Dallas, TX – A group of seniors rallied at Congressman Jeb Hensarling's Dallas office today. They had a simple message; cutting senior benefits won't fix the deficit. KERA's Courtney Collins reports.
"Mr. Garcia, I brought some more petitions and postcards for Mr. Hensarling."
Some two dozen members of the Texas Alliance for Retired Americans trooped up to Representative Jeb Hensarling's office to speak out against cuts to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.
Hensarling is co-chair of the congressional committee proposing how to cut the deficit. The seniors who showed up at his office are worried he'll support program cuts.
Witherspoon: "If they take social security away people will have to double up with their families. Nursing home people will probably die because they have no family to go to. Social Security is not the solution to the National Debt."
Leah Witherspoon lost her job at age 64 and says it's thanks to Medicare and Social Security that she's still independent. Now 65, it's difficult for her to find work.
Witherspoon: "I've had three or four interviews and they always say well what guarantee do I have that you'll stay?' And I say, what guarantee do you have that an 18 or 23 or 40 year-old is going to stay?"
The president of this group, Gene Lantz, says reducing senior benefits could spell disaster for the most vulnerable part of the population.
Lantz: "Social Security is the number one income for people over 65 in America. It's what keeps people out of poverty."
Representative Hensarling referenced Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security in a statement he released that said:
"All we have to do is slow their rate of growth if we want to solve our nation's structural debt crisis and ensure these programs are around for future generations."
Hensarling's statement didn't say how he would slow the growth of entitlement programs. Previously he's suggested changing Social Security that will affect those now under 55.
Senior activists say they'll continue to gather petitions and speak out against cuts. And they'll be carefully watching the committee's November 23rd proposals that will be sent to congress.
Congressman Hensarling's Statement (below):
"Our nation's health care and retirement programs are going broke while simultaneously starting to disserve their beneficiaries. Increasingly doctors are not seeing Medicare patients; we are seeing forms of rationing when it comes to access and quality. When it comes to Social Security, my children are due to put more money into the system than they take out. The rate of growth for these programs is unsustainable, but we do not have to cut one penny from these programs to save them. All we have to do is slow their rate of growth if we want to solve our nation's structural debt crisis and ensure these programs are around for future generations."