Monday, June 06, 2016

Establishment Democrats Finally Join Progressives And Swing Away From GOP Plans To Cut Social Security


Obama came close to sealing a Grand Bargain with Boehner that would have made significant cuts to Social Security and Medicare, my raising age eligibilities and by slowing cost of living allowances. It wasn't harsh enough for the Tea Party so most conservative Republicans voted against it and it failed. Plenty of conservative Democrats-- basically nearly all of the Blue Dogs and New Dems-- backed it... and still do. Oregon Blue Dog Kurt Schrader introduced an amendment to pass it, which failed spectacularly, but there were 54 Democrats who thought it was a good idea, including party leaders Nancy Pelosi and Steny Hoyer, one who's now in the Senate-- Gary Peters (New Dem-MI)-- 2 now running for the Senate-- Loretta Sanchez (Blue Dog-CA) and Chris Van Hollen (MD)-- 3 corporate whores running for seats they lost in 2014-- Joe Garcia (New Dem-FL), Pete Gallego (Blue Dog-TX) and Colleen Hanabusa (New Dem-HI)-- and all the worst garbage the New Dems have to offer, from Ami Bera (CA), Ron Kind (WI), Jim Himes (CT), Cheri Bustos (IL), John Delaney (MD) and Joe Crowley (NY) to Jim Cooper (TN), Scott Peters (CA), Gregory Meeks (NY) and Denny Heck (WA). And 6 bums who lost their seats the next time they faced the voters.

By now you've heard that after over 7 years in office President Obama has had a complete change of heart and now says he favors expanding Social Security instead of expanding it. Ironic? Whatever. Someone who's been fighting for expanding Social Security all along-- the guy who came up with the idea, is SocialSecurityWorks founder Eric Kingson. And he's running for Congress up in Syracuse in Central New York. The truck above is the one Blue America has driving all over the district right up until June 28th primary. And Social Security is the topic. Right after Obama's announcement that he's switched his position in Social Security, Kingson sent us a note celebrating it. "President Obama," he wrote, "announced that it’s time to make 'Social Security more generous so today’s retirees and future generations get the dignified retirement that they have earned.'" He said he applauds him "for joining the growing movement in the Democratic Party to expand Social Security-- for today’s seniors, workers, persons with severe disabilities, and for generations to come. With two-thirds of today’s working persons, especially those in their late 40s and 50s, facing a personal retirement income crisis, yes, it’s time to expand benefits. With the Social Security benefits for today’s seniors averaging just $14,000, today’s older Americans need benefit increases, and they need fairer cost-of-living adjustments. With the United States being one of only three nations that do not provide paid maternity benefits at birth or adoption, it’s long past time to add up to 12 weeks paid family and sick leave to our Social Security." His Republican opponent John Katko doesn't agree.
Hopefully, Representative John Katko and the Republican Party will also come to the realization that Americans-- Democrats, Independents and Republicans alike--  want to see benefits increased, not cut, not privatized as Speaker Paul Ryan has long advocated.

I am proud to play a leadership role in this movement. Social Security Works and the Strengthen Social Security Coalition of 300 organizations that Nancy Altman and I co-founded in 2009 is widely recognized as playing a central role in stopping cuts, and putting the goal of expanding Social Security on the map. I am proud of my colleagues at Social Security Works and the many organizations who worked side by side to change our nation’s discussion about the future of Social Security.
One of Kingson's campaign managers, Lauren Livingston, added that  he's "the only candidate for Congress in New York’s 24th District who, without being in Congress, has actually made a difference in the lives of everyone in the district. In Congress, Eric will keep fighting for everyone’s Social Security, and he will apply his knowledge of how to make change to many other concerns of Central New Yorkers-- job development, infrastructure investment, renewable energy, education, debt reduction for college graduates and free college education.”

