A Tale of Two Democrats

Filed in Delaware, National by on February 15, 2014

Or at least two types of Democrats.

Yesterday, Senator Bernie Sanders and 15 other Democratic Senators sent a letter to President Obama urging him to not cut Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid in his FY15 budget. It won’t be much of a surprise to most of the readers here to find that neither Senator Carper or Coons signed on to this letter. Interestingly, Senator Coons voted to restore the cuts to military pensions and Carper voted against them. So take a look at what a group of Democrats genuinely interested in the well-being of middle class and working class people urged the President:

Today, retirement insecurity is as high as it has ever been. Only one in five workers in the private sector has a defined benefit pension plan; half of Americans have less than $10,000 in savings; and two-thirds of seniors rely on Social Security for a majority of their income.

Given this reality, we respectfully urge you not to propose cutting Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid benefits in your Fiscal Year 2015 budget.

In good times and bad, Social Security has succeeded in keeping millions of senior citizens, widows, orphans, and persons with disabilities out of extreme poverty. Before Social Security was developed, about half of our seniors lived in poverty; today senior poverty is down to 9.1 percent. Without Social Security, one-third of senior citizens would have virtually no earnings at all.

Social Security has not contributed one penny to the deficit. Social Security has a surplus of more than $2.7 trillion and can pay every single benefit owed to every eligible American for the next 19 years.

There’s more (including Democrats acknowledging that the deficit has been cut in half!) in Senator Sanders’ letter and there is little to disagree with. Unless you have issues representing the people that Social Security and Medicare are committed to support.

Then there’s Senator Carper — who voted against the COLA restoration for military retirees. And there’s Senator Coons and Representative Carney who voted FOR the COLA repeal — Coons with a press release touting his vote with this:

“Congress must take action to reduce our nation’s dangerous deficits, but it should not do so on the backs of our military families,” Senator Coons said. “The Bipartisan Budget Act was an important step forward, but like any compromise, it was far from perfect. Cuts to military-retiree pensions unfairly target those who have sacrificed the most for our country. The bill we advanced tonight would repeal these cuts, and I’m glad my colleagues have joined me in supporting this fix for our veterans.”

What might Coons’ support of Social Security look like?

“congress must take action to reduce our nation’s dangerous deficits, but it should not do so on the backs of our elderly,” Senator Coons said. “The Bipartsan Budget Act was an important step forward, but like any compromise it was far from perfect. Cuts to Social Security unfairly target those who have worked all their lives and paid into this program that has successfully guaranteed that working Americans have some financial dignity in retirement, The bill we advanced tonight would ensure that one of the greatest achievements of President Roosevelt — the promise that the Social Security funds you’ve paid into would be available as a hedge against a poverty-ridden old age, and I’, glad my colleagues have joined me in supporting this fix for American workers.”

Right? Instead, the kind of thing we hear from our entire Congressional delegation looks alot like Carper’s rationale for voting against the COLA restoration:

“We‘re making some progress on deficit reduction in this country, but our deficit is still a half-trillion dollars this year, and that’s huge,” he said. “If we’re serious about making progress, all of us who are able to do something to help out need to do that. I think Americans are willing to do their part if asked, and I think they look to people like me to try to provide some leadership and set an example.”

Social Security — in particular — isn’t part of deficit reduction. The only way it even adds to the deficit is if Congress has to borrow money to pay back the IOUs representing the surpluses in the account that Congress has spent. Medicare and Medicaid have different problems — but the point I want to make here is that every single one of these guys is in the business of selling deficit reduction on the backs of the people who can least afford to finance it. There is no leadership in not recognizing the astonishing retirement freight train that is coming down the track; there is no leadership in asking the people who can least afford it to sacrifice; and there is no leadership in not asking ALL Americans — including wealthier Americans AND American businesses — to join the sacrifice. As long as GE pays no taxes and the government is a river of money to ExxonMobil, not one of these guys should be doing any public handwringing about deficit reduction via Social Security or Medicare or Medicaid. For the latter two, there are plenty of interesting ideas out there to reduce the long term cost of these programs while preserving the service. Anyone remember letting people buy into Medicare? That has some promise in reducing the cost of Medicare while expanding the money available for services.

There’s no leadership in chipping away at the financial security of everyday Americans — without asking the people who get an astonishing number of benefits from the government that they can easily afford on their own to pitch in as well.

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"You don't make progress by standing on the sidelines, whimpering and complaining. You make progress by implementing ideas." -Shirley Chisholm

Comments (16)

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  1. auntie dem says:

    You nailed it again Cassandra. Hear, hear!

  2. delawarelefty says:

    Democrats who don’t stand up for Social Security are really Republicans.

