U.S. Senator Ron Wyden – New Senate Republican Tax Bill Medicare Cuts


U.S. Senator Ron Wyden
November 15, 2017

Washington, D.C. – Senate Finance Committee Ranking Member Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., today gave the following remarks as the Finance Committee began consideration of a new version of the Senate Republicans’ tax bill.

It’s now day three of this tax debate, and this bill seems to get worse by the hour. It started off as a tax hike on nearly 14 million Americans to pay for multi-trillion dollar handouts to multinational corporations and new loopholes for tax cheats.

Then the news broke that these corporate handouts are going to force billions of dollars in cuts to Medicare. And Republican leaders said that entitlements are next after taxes, which means further cuts to Medicare, cuts to Medicaid, and cuts to Social Security.

Let’s cut to early yesterday afternoon. The Republicans couldn’t get through lunch without hatching another plot to go after Americans’ health care. Apparently somewhere between the salad course and the entree, it was decided that permanent corporate tax cuts should be paid for, in part, by kicking 13 million Americans off their health care and raising premiums for millions more. Let’s not kid around, this is not just another garden variety attack on the Affordable Care Act. This is repeal of that law.

That brings us to today, when the American people are learning that individuals are only getting temporary tax cuts out of this Republican bill, but corporations are getting permanent cuts. What a double standard that is. For multinational corporations their handouts are set in stone, written in ink, locked in place with the key thrown away. But not for the middle class.

The Treasury Secretary even said that was where the administration was going to draw its line in the sand — permanent breaks for multinational corporations. But they’re not drawing any lines in the sand when it comes to permanently protecting middle class families.

In fact, for middle-income families, this deal is looking worse and worse. It used to be a promise of a tax cut — cash back in their pockets. Now it’s a roll of the dice. Families are going to have to hope they’re not going to be among the millions whose taxes go up.

So bottom line, my colleagues on the other side have now shown their hand. The corporate handouts are permanent, the family breaks are not. In fact, they don’t even make it a full decade.

To pay for these handouts to multinational corporations, millions of Americans are going to lose their health care, millions will see their premiums skyrocket, and millions will get hit with a tax hike. That’s what’s on offer as of today.

Free Assistance During Medicare Open Enrollment Still Available

November 9, 2017

PIERRE, S.D. – The South Dakota Senior Health Information and Insurance Education (SHIINE) program would like to remind all seniors there is still time to receive free assistance during the Medicare open enrollment period.

Individuals taking advantage of the free one-on-one counseling should bring their Medicare card and a current list of medications.

To schedule a meeting with a volunteer in your community visit www.shiine.net or contact one of the following regional offices:

  • Eastern Region: 1-800-536-8197
  • Central Region: 1-877-331-4834
  • Western Region: 1-877-286-9072

The Medicare open enrollment period ends on Dec. 7.

20 Trillion Reasons to Reform Taxes and Mandatory Payment Programs

U.S. Senator Mike Rounds. (Official Senate Photo)

September 15, 2017
By U.S. Senator Mike Rounds

The federal government’s national debt recently surpassed $20 trillion. While there is plenty of blame to go around, the majority of this debt can be attributed to the past decade, as our debt was $10.6 trillion at the start of 2009. In other words, in the past eight years, the federal government has accrued as much debt as it accrued throughout the first 230 years of our country’s existence. It’s no wonder military leaders acknowledge it as being a top threat to our national security.  Even more frightening, there is no sign of it slowing down.

High debt threatens economic growth by driving up interest rates and discouraging businesses and individuals from investing back into the economy. And it breeds even more debt as the interest on our debt must be paid to those who hold it – leaving fewer resources for other priorities such as roads, research and education.

Our broken tax system also plays a role by limiting our ability to collect revenues. Our current tax rates create a disincentive for companies to do business here in the United States, which then leads to fewer high-paying jobs for American workers, and encourage businesses to keep their profits overseas. Lowering tax rates would incentivize companies to repatriate that money and invest it back into our economy. Earlier this year, I introduced a proposal in the Senate to lower the tax rate in each bracket. It is but one step we can take to overhaul the tax code that will provide direct, immediate relief to hardworking families, jolt our economy and increase federal revenues.

