In a June 2013 special state election, then-U.S. Representative Edward J. Markey was elected to the U.S. Senate, filling the vacancy left by former-Sen. John Kerry, who became Secretary of State in February of 2013. Markey, a Massachusetts native who was born in Malden, was first elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1976; from there, he served 18 terms. We posed “3 Questions” to Sen. Markey about Social Security, the cost of prescription drugs, and what he’s doing to help jobless older Americans.
1. Do you believe Social Security should be excluded from a deficit discussion and addressed in a separate discussion? If so, why?
I will not support legislation that will reduce benefits in the Social Security program to reduce our federal budget deficit. Social Security should not be included in our deficit discussions because it is an earned income benefit. The revenue from Social Security comes from FICA payroll taxes, payments made by workers and their employers over a lifetime. According to the Social Security Administration, the Social Security Trust Fund has a surplus today of approximately $2.8 trillion. There is enough money to pay beneficiaries for the next two decades.
2. Do you support lowering the cost of prescription drugs? If so, which proposals do you support?
I supported the Affordable Care Act, which included an important new benefit to make seniors Medicare prescription drug coverage (Part D) more affordable by gradually closing the gap in drug coverage known as the “donut hole.” Since 2010, the 50 percent discount on brand name prescription drugs for those who hit the donut hole has saved 6.6 million seniors across the United States more than $7 billion.
I also support efforts to provide drug plans with greater authority to prevent fraud and abuse in Medicare Part D and to create safe pharmacy networks to dispense controlled substances to those beneficiaries at high-risk for abuse. This approach has the potential to save lives and eliminate billions of dollars in waste, fraud and abuse.
3. What proposals are you putting forth — or which existing legislation are you working on — to help unemployed older Americans (age 50+) return to employment, especially the so-called “long-term unemployed” (those unemployed for 6+ months)?
Our nation is still recovering from one of the deepest and the longest periods of economic difficulty since the Great Depression. As a result, we have seen a historically high percentage of workers who have been unemployed for more than six months. Unemployed workers with less than a high school education were more likely than unemployed workers with more education to have been out of work for at least six months.
To help grow the American economy still recovering from recession and address the widening skills gap separating thousands of unemployed workers from good-paying jobs, I support the Workforce Investment Act re-authorization which includes significant improvements to existing job training programs and local workforce systems originally authorized under WIA in 1998.
I have fought in support of public assistance programs for the long-term unemployed, including extending unemployment insurance, fully funding the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and have opposed efforts to cut the Medicaid program.
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