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June 2015

Non-binding Republican Budget Bill Proposes Marked Changes in Medicare Costs and Coverage and Other Senior Safety Net Programs

Washington Watch


Check off “budget” on the Republicans “can govern” checklist. Congressional Republicans recently approved a budget bill, the first passed by Congress in six years, and the first since the party took control of both chambers earlier this year.


The non-binding document, however, does not go to President Obama for his signature. Instead, it helps guide Congress in framing how it wants to consider all of the government agency appropriations bills. It will also serve as a Republican fiscal policy guideline and sets the stage for the 2016 presidential elections.


The document, however, is certain to raise concerns from seniors and their advocates, as the GOP budget plan would slash spending on the social safety net – particularly Medicare and Medicaid – as well as education, infrastructure and other domestic programs by $5.3 trillion over 10 years with no tax increases. At the same time, it boosts defense spending next year by adding about $38 billion to an off-budget war operations account.


Just to be clear, most of the prescribed cuts will be ignored, as the new budget plan does not instruct congressional committees to implement them. Instead, the “reconciliation” instructions are focused on easing the way to repealing the Affordable Care Act.


Yes, the House and Senate Republican leaders are again planning to push to get rid of the ACA, known as Obamacare – this time with a new and powerful tool in their arsenal. Conservative Republicans intentionally avoided internal Republican feuds in the Senate in order to strengthen efforts to repeal the president’s health care initiative.


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Dad's Magical Bracelet

Senior Moments


During World War II my father served on the battle damage repair ship USS Ulysses. As a way to earn extra money, and I guess to pass any free time he had, he used to make bracelets for his fellow crewmates out of scrap deck plates from the various ships he worked on. When the war was over, he continued to make bracelets for family and friends. He made two bracelets for me, one when I was a young boy and one when I was older. The latter I have worn every day for almost 50 years.


My dad had many wonderful qualities, but the one that shone brightest was his love for children. At his wake, a young man who I knew from our old neighborhood came up to me and said, “I want to tell you a story about your father. You probably don’t remember, but when you and your friends played on your basketball court you wouldn’t let us little kids play with you. When you were finished, your dad would often come out and let us play on the court and he would actually play basketball with us. I will never forget that. He was an amazing man.”


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