Posted in: Kids Not Cuts
President Obama stands strong for vital social safety net services in inaugural remarks
by Félix Pérez
President Barack Obama, addressing more than 1 million people gathered in the nation’s capital Monday, offered a full-throated defense of the nation’s most successful social safety net programs, Medicaid, Social Security and Medicare, which have lifted millions of elderly, children and families out of poverty and provided essential access to medical care.
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President Obama’s emphasis of the three programs in his inaugural remarks is telling in light of the high-stakes debate raging in Congress about how to address the nation’s budget crisis.
We do not believe that in this country freedom is reserved for the lucky, or happiness for the few. We recognize that no matter how responsibly we live our lives, any one of us at any time may face a job loss, or a sudden illness, or a home swept away in a terrible storm. The commitments we make to each other through Medicare and Medicaid and Social Security, these things do not sap our initiative, they strengthen us. They do not make us a nation of takers; they free us to take the risks that make this country great, said President Obama, addressing the nation from the steps of the U.S. Capitol.
The president has steadfastly argued for a “balanced approach” that takes into account the sacrifices already made by middle class families and calls for the wealthiest individuals to pay their fair share. Congressional Republican leaders, on the other hand, have fought to preserve tax breaks for the wealthy and corporations while demanding deep cuts to education, medical care, public safety, medical research, environmental protection and other services upon which families, students, seniors, persons with disabilities and everyday Americans rely.
Making deep, across-the-board cuts to the nation’s primary social safety net programs would result in dire consequences.
- Provides medical care to 32 million children nationwide, approximately 15 percent of whom have special health care needs
- Is the single largest health insurer for poor children
- Is the primary source of medical care for persons with disabilities
- Provides medical care to 50 million seniors 65 years of age and older, half of whom have annual incomes below $22,000
- One out every four Medicare beneficiaries has a mental disability
- Two million beneficiaries live in long-term care facilities
- 1.27 million blind and disabled children receive benefits
- 3.4 million children and young adults 19 years of age and younger receive benefits
- 39.1 million individuals aged 65 or older receive benefits
- 12.4 million individuals with disabilities receive benefits