Montana’s junior senator, Democrat Jon Tester, said in a telephone town hall meeting Wednesday that while the deficit reduction committee and all members of Congress have a lot of work to do in reducing the federal debt, he does not want cuts to current Medicare or Social Security benefits to be part of that.
“I know how important Social Security and Medicare are for all of us …, ” he said during a meeting sponsored by AARP Montana. “I don’t support any cuts to your benefits. ”
During the meeting, close to 20 Montanans expressed concerns about the chances of their benefits being cut, and asked Tester and AARP representatives about issues affecting the national debt and the Medicare and Social Security programs.
Tester said the deficit reduction committee, which includes Montana Sen. Max Baucus, is working to get the deficit under control and start growing the economy. He said he will look at the proposal the committee is charged with creating by Nov. 23 to see if he thinks it is the right fit for Montana and the nation.
“I will make sure the program works for Montana and for Montana seniors, ” Tester said.
Tester said people need to remember that the people who receive Medicare and Social Security have paid for their benefits through payroll taxes at their jobs.
“If you don’t work, you don’t get it, ” he said.
Tester said that, while earlier in the year people saw proposals in Congress that would have cut Medicare and Social Security, with some calling the programs scams and ponzi schemes, he is confident the deficit reductions can and will be made without cuts to the programs.
“I’m going to do my level best, personally and politically, to make sure that doesn’t happen. Personally, I believe that won’t happen, ” he said. “People in both parties understand how important Medicare and Social Security are. It is a safety net.
“We do have to get the budget and the deficit under control, make no mistake about that, but we don’t have to reduce your benefits to do that, ” Tester added.