At a time of a lot of bad news, let me give you some very good news.
In November, a number of grass-roots organizations came together and presented Congress with a petition signed by more than 700,000 Americans. The petition was clear: Do not cut Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid. Do not balance the budget on the backs of some of the most vulnerable people in this country -- the elderly, the children, the sick and the poor.
And guess what happened?
Despite an intense and well-orchestrated effort from some of the most powerful special interests in the country;
Despite the expenditure of hundreds of millions of dollars from Wall Street billionaires and their lobbyists;
Despite support from almost every Republican in Congress and some Democrats;
Despite the never-ending carping from the corporate media that Social Security “is bankrupt” and that we need “entitlement reform;”
While the budget agreement to prevent government shut-downs and partially end sequestration was far weaker than I had wanted, it did not include any cuts to Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid. Why? Because hundreds of thousands of Americans across the political spectrum -- Democrats, Republicans, Independents -- were loud and clear! We made members of Congress an offer they couldn’t refuse. We told them that we were following what was going on in Washington and that if they cut these life and death programs they would face a heavy political price. We participated in a grass-roots political process -- and we made a difference.
The very good news is that we showed that when ordinary Americans stand together we can defeat some of the most powerful political forces in the country. The bad news is that our opponents are not going away, they are not giving up. They have huge financial resources at their disposal, hundreds of well-paid lobbyists and members of Congress prepared to do their bidding. And their agenda remains the same. Cut Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid. No increase in the minimum wage. No jobs program to lower unemployment. More tax breaks for the rich and large corporations.
Where do we go from here? How do we work together to demand that Congress creates national priorities that protect the interests of the middle class, and not just the millionaires and billionaires? How do we create an economy and governmental programs that work for working families and the most vulnerable Americans, and not just Wall Street and big corporations?
Please join me, Daily Kos and other coalition partners on Monday, January 27, 2014 at 8:00pm EST for a telephone conference discussion as to how we protect Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid and create an agenda that works for all Americans, and not just powerful special interests.
In 2014 we are not just playing defense. We are not just working to protect Social Security, but expand Social Security and other programs that a disappearing middle class desperately needs.
Please join me on Monday, January 27, 2014 at 8:00pm EST for a discussion on these issues and more. Thank you for all that you do.
U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders