Paul Jaffe: Denney, LaMalfa, Social Security and Medicare | TheUnion.com

Paul Jaffe: Denney, LaMalfa, Social Security and Medicare

Paul Jaffe
Other Voices

Social Security is at stake in the upcoming midterm elections: the GOP and Rep. Doug LaMalfa want to reduce Social Security benefits by raising the age of retirement, increasing beneficiary contributions to Medicare (co-pays), and other cuts to Social Security.

This despite the fact that many seniors in our district depend upon Social Security retirement benefits for their sole or essential income, and current workers derive significant protection from income loss due to disability or death.

District 1 citizens rely on Social Security: For example, a third of seniors depend on monthly retirement benefits for their sole income and three in five derive at least one-half of monthly income; not to mention the 90 percent of workers, covered by Social Security, who have significant protection from income loss due to Social Security disability and death insurance.

A little considered fact about Social Security is how it protects current workers and their families from income loss due to disability or death (survivor's benefits); for example, 95 percent of covered workers in our District have the equivalent of a $725,000 life insurance policy through their social security account. These income protections must be protected, our neighbors and fellow residents in the District depend on them.

My wish for LaMalfa is to renounce the irresponsible cuts to Social Security proposed by the Republican Party. Workers pay into Social Security month-in and month-out — workers pay for the benefits through a lifetime of work and they are not a government giveaway — La Malfa should understand who the money belongs to … and it's not the government.

The Republican Party and Congressman LaMalfa also continue to press for the privatization of Social Security, expressing the policy preference for individuals to manage their own Social Security account and make investment choices as many people now do in their 401(K) plans at work. The GOP asserts that individuals with Social Security accounts can achieve higher rates of investment returns if they are tasked with picking and choosing among various investment alternatives.

Recommended Stories For You

The privatization initiative was previously championed by President Bush after his re-election in 2004, and later rejected by the American people and Congress when a majority concluded the savings invested in Social Security are too essential to the overall stability of the economy to allow the funds to be invested by individuals in markets that inherently go up and down.

The Republicans say individuals with the assistance of Wall Street can beat the market and get better rates of return on their money than Social Security provides. However, the economic meltdown of 2008, in which many lost a lifetime's savings in the stock market or their home, proves the degree of risk inherent in people managing their own Social Security monies. Social Security benefits must be available if people need them; the funds are the bedrock savings of the American people.

An aggressive approach to empowering individuals through privatizing Social Security (supported by Wall Street due to the substantial fees charged for financial services) threatens to destabilize the entire U.S. economy if we suffer another financial debacle like 2008, let alone a more massive financial destruction like that caused by the Great Depression. Markets will always be vulnerable to shock and ruin, we should never bet another financial disaster cannot occur.

The Republicans promised in 2016 no reduction to Social Security or Medicare. However they have gone back on their promise: the GOP and Speaker of the House Paul Ryan say that entitlements like Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid must be cut or Social Security will go bankrupt over the next 15 to 20 years.

Adding to the GOP's call to cut Social Security is our swelling budget deficit which has soaring due to the lowest rate of tax payments to the U.S. Treasury in decades. What's happening with the tax payments? Since passage of the recent GOP tax cuts, which primarily went to wealthy Americans and corporations, the U.S. Treasury's tax receipts have plunged to the lowest rate in decades.

Democratic Party candidate Audrey Denney, LaMalfa's opponent for the California 1st Congressional seat, proposes no reduction to Social Security as well as the continuation of the Medicaid program in California.

Voters should consider the coming election a referendum on whether or not Social Security and Medicare should be cut as LaMalfa proposes or maintained and protected going forward, as Denney supports.

Paul Jaffe lives in Grass Valley.