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We Need a Mass Movement to Save and Expand Social Security and Medicare

Old, young, men and women of all races fighting together

Those higher benefits can certainly be paid, just as they are paid for in Europe, where employers pay more and often workers too. They could be funded by extending the FICA tax to not just earned income, but to investment income, as some countries in Europe do. They could be funded by a small transaction tax on short-term stock and bond trades. Certainly when wealthy people make profits in the stock market or in real estate, they should also pay a FICA tax on those profits. We could exempt retirement investment funds that are invested tax-deferred retirement plans since those are serving the same goal of helping people have a decent life in old age, and since people buy and hold their investments in those funds and don’t day-trade them.

If these reform were implemented, it could finance a dramatic increase in Social Security benefits so that, as in Europe, they would replace 60% of pre-retirement income, not the average 40% currently replaced. This would, in at least a small, if broad-based way, correct the gaping wealth gap that has been developing in the US.

Meanwhile, Medicare too, on which every old person and many disabled people rely to pay for their medical care, is also in danger of running our of funds for the same reason as Social Security. That is insane. It’s a great program that is loved by all Americans who use it or whose parents use it. It works great but is simply underfunded. It needs more money, and since the alternative is people paying privately for their care, which will not work. Better funding is the only and best solution. But why limit Medicare to just the elderly and disabled? It should cover everyone, as some version of it does in every other modern developed country in the world.
But here’s the real issue: If we want rescue and to make these improvements and expansions of Social Security and Medicare, we’re going to need political muscle to do it. The Republicans aren’t going to help They’ve been trying to get rid of Social Security and Medicare since those systems were established. The Democrats won’t do it either. In years past, the party was talking about ways to cut benefits, for example by arbitrarily changing the way inflation is calculated to minimize annual upward adjustments in benefits. And they don’t want to antagonize their wealthy backers by raising taxes on them — even taxes that would be returned in the form of Social Security benefits later. After all, the rich don’t care about getting Social Security checks in their old age. It’s just chump change. As for Medicare, progressive Democrats are calling for Medicare for All, but the party leadership and many Democratic members of Congress will not join them.

No, to make such kind of changes will require a political mass movement outside of the corrupted two-party system. A movement not at election time, but in the streets. It will take repeated marches on Congress and the White House by millions of people. It will take a coalition of young and old, men and women, people of all races to make this happen.

And that’s why this particular battle is so important. It’s not just that we need improved and strengthened Social Security and Medicare for All. This is a political battle we Americans can all fight for together, and that we can win because of that.

story | by Dr. Radut