With their run-off victory in Georgia, Democrats now have a mandate to protect Social Security. Here’s what they need to do next.
By Nancy J. Altman | December 7, 2022
Republished with Permission: The Roosevelt Island Daily News
Social Security was on the ballot in Georgia’s December 6 run-off election.
Senator Reverend Raphael Warnock’s re-election victory there should be good news for Gold Star families, paralyzed veterans, seniors, and indeed all of Social Security’s over 65 million beneficiaries.
It’s bad news for the Wall Street-backed politicians who are determined to reach into our pockets and steal our hard-earned benefits.
Defeated Republican nominee Herschel Walker proudly campaigned with and took money from Senator Rick Scott (R-FL), the author of a plan that would put Social Security on the chopping block every five years.
Walker would have been a rubber stamp for this plan — and others that would be even worse.
Senator Ron Johnson’s (R-WI) plan would put Social Security on the chopping block every single year. The Republican Study Committee, a group that counts about 75 percent of House Republicans as members, wants to raise the retirement age to 70, slash middle-class benefits, and give billions of Social Security dollars to Wall Street and private insurance corporations.
Republican House Leader Kevin McCarthy, who will be House Speaker next year, says he will take a must-pass debt limit bill hostage to cut our earned Social Security benefits. Senator John Thune (R-SD), the No. 2 Senate Republican leader, has endorsed the same approach — and would have had Walker’s support.
As a self-funded program that has no borrowing authority and can only pay benefits if it has sufficient revenue, Social Security does not add one penny to the federal debt. Nevertheless, these Republicans want to cut our earned benefits so badly, they’re willing to risk an economic catastrophe by defaulting on our obligations.
Warnock’s victory gives Democrats a clear majority in the Senate. Along with President Biden, most of these lawmakers are committed to expanding Social Security — with no cuts — while requiring the wealthiest to begin to pay their fair share.
Social Security embodies the best of our values: that all human beings deserve dignity, freedom, and independence, that hard work should be rewarded, and that we are all connected, sharing the same risks and benefits.
Social Security is as reliable as it is essential. Through pandemics, wars, and economic recessions, Social Security has always continued to reliably pay monthly benefits, allowing its beneficiaries and their families to pay rent, buy food, and fill life-saving prescriptions.
Americans of all political backgrounds rely on our earned Social Security benefits, and fortunately, Warnock supports protecting and expanding them.
As a member of the Senate Aging Committee, Warnock led the successful fight to cap the cost of insulin for seniors. He was part of the winning vote to finally allow Medicare to negotiate with Big Pharma to lower drug prices.
With his re-election, Warnock and his Democratic colleagues have a mandate to protect Social Security’s earned benefits. They must not only oppose cuts — they must also refuse to negotiate benefits with the extremists who plan to take the debt limit hostage.
To avoid a dangerous and potentially calamitous game of chicken, Democrats should thwart the kidnappers by raising or eliminating the debt ceiling before the end of this year. That will foil the right-wing plan to force highly unpopular and unwise Social cuts that voters across America resoundingly rejected this year.
Nancy J. Altman is a writing fellow for Economy for All, a project of the Independent Media Institute. She is president of Social Security Works and chair of the Strengthen Social Security coalition. This op-ed was produced by Economy for All and adapted for syndication by OtherWords.org.