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Weekly remarks: Obama on Medicare, GOP Rep. Peter Roskam on the economy

August 7, 2010 |  3:00 am

President Obama

Weekly remarks by President Obama, as prepared by the White House:

Forty-five years ago, we made a solemn compact as a nation that senior citizens would not go without the health care they need.  This is the promise we made when Medicare was born.  And it’s the responsibility of each generation to keep that promise.

That’s why a report issued this week by the Trustees who oversee Medicare was such good news.  According to this report, 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.

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.

Seniors who fall into the “doughnut hole” – the gap in Medicare Part D drug coverage – are eligible right now for a $250 rebate to help cover the cost of their prescriptions.  Now, I know for people facing drug costs far higher than that, they need more help.  That’s why we negotiated a better deal...

with the pharmaceutical companies for seniors.  So starting next year, if you fall in the doughnut hole, you’ll get a 50-percent discount on the brand-name medicine you need.  And in the coming years, this law will close the doughnut hole completely once and for all.

Already, we have put insurance companies on notice that we have the authority to review and reject unreasonable rate increases for Medicare Advantage plans.  And we’ve made it clear to the insurers that we won’t hesitate to use this authority to protect seniors.

Beginning next year, preventive care – including annual physicals, wellness exams, and tests like mammograms – will be free for seniors as well.  That will make it easier for folks to stay healthy.  But it will also mean that doctors can catch things earlier, so treatment may be less invasive and less expensive.

And as reform ramps up in the coming years, we expect seniors to save an average of $200 per year in premiums and more than $200 each year in out of pocket costs, too.

This is possible in part through reforms that target waste and abuse and redirect those resources to where they’re supposed to go: our seniors.  We’re already on track to cut improper payments in half – including money that goes to criminals who steal taxpayer dollars by setting up insurance scams and other frauds.  And we won’t stop there.  Because by preventing the loss of these tax dollars, we can both address the runaway costs of Medicare and improve the quality of care seniors receive – and we can crack down on those who prey on seniors and take advantage of people.

So we are no longer accepting business as usual.  We’re making tough decisions to meet the challenges of our time.  And as a result, Medicare is stronger and more secure. That’s important.  Because Medicare isn’t just a program.  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. Thank you.    ####


Remarks by Rep. Peter Roskam (R-Ill.), as prepared by the Republican National Committee:

Hello, I’m Peter Roskam, and I work for the people of Illinois’ Sixth Congressional District.

Yesterday, Americans woke up to learn that our economy lost another 131,000 jobs in the month of July.  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. Businesses are afraid to invest in the economy when Washington continues to hand down mandates and tax increases that make it harder to succeed and to grow.

Unfortunately, instead of taking decisive action to provide small and medium sized businesses with the tax and regulatory relief they need to flourish and hire new workers, Speaker Pelosi and Democrat Leaders in Congress are coming back to Washington next week to double down on their ‘stimulus’ agenda that has led to fewer jobs and more debt.  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.

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.Peter Roskam

Back in Illinois and around the country, the situation has reached a boiling point.  Americans are asking ‘where are the jobs?’ and – forget about getting answers – they can’t even get President Obama and Washington Democrats to listen to their concerns.

Well, Republicans are listening.  This spring, we launched the America Speaking Out project to transform the way people interact with their elected representatives. 

Every day, whether it’s online or at town hall meetings, Americans are sharing ideas and engaging in a constructive dialogue about the future of our country. 

It’s time to put the American people back in the driver’s seat.  As the great Illinois President Abraham Lincoln once said, ours should be a government ‘of the people, by the people, and for the people.’

One of the best and most popular ideas on right now is stopping Washington Democrats’ job-killing tax hikes on families and small businesses.  At a time of serious economic challenges, massive new tax increases are a surefire way to stall growth and prevent businesses from creating jobs.

That’s because every dollar in new taxes owed is a dollar that can’t be used to pay current employees or hire new workers.  Hobbling the small businesses that are the backbone of our economy will further delay a robust recovery.  According to an analysis by the non-partisan Joint Committee on Taxation – that’s Congress’s official tax scorekeeper – half of all new taxes collected under President Obama’s plan would come from America’s small businesses.

Now, many economists agree that raising taxes on small businesses is the wrong approach.  Among them is Mark Zandi, a favorite economist of the Obama administration. Mr. Zandi wrote this week that ‘raising taxes on anyone now’ would be a ‘mistake.’

I served in the state Senate with President Obama, and I know that he has the ability to work across party lines when the moment demands it.  And after 18 months of spending sprees, backroom deals, and government takeovers, this is the moment.  We need a real economic agenda for growth and job creation, one that moves beyond partisan politics and puts our nation’s economic health front and center.

For bipartisan economic solutions that can help all Americans, I hope President Obama will take another look at the ‘no-cost jobs plan’ that House Republican leaders presented to him last December.  The no-cost jobs plan lays out several common-sense ideas that are designed to move us away from government ‘stimulus’ spending that hasn’t worked, and towards responsible policies that free up the nation’s entrepreneurs and job creators to create jobs.

Ultimately, the key to improving our nation’s struggling economy depends on the strength and innovation of America’s private sector.  By engaging the small and growing businesses that fuel our economy, we can get our country back on the right track.  That’s why Republicans are listening to the American people and offering better solutions to cut wasteful spending and get people working again.

Visit to learn more and to share your ideas.  We look forward to hearing your solutions.    ####

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Photos: Obama talking, Capitol; Roskam. Credit/Getty Images.