebuilding the American economy.
Sincerely,

Rush Holt

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Filed under Congressional Republicans, Congressman Rush Holt, corporate tax breaks, debt limit, economy, Medicaid, Medicare, national debt, national defense

Cut, Cap and Balance: The Wrong Approach to Deficit Reduction

The following was posted this morning at the White House blog by Jason Furman, Principal Deputy Director of the National Economic Council.

The blog post in response to all the rhetoric being thrown around by the ultra conservative right-wingers and TEA praters, who have taken control of the Republican Party and are risking our country’s economic future and well being over the debate about raising the national debt limit.

These people are pushing for a proposal called “Cut, Cap and Balance” which is legislation that would cut $111 billion out of the budget immediately, cap spending to a percent of the Gross Domestic Product, and send a Balanced Budget Amendment to the states in return for increasing the $14.294 trillion debt ceiling.

On so many levels this proposal is wrong and could lead to a worsening of the economy and handicap future Congresses and Presidents ability to deal with a fiscal and economic crisis.

“Cut, Cap and Balance” is not the answer to our current troubles in this country, fixing the economy and putting people back to work is with sound fiscal policy that has proven in the past to work.

Democrats and Republicans agree that getting our fiscal house in order is one of the critical challenges facing America. To address it we are going to have to make tough choices, bringing to the table a commitment to examine every area of the budget and every loophole in the tax code without presumptively taking any of the options off the table. But it is critical that we not bring down our deficits and debt at the expense of economic growth, innovation and job creation, or place the greatest burden on older Americans and the most vulnerable. That is precisely what the House’s Cut, Cap and Balance plan would do – a proposal that White House Press Secretary Jay Carney described as “duck, dodge and dismantle.”

The House plan fails to achieve a balanced plan to reduce the deficit, which is precisely the approach that has worked successfully in America in the past and has recently been recommended by a number of different fiscal commissions.

Let’s start with the “cut” and “cap” portions of the bill. These sections require spending cuts in 2012 and caps over the next decade identical to those in the House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan’s plan., By House Republicans’ own design, achieving those spending levels would require cuts that would be harmful to the economic recovery in the short-term while also damaging our long-term competitiveness and placing a higher burden on seniors and the most vulnerable. To give a few examples:

  • The bill would abruptly cut more than $100 billion in spending in the first year alone, a step that Congressional Budget Office Director Doug Elmendorf stated would “affect our projections for GDP growth over the next two years.”
  • The House Budget Resolution plan would cut clean energy investments by 70 percent, infrastructure investments by a third, and education and training by 25 percent – cutting 320,000 children from Head Start and reducing aid for families trying to put their kids through college by hundreds, or even thousands of dollars.
  • It would cut Medicaid by one-third over the decade, and by nearly 50% by 2030. This could, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation, result in 36 million people losing Medicaid coverage, including people with disabilities and seniors in nursing homes. And that comes on top of the 17 million who would lose coverage due to repealing subsidies in the Affordable Care Act.
  • And it would cut programs for the most vulnerable – for example, by food stamp benefits for a family of four by $1,760 per year or cut 8 million households from the program.
  • Finally, the House Budget Resolution proposed to convert Medicare to a voucher program, increasing costs for Medicare beneficiaries by $6,400 a year beginning in 2021 – with those higher costs increasing over time.

But “Cut, Cap and Balance” doesn’t stop there. It also includes a requirement that to secure an increase in the debt limit necessary to avoid default – and a devastating impact on families and businesses – Congress must pass a constitutional amendment requiring a balanced budget. Moreover, it is an extreme version of a constitutional amendment that would cap government spending and require a two-thirds supermajority to cut tax loopholes or take other steps on revenue. The President has frequently made clear why he thinks a Balanced Budget Amendment is a misguided effort to absolve leaders in Washington of their responsibility for making tough choices. But it is important to understand what this requirement means when added on top of the cuts in the House Budget Resolution.

To start with, consider that at the end of the next decade, the House plan would still be $400 billion a year short of achieving a balanced budget. Unless Republicans are willing to entertain $3 to $4 trillion in additional revenues over the next decade, that means $400 billion a year would need to be cut beyond the House Budget Resolution.