  3. Tom McKenney says:

    If Sen. Carper is really concerned about deficits, why doesn’t fight to undo the Bush tax cuts?
    I’m sick of the “we all have to share the pain” should read you have to deal with the pain.
    If I look to you senator for someone who sets an example, then I want a senators salary and benefits from the government.

  4. Tom Kline says:

    Cassandra how much do you pay into the system? Let’s see your W2… It’s easy being a Lib when you pay little or no taxes.

  5. delawarelefty says:

    Gee Tom Kline, where did you post your W2?? It’s easy for a fool to talk trash. Thanks for your comment.

  6. kavips says:

    I take a different approach than Tom Kline. I’d say if you have to tax anyone, you might as well really soak it to the ultra rich conservatives because they aren’t doing society any good, in any way.. At least by soaking them, they’d have some worth to the rest of us, even if it is just a little higher on the evolutionary ladder above a mosquito.

    If 47% doesn’t matter. 1% certainly doesn’t either.

  7. Liberal Elite says:

    @TK “It’s easy being a Lib when you pay little or no taxes.”

    Then please explain why Maryland is the state with the highest per capita income? AND one of the highest fraction of liberals.

    And why is it that the county in Maryland with the most liberals has the highest income???

    What you should already know is that liberals pay the bills and the conservatives are on welfare. Name one red state that pays more in federal taxes than it sucks out??

    And who is it that owns most of the rent seeking industries (i.e. the beggars for corporate welfare)???

  8. Dave says:

    W2s are meaningless since they only identify withholding and not actual taxes paid. My federal effective tax rates (as a percentage of income) after all deductions and/or credits.
    2012: 15.73%
    2010: 13.83%

    Of course, we couldn’t compare our W2s with the Mitt Romney’s of the world because they don’t have W2s since they don’t earn ordinary income and live entirely from return on investments which are taxed at a much lower rate than the W2 folks.

  9. Camptown Lady says:

    ….urging him not to cut…Medicare…

    It’s already been cut by 716 billion. To be ‘reinvested,’ of course.

    Eventually, the Congress and the President will have to stop kicking the can down the road, and face reality, as will retires;

    Each year the Trustees of the Social Security and Medicare trust funds report on the current and projected financial status of the two programs. This message summarizes the 2013 Annual Reports.

    Neither Medicare nor Social Security can sustain projected long-run programs in full under currently scheduled financing, and legislative changes are necessary to avoid disruptive consequences for beneficiaries and taxpayers. If lawmakers take action sooner rather than later, more options and more time will be available to phase in changes so that the public has adequate time to prepare. Earlier action will also help elected officials minimize adverse impacts on vulnerable populations, including lower-income workers and people already dependent on program benefits.

    Social Security Trustee Report

  10. CamptownLady: The $700 billion Medicare cuts to which you refer were special interest lagnappes provided originally by Bush to the “Advantage” portions of piggyback, somewhat fluffy goodies the Insurance Industry had wrapped around the basic Medicare Plan they were marketing. That originally was the first attempt at privatizing Medicare by Bush, pushed by the Insurance lobby. Where was the money “reinvested”? To help offset ObamaCare premium costs to medium to lower income consumers, it is going directly to people, in the form of subsidies, who otherwise cannot afford the healthcare you probably enjoy.

  11. cassandra_m says:

    Seriously, it is probably best to ignore Camptown and his Postmodern Bullshit act until he understands he is not entitled to his own facts.

  12. Camptown Lady says:

    Seriously, it is probably best to ignore Camptown and his Postmodern Bullshit act…

    Your fixation is an obsession which needs no psychoanalysis. It’s not my fault that you didn’t know what ‘postmodern’ means.

    …until he understands he is not entitled to his own facts.

    My “own” facts? Are you saying that Medicare wasn’t cut by $716 billion?

    And if you had taken the effort to click the link I provided (Social Security Trustee Report), you’d know that it was a report prepared by those charged with maintaining the viability of SS/Medicare/Medicaid. I presented no “facts” whatsoever, other than the fact that the report exists.

  13. Liberal Elite says:

    @CL “My “own” facts? Are you saying that Medicare wasn’t cut by $716 billion?”

    I believe that the discussion is about Medicare BENEFITS.

    What was cut wasn’t really a benefit. It was corporate pork scheme.

  14. Tom McKenney says:

    CL .If you read what you posted you should realize that congress has taken early action in the form of the ACA. Medicare is the major worry Social Security is a fairly easy fix. Any attempts to fix it are opposed by conservatives who want to kill it.

  15. Tony says:

    Flip Flop Flip Flop Flip Flop Flip Flop Flip Flop Flip Flop

  16. puck says:

    Are you saying that Medicare wasn’t cut by $716 billion?”

    A textbook example of “truthiness.”