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Shifting from Defense to Offense

Americans Want Improved Social Security and Medicare and less Military Spending

 

A tectonic shift is occurring in the US body politic. Ignore the media-driven sideshow about the 2014 contest for control of the House or about the screwed-up Obamacare insurance-market website. The real political battle is over Social Security and Medicare, and there the story is a historic turn from fighting against Washington efforts to cut those programs to demanding that both be expanded.

A coalition of progressive groups organizations, including of groups like the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare, NOW, Paralyzed Veterans of America, Generations United, NARFE and SocialSecurity Works, last week protested outside the White House against a proposal, still included in the proposed Obama 2014 budget, to cut back on the inflation adjustment to Social Security, effectively assuring a gradual, but significant reduction in benefits in future years for elderly retirees and the disabled.

Meanwhile, a small but growing group of US senators and representatives, including Sen. Bernie Sanders, an independent socialist from Vermont, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA), Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Sen. Mark Begich (D-AK) and Sen. Bryan Shatz (D-HI), is calling for eliminating the cap on income subject to Social Security taxation, so that all Americans, including millionaires and billionaires, pay the full FICA tax on their income, a move which would effectively end any talk of the Social Security program “running out of money.”

It’s about time.

As Sen. Warren put it in a recent statement on the Senate floor, “We should be talking about expanding Social Security benefits – not cutting them…. Social Security is incredibly effective, it is incredibly popular, and the calls for strengthening it are growing louder every day.”

While Democratic party leaders, like House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and President Obama, in thrall to Wall Street lobbyists, have offered to cut Social Security benefits by, for example, adopting a new stingier means of calculating inflation called the “Chained CPI), polls show that Americans consistently and resoundingly support not just protecting Social Security but expanding its currently meager benefits.

Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) want expanded Social Security, not just no benefit cutsSens. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) want expanded Social Security, not just no benefit cuts

 

A recent poll, for instance, by Public Policy Polling, released on Nov. 20, found that voters, by an “overwhelming margin,” support expanded Social Security benefits, not cuts in the 77-year-old New Deal program. Fully 65% of those polled supported expanding benefits, while on nine out of 10 questions about cutting Social Security benefits, the “no cuts” position won by over 70%, with only one question showing the “no-cuts” position winning by “just” 66%.

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