And when you’ve already made such deep cuts to discretionary spending, Medicaid and other programs, it becomes difficult to imagine any credible ways to achieve those spending levels without including Social Security in the reductions and making substantially deeper reductions in Medicare.

So if the required spending cut were across the board, it would mean all programs, including Social Security and Medicare, would be cut by 10 percent by the end of the decade on top of the House Budget Resolution.If defense spending alone were exempted, it would mean that all other programs (again including Social Security and Medicare) would be cut by about 12 percent by the end of the decade on top of the House Budget Resolution. It would be possible to avoid cuts of this magnitude, but that would require dramatically deeper reductions than the one-third cut in Medicaid and infrastructure currently proposed in the House Budget Resolution.

We obviously don’t agree with this approach. The President has proposed a comprehensive approach that ensures we live within our means and reduces the deficit by $4 trillion, while supporting economic growth and long-term job creation, protecting critical investments, and meeting the commitments made to provide economic security to Americans no matter their circumstances. We want to make significant cuts to government spending, including additional savings that come from further strengthening critical programs like Medicare, while protecting the recovery, strengthening the middle class and making the investments that will promote economic growth so folks feel confident in their futures and their children’s futures.

Representatives from both parties will continue to talk about reaching the largest deal possible. The President is pushing everyone to come to the table, put politics aside, work through our differences and prove to the American people that we can still do big and difficult, but necessary things.

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Filed under balanced budget amendment, cap cut and balance, Congressional Republicans, debt ceiling, default, economy, higher interest rates, Medicaid, Medicare, President Obama, Social Security, tax loopholes

Rush Holt: New Evidence Could Shape The Health Care Debate

By Congressman Rush Holt (D-NJ 12)

I’ve always believed that the health care debate should be based on evidence, not ideology or demagoguery. Last week, the debate gained important new evidence thanks to an unprecedented study from Oregon.

In 2008, Oregon policymakers wanted to expand the state’s Medicaid program, but they lacked the funding needed to cover all 90,000 applicants. They decided that the fairest way to distribute their limited funds was through a lottery.

When researchers compared the 10,000 individuals who “won” the health care lottery to those who lost, they found dramatic differences in outcomes between these well-matched populations. Individuals covered by Medicaid were 35 percent more likely to see a doctor. They also felt better: they were more likely to rate their health as good or excellent and less likely to say that their health had deteriorated over the previous year.

Would you be surprised to learn that insurance coverage improved not only people’s physical health but also their financial well-being? People covered by Medicaid were 25 percent less likely to have an unpaid bill go to collection, and they were 40 percent less likely to borrow money or skip a bill payment because of medical expenses.

Although Oregon’s method of handling its budget limitations was novel, it dramatized an everyday phenomenon: a health care “lottery” in which some people gain health coverage while others are left to fend for themselves. Two similar Americans who work equally hard and are equally deserving of good health may experience very different outcomes, based only on chance factors: whether they live in a city with a strong job market, whether their employer provides health insurance, or whether their state supports its low-income workers through Medicaid.

Right now, 50 million Americans – including 8 million children – are losing the health care lottery. They are suffering all of the ills that the Oregon study revealed: poorer health, poorer access to doctors, and poorer financial security.

That situation is improving as the new Affordable Care law takes effect and helps 33 million Americans gain access to health insurance. Policymakers now have hard evidence to support what many of us argued when we enacted that law: insured Americans live healthier, happier, and more secure lives.

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Filed under Congressman Rush Holt, health care debate, Medicaid, Medicare, Newsletter, Oregon study, The Affordable Care Act

President Obama’s Weekly Address 7/9/11: Working Together to Meet our Fiscal Challenges

WASHINGTON – In this week’s address, President Obama called on both parties to come together during this unique moment to find a significant, balanced approach to deficit reduction that lets us live within our means without hurting investments our economy needs to grow and create jobs. The President believes the American people deserve to have their leaders work in a bipartisan way to find common ground to tackle our fiscal challenges so we can be in a stronger position to focus on new job-creation measures to get the American people back to work.

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Filed under Congress, corporate taxes, debt limit, economic recovery, Education, Job creation, Medicare, Middle Class, President Obama, Social Security, tax breaks for the rich, weekly address