How To Protect Social Security: Strategy Session

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Evidence mounts each day that The Powers That Be in Washington are looking to cut Social Security and Medicare benefits.  A couple of weeks ago, some key progressive leaders joined a conference call hosted by the Progressive Change Campaign Committee (PCCC), to discuss how to protect and defend Social Security and Medicare.  Here is what Congressman Grayson had to say:

Adam Green: Hey folks, thank you so much for joining [us]. This is Adam Green, co-founder of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee. And I want to welcome you to our briefing today. In the midst of this sequester, we have great Progressives talking about their positions on the [Social Security and Medicare] cuts. . . .  So without further ado, we are very proud to first turn things over to one of our bold, Progressive heroes, Congressman Grayson.

Congressman Alan Grayson: Yes. Thank you. Thanks very much. When we first put this [""] letter together, I thought hard about the promise that it makes. And let me read it to you verbatim:

"We are writing to the President to let you know that we will vote against any and every cut to Medicare, Medicaid, or Social Security benefits -- including raising the retirement age or cutting the cost of living adjustments that our constituents earned and need."

I gave it a lot of thought before I signed off on this letter, as to whether I really meant it, whether that was my "red line."  I tried to think about all the different possibilities that might come up, the things that might go into a bill that would cut [benefits], what would be appealing to me. Honestly, I thought, 'What if they had said they were going to end the war in Afghanistan? '[in a bill that would cut Social Security] -- that's something very important to me. But I realized in the end that I had nothing. I couldn't think of a single thing that could be put into a bill that would make me willing to break our promise to our constituents, for something they earned and so badly need. They paid for it. They need it. They want it. They deserve it.  It's that simple.

And I understand the difficulty that many people may have in this Congress, in predicting what might come up and making a commitment, making up their minds. A lot of people always want to keep their options open.  But I think this is a fair test.  This is a fair test.

This is a fair test of your commitment to basic principles, because a cut to Social Security benefits, Medicare benefits, Medicaid benefits is cheating old people, cheating poor people, cheating sick people. That's what it comes down to.  It's taking something away from them that they need it to live – something they've earned themselves. And I can't do it. So I'm happy to say to the President, to you all, and to anybody else that listens: I won't do it. I just won't. I'm not going to use my vote to hurt people who are that needy and that deserving. I won't do it.

And I'm apparently not the only who feels this way, because even though we have had this [] letter just out now for a couple of weeks, before today we had 25 Members of Congress who had signed on to this letter. Today, there are two more. We have been joined by Stephen Lynch of Massachusetts and William Lacy Clay of Missouri. And there will be more to come, because first of all, it's right, and secondly, it's good politics. And that has become clear to me more and more, as I talk to people.

I had a reporter come to me and ask me, "Is this like the Grover Norquist 'No Tax Increase Pledge?"' I said, "Yeah, sure, just like a fish is like a bicycle."

If you promise that you won't raise taxes on millionaires and billionaires and multinational corporations, that shows whom you really represent. And if you say that you won't cut benefits for old people, sick people, poor people, that shows whom you care about, too.

These programs are the greatest accomplishments of the Democratic Party and the Progressive Movement for the past 80 years. They are things that every other country with an advanced economy takes for granted.  Every other [advanced] country has universal healthcare. Every other [advanced] country has old-age pensions – every single one of them. And there is no reason I can think of why we have to be different -- particularly when you consider the Social Security trust fund has almost $2 trillion in net worth.

So that's what it comes down to. I want their party, the other party, to be known as the party that only cares for millionaires, billionaires and multinational corporations -- and they prove it through their pledge.  I want our party, our movement, to be known about the party that cares about poor people, needy people, sick people, who have earned the benefits that they deserve to get.

And that's a clear line I want the American people to see. It's something that I feel in my heart. And I also feel that it's great politics, because people deserve a choice. You know, you can't reach a point in this country where the only choice you get it is between Diet Coke and Coke Zero. That's not good enough. We need people to be able to choose.  And choose for real. There needs to be a clear line, clear difference, when they cast their vote. They need to know who they're voting for and why. And I think this is the best possible example – this makes it all clear.

I can go into my next election next year – and twenty-six other Democrats can go into their next election next year – knowing that we have provided certain amount of clarity about what is at stake for the people when they vote in our districts: You are either for The People or against them. And we've shown what side we're on.

That, ultimately, is the question in politics: whose side are you on?...

Which leaves us with an interesting question:  Whose side are you on?  Congressman Grayson is on your side.  Will you show that you're on his side, by contributing to his re-election campaign before the end of the quarter? Two lucky supporters will join Congressman Grayson at Disney World.  But every single supporter will have shown . . .


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