“If any of the recommendations cut or diminish Social Security in any way, we will stand firmly against them.”
As PDA continues its work through summer 2010, we are pursuing an aggressive progressive agenda in support of economic and social justice and a call for the end to war funding. We have joined with our allies to fight for this nation’s social insurance safety net programs—Social Security and Medicare—in the face of cries by conservative groups and other non-progressive types to cut benefits and raise the retirement age as a mechanism to somehow put a dent in the federal deficit.
In July, Medicare celebrated its 45th anniversary, and in August 2010, Social Security turned 75. We joined a group of our single-payer, Medicare for all allies in contacting every Congressional office with information about the incredible success and viability of Medicare. Then we targeted our progressive friends in Congress and asked more of them. We asked for clear and public support for protecting and strengthening both Social Security and Medicare.
After meeting with legislative staff for Rep. Raul Grijalva and Rep. Lynn Woolsey, we asked that these leaders of the Congressional Progressive Caucus weigh in strongly about protecting Social Security before President Obama’s “Commission on Fiscal Responsibility” reports to Congress that cutting the deficit requires cutting benefits from our most successful and valuable programs. Representatives Grijalva and Woolsey responded quickly and decisively and sent a letter to the President opposing any cuts to Social Security.
In that letter to the President, Grijalva and Woolsey wrote,
“In communities across this country, Social Security benefits are often the only thing helping families maintain a decent standard of living. We will not allow the commission to reduce Social Security payments, especially during an economic downturn that has wiped out trillions of dollars in net worth around the country.
“Any recommendations from your commission must be enacted by both houses of Congress. If any of those recommendations cut or diminish Social Security in any way, we will stand firmly against them.”
Why does it matter, some ask? Why are we fighting against cuts to Social Security and for Medicare? For PDA, and more specifically for the Healthcare NOT Warfare campaign, the need to fight for programs of social and economic justice being fully and well funded while also challenging the funding of more war is exactly the progressive battle we must fight. If we cannot protect and improve the programs we have, we surely will not expand them in any meaningful way. We made it clear to our progressive allies in Congress that they must stand with us in this struggle—and we are pleased they did so.
This battle has not ended. While some simply call for no privatization for Social Security trust funds, progressives call for a much stronger position: no benefit cuts for Social Security or Medicare; no raising of the retirement age. PDA will hold our candidates accountable for their positions on this issue as we look to the 2010 mid-term elections. And we look forward to adding more progressive Congressional members to the ranks of those who, like Representative Grijalva and Representative Woolsey, take a firm stand to protect and honor this nation’s social insurance safety net.
Healthcare NOT Warfare co-chair
Healthcare for All/Single Payer Issue Organizing Team coordinator
Progressive Democrats of America is a grassroots PAC that works both inside the Democratic Party and outside in movements for peace and justice. PDA’s advisory board includes seven members of Congress and activist leaders such as Tom Hayden, Medea Benjamin, Thom Hartmann, Jim Hightower, and Lila Garrett.