If Elizabeth Warren is the new embodiment of the soul of the Democratic Party, as she is increasingly perceived to be following Noam Schreiber's lengthy profile and 2016 speculation, then the fight for strengthening Social Security might have reached a turning point to become, again, a key issue for Democrats.
Warren added her voice, full-throated, to the call for expanding Social Security in a floor speech Monday. In it, she slammed the Washington Post for an editorial published Monday that suggested the upcoming retirement crisis isn't real and that making sure seniors had secure retirements would take food away from children. Warren brought it:
No retirement crisis? Tell that to the millions of Americans who are facing retirement without a pension. Tell that to the millions of Americans who have nothing to fall back on except Social Security. There is a $6.6 trillion gap between what Americans under 65 are currently saving and what they will need to maintain their current standard of living when they hit retirement. $6.6 trillion—and that assumes Social Security benefits aren’t cut. Make no mistake: This is a crisis.She minced no words for the idea that cutting Social Security is necessary to get a budget deal.
The call to cut Social Security has an uglier side to it, too. The Washington Post framed the choice as more children in poverty versus more seniors in poverty. The suggestion that we have become a country where those living in poverty fight each other for a handful of crumbs tossed off the tables of the very wealthy is fundamentally wrong. This is about our values, and our values tell us that we don’t build a future by first deciding who among our most vulnerable will be left to starve.
The most recent discussion about cutting benefits has focused on something called the Chained-CPI. Supporters of the chained CPI say that it’s a more accurate way of measuring cost of living increases for seniors. That statement is simply not true. Chained CPI falls short of the actual increases in costs that seniors face, pure and simple. Chained CPI? It’s just a fancy way of saying cut benefits.And she rejected it:
The absolute last thing we should do in 2013 – at the very moment that Social Security has become the principal lifeline for millions of our seniors — is allow the program to begin to be dismantled inch by inch. [...] [W]e should be talking about expanding Social Security benefits—not cutting them.Watch the whole thing here:
Expanding Social Security isn't just a fetish of the far left and our hero, Elizabeth Warren. Sen. Mark Begich (D-AK), a freshman facing re-election in 2014, is a lead sponsor of the Harkin/Begich bill to make Social Security stronger. That's a good indication that this is where Democrats should be on the issue, where they've always been: behind protecting Social Security. It's the mainstream of public opinion, and should be the mainstream opinion of elected Democrats. Maybe Warren jumping enthusiastically on that bandwagon will put it back there.