While I do believe tax cuts are an important step to controlling our debt, the biggest driver of our debt is the rapid, unchecked growth of mandatory payments on safety net programs including Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. If we continue down our current path, in less than ten years 99 percent of all federal revenue will have to be spent on mandatory payments and interest on our sky-high debt. No amount of cuts to defense and other programs such as crop insurance, education, highways and bridges will have a meaningful effect on debt reduction without also controlling the cost of these mandatory payment programs.

Mandatory payments already account for nearly three-fourths of our total federal spending today. This is because Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security have never been properly managed and Congress does not currently appropriately oversee them. They run on auto-pilot. Given that they are our largest federal expenditures every year, it is time for Congress to take an active role in managing their funding levels on a regular basis. This does not necessarily mean making cuts – it simply means giving Congress the authority to review them to make them as efficient as possible and to make sure they are available for individuals who need them, both now and in the future.

Surpassing $20 trillion in debt should be a wake-up call to Washington, which for decades has failed to own up to their responsibility to balance its checkbook. I continue to work with my colleagues in the Senate to shake up the budget process in Congress, and open up the entire budget to congressional review – including mandatory payments. It is the only way to slow down the fiscal train wreck. Simply delaying action and looking the other way is not an option.

Custer Area Citizens Protest Trump Mandated Congressional Dismantling of Affordable Care Act

January 15, 2017
By Herb Ryan

America – the country where everyone has the opportunity to lawfully assemble in public and voice their opinion on any subject. At 1:00 pm Sunday afternoon, January 15, 2017, thirty-four  protesters  assembled  in Way Park carrying signs asking for protection on Medicare the Affordable Care Act and Social Security .

The Senate voted 51 to 48 early Thursday, January 12, 2017 to approve a budget resolution instructing House and Senate committees to begin work on legislation to repeal major portions of the Affordable Care Act.

In a press release dated Thursday, January 12, 2017 South Dakota Senator John Thune said “Passing the Obamacare repeal resolution means the Republican-led Senate has begun delivering on the promises we made to the American people,” said Thune. “The current Obamacare situation is unsustainable. Premiums are soaring, insurance markets are collapsing, and patients’ choices are dwindling. With this resolution, we have put the necessary tools in place to repeal Obamacare and replace it with personalized, patient-centered health care that is affordable for every American.

Mary Boots, Custer County Democratic Chairman  said she was at the rally because “there are a group of citizens in the Custer area who are concerned about the future of the Affordable Care Act, the future Medicare and Social Security. We want to make sure The citizens of this country have good affordable healthcare”. Mary continued – We like the Affordable Care Act, but realize some changes need to be made and hope the it is not thrown on the scrap heap leaving some 20 million Americans without healthcare. Sue Martin who has worked in health care said ” I’m going to be needing health care and believe the government has no right to repeal healthcare. If they can improve Obamacare, I would be ok with that” Dennis Knuckles said, ” What we need is affordable health care, not a bunch of platitudes from politicians. Whether it’s a republican or democratic driven healthcare bill, it has to be affordable for everyone, if that’s possible, then I’m for it”.

Most people agreed that the Affordable Care Act has serious flaws that need to be corrected, keeping that thought in mind, affordable health care in this country has always been a challenge and will continue unless radicalized senators in congress can see beyond their personal grudges and party affiliation and do the work of the people. That is why they were elected, they work for us. Apparently, the work most of them do is to appease vested interest and work on getting re-elected. Stop being the silent majority.

Senators of the 115th Congress
The 115th United States House Of Representatives
South Dakota Legislature

Meg Schwartz far right holds a message to members of the House and Congress at the Save Healthcare Rally at Way Park in Custer, SD Sunday, January 15, 2017. Photo: Herb Ryan/Custer Free Press


Custer resident Dennis Knuckles and San Diego resident Susan Fadness demonstrate at the Save Healthcare Rally at Way Park in Custer, SD Sunday, January 15, 2017. Photo: Herb Ryan/Custer Free Press


Custer Rally to Protest GOP-Led Congressional Actions on Affordable Care Act – Social Security – Medicare

January 10, 2016
By Meg Schwartz

CUSTER, SD – There is a call to action from the Democratic Party for local groups to rally on January 15th in support of programs and policies that are important to all Americans.  These include the continuation and strengthening of Social Security, Medicare, affordable health care, equal rights, and much more.  For example, the GOP-led Congress is already working toward dumping the Affordable Care Act without providing a replacement plan, and that would be disastrous for millions of people.

The purpose of the gathering in Way Park on Sunday is to show our legislators – both local and national – that people support  these valuable programs, and that they shouldn’t be gutted for the sake of gaining a few dollars today.  The participants will be representing the issues that are important to them, and all are welcome.  This will be a positive rally, not a protest. We want to be constructive in our message to the people who represent us.

Social Security should not be privatized, and that the taxable income level should be increased.  Funds should also be placed back in the “lockbox” so that Congress cannot use them as a slush fund.  Medicare should be kept, with greater scrutiny of the many instances of fraud and abuse in order to make the program more financially stable.  The Affordable Care Act should be tweaked to place less of a burden on the providers, and should certainly not leave the millions of people who rely on it without coverage.

The Custer Rally will be held at:
Way Park
Corner of Mt. Rushmore Rd, and 4th Street
Custer, SD
Sunday, January 15th at 1:00 pm
Other National Rallies


Noem, Rounds and Thune Leading the Charge to Dismantle Affordable Care Act

January 9, 2017

SIOUX FALLS – The South Dakota Democratic Democratic Party released the following statement in response to the eagerness with which South Dakota’s congressional delegation is joining their fellow Washington establishment Republicans in pursuing the repeal of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), also know as Obamacare, without any plan to replace it:

“Instead of fulfilling their promise to “repeal and replace” the Affordable Care Act, Republicans are going to make America sick again by offering no health care plan to the American people and actually dismantling Medicare, Medicaid as well as the ACA. Congressional Republicans, including Kristi Noem, Mike Rounds, and John Thune, are leading the charge.

“The Republican health care repeal bill will make America sick again by putting insurance companies back in charge of health care, ripping health care away from 30 million people, raising premiums, and creating chaos throughout our whole economy. Independent experts say this will take us back to the old days when insurance companies could discriminate against people, like individuals with pre-existing conditions. Health care costs for all Americans will skyrocket at the same time big corporations get a tax break.

“In South Dakota alone, repeal would mean:

  • 74,000 South Dakotans could lose health care coverage
  • 22,005 South Dakotans would lose financial assistance to cover heath care costs
  • 346,000 South Dakotans with pre-existing conditions (including asthma, diabetes, and cancer) could lose affordable coverage and women in South Dakota could be charged more for coverage due to their gender
  • 392,000 South Dakotans with private insurance, including 86,000 children, and 156,000 South Dakota seniors on Medicare will lose guaranteed access to free preventive care – including recommended cancer screenings and vaccinations
  • The Medicare “donut hole” will open once again, meaning South Dakota seniors and people with disabilities will be forced to pay thousands more for their prescriptions (South Dakotans have saved about $49 million in prescription costs thanks to the ACA closing this “donut hole”)
  • South Dakota health care providers would be faced with $260 million more in uncompensated care costs
  • South Dakota would lose 7,000 jobs, $4.2 billion in state domestic product, $7.5 billion in business productivity, and $108.4 million in state and local tax revenue

“If Kristi Noem, John Thune, Mike Rounds, and their friends in Washington have a plan to replace the ACA and avoid these disastrous effects of its repeal, they have a responsibility to tell the American people what it is. Given that they have had over 6 years to unveil an ACA replacement plan and have failed to do so we can only conclude that one does not exist. Until such a plan is released for the people of South Dakota, and the rest of America, to examine and compare with the ACA, even considering repealing the ACA is completely irresponsible, dangerous, and frankly cruel. The people of South Dakota deserve better.”