Goal Thermometer Eric isn't just battling a Republican crackpot, he has two garden variety establishment Democrats he's facing in the primary, Colleen Deacon (the Chuck Schumer puppet who used to be a low level staffer for Kirsten Gillibrand) and some rich guy named Steve Wiliams who Steve Israel dug up. With the 2 establishment Democrats competing for the Republican-lite lane, this is the perfect opportunity to elect one of the country's foremost Social Security experts to Congress-- which is why I included the Blue America contribution thermometer on the right.

Last month, Eric debated the 2 conservative Democrats on WRVO radio. When the host asked them the standard question-- at least in progressive circles-- about whether or not to remove the Social Security cap so that millionaires and billionaires make payroll contributions on all their earnings, just like everyone else who earns less than $118,500, Deacon and Williams were flummoxed and didn't understand the concept. After Deacon stated we should, "put all options on the table...we need to look at the cap" (which, whether she knew it or not, is Beltway-speak for putting benefit cuts on the table), Williams got all worked up and challenged her babbling, "I don’t know what 'we need to look at something’ means.'" Williams, the closest to a Republican of the candidates and the one who's most like the unpopular Katko, does not favor removing the cap but felt there "needs to be an economic study."

Another Blue America-endorsed candidate (who you will find at the same thermometer) is Seattle's Pramila Jayapal and she also noted-- happily-- Obama's change of heart on Social Security. "As recently as 2012," she wrote, "Democrats were expending time and energy playing defense on Social Security-- trying to prevent drastic cuts to this critical program, but never thinking big or bold about the kind of new vision it needed. But this week for the first time, President Obama publicly announced his support for expanding Social Security benefits. This huge development came after years of strong progressive advocacy and growing support from leaders like Senator Elizabeth Warren. Expanding Social Security is now the mainstream position of the Democratic Party."

Pramila wants to make certain the Democratic Drafting Committee makes it official and includes it in the official Democratic Party platform. I'm sure she was as shocked as most of us were when it came out that New Dem Debbie Wasserman Schultz, in her capacity as head of the DNC vetoed Bernie's selection of RoseAnn DeMoro, of National Nurses United, for the committee. Wassermann Schultz, who has been stuffing the committees with sleazy corporate lobbyists told Bernie he isn't allowed to put any union representatives on the committee. It's a very different Democratic Party, especially with a monster like Wasserman Schultz as DNC chair. One of Wasserman Schultz's spokespersons confirmed Bernie's account and pointed out that the DNC already had a union rep, one from a tame, sell-out union, AFSCME, that does whatever the party establishment tells it to do. DeMoro: "The most insidious thing, frankly, is that only one of 15 people on this drafting committee is for labor. It shows you how insidious the DNC has become. Labor built this party. Labor built this country. One person is enough to represent all of that? If you look at the composition of who they chose, besides Bernie’s choices, K Street’s far better represented than the labor movement."

Pramila is still hopeful and told her supporters that "Two weeks from now, 15 Democratic leaders will convene to start drafting the official Democratic Party platform for 2016. With Donald Trump at the top of the Republican ticket, it's more critical than ever before that we have a party platform that reflects the kind of bold, progressive ideas Americans support-- things like expanding Social Security, raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour, and equal pay for equal work... Social Security is one of the most successful and vital programs our country has ever seen, but we haven't expanded it as needed to meet the new demands of our families. In the State Senate, I worked to make identifying long-term care solutions for Washington’s growing senior population a top priority, and in Congress, I will take on this fight to expand and protect Social Security for generations to come, because programs like Social Security represent the best of American values, the belief that we're all better off when we're all better off."

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At 3:45 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

So DWS doesn't want any union representation on the DNC Platform Committee? It's a shame that union workers still see the Democrats as the lesser of two evils when they are no less evil than the Republicans.

The US desperately needs a Labor Party, but what remains of organized labor has no balls to build one.

At 12:46 AM, Anonymous ap215 said...

Gee I wonder what changed Obama's mind on SS public pressure perhaps.


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