The Future of Social Security and Medicare Are On The Ballot
The reactionary billionaires who fund the GOP and their followers have always hated Social Security because this program has proven again and again that government can help the American people. Since its inception in 1935, right wing Republicans have predicted that it would ruin the economy and the country. Conservative doomsayers prognosticated that workers would never see any benefits when they retired. Instead, the money would be spent on other priorities by the federal government. Other right wingers fearlessly predicted that FDR’s New Deal would cause hyper-inflation and that if anybody every received any benefits, they would be rendered worthless by that inflation. As early as 1936, GOP Presidential nominee Alf Landon predicted that Social Security would go broke. (The right wing has persisted in making that erroneous prediction up to the present time.)
Similarly, when Medicare was being debated in the early to mid-1960s, the conservative wing of the GOP predicted disaster would ensue if senior citizens were insured. Then washed up movie actor Ronald Reagan led the GOP opposition to Medicare. At that time, Reagan boldly predicted that Medicare would “curtail Americans’ freedom” and that “pretty soon your son won’t decide when he’s in school, where he will go or what he will do for a living. He will wait for the government to tell him.” The former movie actor even went so far as to say that: “We are going to spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children, what it once was like in America when men were free.
When it comes to radical right wing opposition to these successful anti-poverty programs, nothing has changed since 1935. Already, prominent Republicans are talking about cutting Social Security and Medicare if they should win the election in order to fund the recent deficit financed tax cut for the wealthy. As we know, the Trump/GOP tax bill has returned us to the days of $1 trillion deficits. Those deficits will be $2 trillion when (not if) we have a recession.
Already, the Trump Administration is making it clear that Social Security and Medicare are in the cross hairs if the GOP wins on November 6. In a recent interview, Trump economic adviser (and former right wing entertainer) Lawrence Kudlow stated that the Administration will “probably” look at “larger entitlements” next year in an effort to cut spending. As we all know, the term “entitlements” is the GOP’s code word for Social Security and Medicare.
Kudlow isn’t the only prominent Republican targeting programs for senior citizens for cuts next year. Several influential GOP members of Congress agree with Kudlow. For example, House Speaker Paul Ryan said: “We’re going to have to get back next year at entitlement reform, which is how you tackle the debt and the deficit.” Third ranking GOP Senate member John Thune is also on board: “ We have also got to take on making our entitlement programs more sustainable. I think there is support, generally, here for entitlement reform.”
Unfortunately, every member of Nebraska’s Congressional delegation votes with their party bosses at least 90% of the time (or more) and are already on the record in favor of cutting Social Security and Medicare. Ben Sasse, Deb Fischer and Don Bacon have all come out for either cuts in Social Security and/or turning it over to Wall Street. All five members of our delegation have voted to end Medicare as we know it and turn it into a voucher program.
Our entire Congressional delegation is out of touch with Nebraska values and are beholden to their wealthy and special interest donors. We Nebraskans across the ideological spectrum believe in a dignified retirement for our senior citizens. Most Nebraskans would be horrified to find out that their so-called “representatives” want to turn their pensions and health care over to greedy, out of state special interest groups.
The stakes couldn’t be any higher in November. The progressive reforms of the 20th century are on the ballot. We can’t afford to go back to the days of the first Gilded Age where senior citizens were sent to the poor house or the poor farm after they lost their assets built up during a lifetime of hard work. As Theodore Roosevelt said in 1912 when he challenged the wealthy elites who controlled the GOP: “Fearless of the future; unheeding of our individual fates; with unflinching hearts and undimmed eyes; we stand at Armageddon, and we battle for the Lord!”