Social Security and Medicare are compacts between the generations that we must not break. Men and women who have spent a lifetime of hard work, providing for their families and saving for their retirement, deserve the security of knowing their retirement and benefits that they worked hard to earn will be there for them.

We've begun to get on track toward a balanced budget, including achieving the Senate’s first budget in three years after I helped pass the No Budget No Pay measure – a promise made during my first campaign for Congress, and a promise kept.

But we've also seen the risks that come with poorly designed and sometimes reckless cuts. Simply put – we can’t let Washington balance the budget on the backs of seniors and the middle class. We must protect both Medicare and Social Security. Period. These are rights seniors have earned after a lifetime of hard work and paying into the system.

While on the San Diego City Council, I set in motion a plan that reduced the overall cost of the pension program while preserving the benefits already paid for by city employees. The culture of working together directly has saved the city hundreds of millions of dollars despite opposition from a few extremists. Protecting and strengthening programs like Social Security and Medicare will require a similar approach.

  • PROTECT SOCIAL SECURITY:  I believe Social Security should be a guarantee for retirement, not a question mark. I will continue to fight any risky scheme to privatize Social Security and expose it to stock market ups and downs, threatening seniors' retirement plans.
  • PRESERVE MEDICARE:  Medicare is what keeps many seniors from a retirement of poverty. I oppose efforts to cut Medicare and reduce it to a private voucher system that will only create a spike in out-of-pocket healthcare costs for seniors. We can reduce fraud and waste and find ways to reduce prescription drug costs, helping to reduce the overall costs of Medicare.

These are the responsible ways to strengthen and protect both Social Security and Medicare, keep them sustainable for future generations, and prevent cutting benefits for people who have earned them and are counting on them.

And we've seen the alternatives. Without a good-faith process, we risk ending up with deeply flawed programs and years or litigation to solve problems that could have been solved the right way the first time by setting aside our ideological blinders and having honest, straightforward dialogue.

I am the only candidate in this race that has actually fought to save pensions for retirees and partnered with workers to strengthen benefits, while reducing overall costs.