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Obama Cites Medicare Success; Roskam Assails Spending

President Barack Obama used his weekly address Saturday to recognize the 45-year anniversary of Medicare and proclaim that reforms he has championed are ensuring the solvency of the program.

Republican Rep. Peter Roskam (Ill.) responded that the administration is crushing the economy with tax increases and large spending initiatives.

Obama cited a report from the Medicare trustees as proof that “the steps we took this year to reform the health care system have put Medicare on a sounder financial footing. Reform has actually added at least a dozen years to the solvency of Medicare — the single longest extension in history — while helping to preserve Medicare for generations to come.”

The president added, “We’ve made Medicare more solvent by going after waste, fraud, and abuse — not by changing seniors’ guaranteed benefits. In fact, seniors are starting to see that because of health reform, their benefits are getting better all the time,” including better coverage for prescription drugs and preventive care.

“Medicare isn’t just a program,” Obama concluded. “It’s a commitment to America’s seniors – that after working your whole life, you’ve earned the security of quality health care you can afford. As long as I am president, that’s a commitment this country is going to keep.”

But Roskam used the Republican address to skewer Obama and Democrats for racking up huge debts while employment continues to flounder.

“Yesterday, Americans woke up to learn that our economy lost another 131,000 jobs in the month of July,” Roskam said. “Here in the president’s home state of Illinois, where the unemployment rate is well over 10 percent, families are wondering why Washington is spending money we don’t have and piling up a mountain of debt only to have the economy sputter and job losses continue.”

Roskam criticized Speaker Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) and House Democrats for planning to return to Washington next week to pass a $26 billion package of aid to states to prevent teacher layoffs and cover Medicare costs.

“This latest round of ‘stimulus’ spending comes in the form of a political season payoff to union bosses, and even worse, it’ll be financed with a job-killing tax hike on America’s job-creators,” Roskam said.

“Under Democratic Leaders in Congress spending has gotten completely out of control. It reminds me of when Mom and Dad go away for the weekend. The teenagers say, ‘Leave us home alone, we’re responsible, what can go wrong?’ Except Mom and Dad come home a day early only to find the house is trashed, the police are parked outside and everything is a mess. At this outrageous rate of spending, the Obama Administration and Congress are on track to triple the national debt over the next 10 years.”

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