Millions of older Americans have worked hard and paid into earned benefits programs for decades. Protecting and strengthening Social Security and Medicare means fulfilling the promise our country has made to our elders. This is especially true now. The Trump administration’s 2020 budget proposal aims to cut hundreds of billions of dollars from Social Security and Medicare over the next ten years. That’s not right. Everyone deserves the dignity of a secure retirement.

Without Social Security benefits, almost 40% of seniors in the United States would have incomes below the poverty line. Even with Social Security, nearly 8% of seniors in Southwest Washington still live below the poverty line. We can begin to fix this problem by raising the tax cap for incomes over $250,000 a year. The extra revenue would extend the solvency of Social Security and allow benefits to keep up with cost of living.

Medicare remains a vital institution for many seniors, but pharmaceutical company price-gouging has made prescription drugs unaffordable for many. Medicare should be able to negotiate drug costs directly with drug manufacturers to lower drug prices for recipients. We can also help our seniors by expanding Medicare to reflect the realities of end-of-life care.

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