Richardt Stormsgaard: Is LaMalfa really one of us?
It has been approximately two decades since the Republican Party first began advocating for Wall Street operators replacing the Social Security and Medicare systems that have given Americans security and a chance of surviving their old age with dignity for many decades now.
In many red states up to 30 percent of retirees get more than 90 percent of their income from Social Security while in California it is about 15 percent of our aging population. And 60 percent of retirees get 50 percent or more from their Social Security.
Most people are rightly concerned about the fact that most Americans have seen their opportunities and standards of living decline over the last several decades. But the imminent decimation of our social safety net will cause us to enter a whole new phase that will make our present major problems with poverty and homelessness seem like the good old times, when huge numbers of elderly Americans will be scrambling to be fed and housed by relatives, churches, and various other humanitarian volunteer groups.
Projections for the next 20 years estimate an average of 10,000 people a day reaching their 65th birthday, often used as the beginning of one’s retirement. Between 1,500 and 3,000 Americans each and every day will be having very little income or heath insurance if the Republican Party, strongly supported by LaMalfa, succeeds in eliminating Social Security and Medicare.
The Trump Tax Plan has the two-fold purpose of giving permanent and huge tax cuts to the very wealthiest in our country while at the same time producing such huge future deficits that it will facilitate dismantling Social Security and Medicare just to keep the rest of our crumbling public infrastructure functioning a bit longer.
Top Republican politicians like Mitch McConnell, Paul Ryan, and Marco Rubio have all clearly stated that the huge tax cuts already made this year to Social Security and Medicare is just the precursor for the elimination of Medicare and Social Security. Their idea then is that millions and millions of low income earners can go shopping for pension managers who now, thanks to the current administration, don’t even have a legal obligation to have the best interest in mind for their customers, and is dishonest and ludicrous.
Most of the low-income earners can barely scrape by as it is on low wages with whole industries changing over to using independent contractors providing no health insurance or pension plans. Increasingly large companies are using part-time helpers also with no health insurance or pension plans.
In 1998, 59 percent of Fortune 500 companies offered a traditional pension plan for their employees. In 2015, it was down to only 20 percent. The companies still offering pension plans increasingly stop or freeze the accrual of benefits for plan participants. In order to counteract the problem that fewer and fewer companies provide pension plans, AARP along with Democrats have worked to create workplace retirement plans for small businesses set up through the states that would encourage workers to save up for private pension plans. But even those plans have been blocked by the Republicans in Congress. They really want individual Americans to be at the mercy of Wall Street retirement specialists for their individual pension needs and health insurance through private companies that can dictate all the rules without any government interference on behalf of the American people.
Ironically, it is voters in red states or rural areas generally who have the most to lose as our social safety is being dismantled. Yet, they vote for politicians that are committed to doing them immense harm.
Hopefully, these voters will realize that LaMalfa is not one of them, before it is too late.
Richardt Stormsgaard lives in Nevada City.
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