Sunday, September 18, 2011
Declaring that “Social Security is the most successful government program in our nation’s history,” and decrying threats to Medicare and Medicaid that would punish Americans who did not cause the current economic crisis, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders brought thousands of progressives from across the Midwest to their feet Saturday, as they cheered his message to President Obama and the Congressional “super-committee”: “We can deal with deficit reduction in a way that is fair and responsible.”
“Instead of balancing the budget on the backs of working families, the elderly, the children, the sick and the most vulnerable,” Sanders said, “it is time to ask the wealthiest people and most profitable corporations in this country to pay their fair share.”
In several speeches to crowds numbers in the thousands who gathered for Fighting BobFest events in Madison, Wisconsin, Sanders continues to spell out the progressive economic agenda that argues against cuts in Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid to balance budgets and address deficits and for tax policies that end special breaks for the wealthy and multinational corporations that offshore jobs from the United States.
President Obama is expected to deliver a major speech Monday on deficit reduction, and the White House has indicated that the president’s plan will not include “changes to Social Security.” Sanders is glad of that: “I am delighted that the White House has decided not to cut benefits under the program that has kept millions of retirees out of poverty,” the senators said in Madison. “Social Security has $2.5 trillion surplus, can pay out every benefit for the next twenty-seven years and has not contributed one nickel to the deficit. Social Security should be strengthened, not cut.”
That does not mean the House-Senate “super-committee” on deficit reduction—which is ramping up its work as members of Congress return to Washington—will do so, however. Nor does it mean that related and equally vital programs, such as Medicaid and Medicare, are off the chopping block.
“Rumors persist that President Obama may embrace the idea of raising the age of Medicare eligibility, an idea he put on the table in his negotiations with Republicans during the debt ceiling debacle.” notes the Campaign for America’s Future, which has been closely monitoring threats to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.