The office of Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL), ranking member of the senate budget committee, sent out a statement claiming that Jack Lew, former White House Chief of Staff and current Treasury Secretary nominee, is “complicit in” violating the law that is “aimed at saving medicare.”
Alarmed by the unsustainable growth of Medicare’s unfunded obligations and the direct threat this posed to seniors, Congress in 2003 enacted a legal requirement that the President submit legislation if the Medicare Trustees issue a funding warning for the program as part of their annual report. This provision of federal law is commonly known as the Medicare Trigger, and it is intended to ensure that steps are taken to shore up the program’s finances before it is too late.
In 2008, then-President George W. Bush submitted Medicare legislation to Congress in response to such a warning being issued for the first time. Throughout the past four years of President Obama’s first term, no such legislation has been submitted, despite warnings from the Medicare Trustees every year.
Sessions’ office points out that the warnings were ignored “despite a clear and unambiguous legal obligation” to submit legislation in response. Jack Lew, as the head of the Office of Management and Budget in 2010 and 2011, was responsible for responding to the Medicare Trigger.
According to Sessions’ office:
Both the Senate and House Budget Committees, as well as a strong majority of the Senate Republican Conference, have written letters asking the Obama Administration to act on the Trigger and submit legislation to address Medicare’s funding shortfall. But to this day, the Administration has not complied…
The question must be asked: What role did Lew have in the decision to ignore the legal requirement to address Medicare’s funding imbalance? What confidence should members of Congress have that he will protect that program if he assumes the Treasury Secretary position–which also serves as Chair of the Board of Trustees of the Medicare Trust Funds?