A Program for Combating Poverty -- Stop the Cuts to Social Security, Medicare, Expand Medicare to All
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Before Medicare, barely half of seniors had medical coverage, Within five years, 97 percent did.
A similar story can be told about Social Security. Before that law was enacted in 1935, only 15 percent of workers had private pension plans, and many American seniors were mired in poverty totally dependent on their sons and daughters.
Now, reports the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, Social Security provides two-thirds of the income for recipients over 65, and more than 90 percent for one-third of seniors. Only 10 percent of seniors are below the official poverty level, without Social Security more than half would be.
That’s the context in which the “deficit scolds,” as economist Paul Krugman calls them, are targeting Social Security and Medicare.
It is the working poor who must work longer and those who would be thrown back into poverty, especially women who have historically earned less than men and built less of an income base that determines amounts of benefits, who would be most harmed by such cuts as raising the eligibility age or slashing benefits.
The proposal, floated by President Obama and others to shift Social Security benefits to a “chained” Consumer Price Index by itself could cut monthly benefits for a typical single woman by $56 at age 80, says the National Women’s Law Center.
A comprehensive program to combat poverty in America is long overdue. It should start by insisting on no cuts in Social Security or Medicare, and move on to a permanent fix of our healthcare system by upgrading Medicare with full funding and an end to the creeping privatization, and expanding it to cover everyone.