This has been a very emotional summer for many Nebraskans who've met with me on a variety of topics including those who've lost homes and livelihoods in historic flooding, seniors who are concerned that they're going to be made the scapegoat in cutting the national debt, and the family of one of our fellow Nebraskans who died in service to our country.
Flood -- Swift Action
During visits to a number of areas hit by the flood, there was a central theme. They need help from the federal government as soon as possible. Each person has a heartbreaking story and it made me commit to do all I can in working closely with state and federal officials to help those who've been displaced get the help they need.
There is flood insurance for people who are insured and there is crop insurance for farmers. For those who are not insured there is the possibility of individualized assistance. The point I've tried to stress to flood victims is that Congress should do whatever it can in these tight budget times to address their hardships and do it quickly.
I also assured flood victims that there will be Congressional hearings into this year's flooding and what can be done to keep it from happening again. Already I have met with a group of my fellow senators along the Missouri River to question the Army Corps of Engineers, determine how much water storage capacity is needed in upstream dams, and what it will take to repair damage to levees caused by the floods.
Finances -- Cut Spending
Moving from floods to the debt debate, I'm following the debt ceiling negotiations carefully and want to reiterate that I do not favor tax increases. The U.S. needs to cut spending in order to bring down the debt. However, I oppose efforts to balance the budget on the backs of the elderly. There are 239,000 Nebraskans on Medicare and about 300,000 Nebraskans that receive Social Security. That's not an obligation we can turn our back on.
We have an obligation to fulfill our promise to them and I will fight against efforts to make seniors pay for the lack of fiscal discipline in Washington.
Fallen Hero -- Street Named in Honor
Recently, I had the distinct honor of delivering remarks at a ceremony that named a street in Bellevue, Nebraska in honor of a Nebraskan, Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Jeffrey L. Chaney, who was killed while trying to dismantle a bomb in Iraq in 2007.
As I said to those gathered, which included members of his family, it is important to celebrate and remember our heroes and Jeff Chaney is most certainly a genuine, red, white and blue American hero.
Jeff Chaney gave his life for liberty. He gave his life trying to save others. It is the mark of heroism and his sacrifice makes our nation stronger.
My hope is that when future generations see his name on that street in Bellevue it will cause them to think about the sacrifices our military men and women have made on our behalf. I know that's what I'll do because that's what makes this such a great country.