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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 1/22/20

Bernie/Biden Clash On Social Security Masks Real Differences

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"When I argued that we should freeze Federal spending, I meant Social Security as well. I meant Medicare and Medicaid. I meant veterans benefits. I meant every single solitary thing in the Government."

In this case, it is Ryan Grim who distorted Biden's record by taking it out of context. Biden was arguing that the budget sequestration under discussion should include all areas of the federal budget and not exclude the very popular and vital entitlement programs. In this same Congressional Record transcript, then-Senator Biden went on to say Social Security, ""is arguably the most important and most depended-upon program in the Federal Government."

Joe Biden suggested taking Social Security off of the Federal Budget. He wanted to protect the billions of dollars in surpluses it generated each year back then, surpluses that Congress spent every year to cover deficits in other areas of the budget.

What this manufactured controversy misses, however, it the very significant point that the thrust of this and so many of Biden's speeches always center on the middle-class. Biden has rarely ever focused on 45% of all Americans who live below middle-class economic standards.

This is the real distinction. Joe Biden is interested in maintaining stability in America by growing and sustaining the middle-class. Bernie Sanders, for his entire career, wants to bring hope and lift the structural economic burdens of every American family living within or below the middle-class. It is this focus and message that is beginning to resonate in places around America where Biden's message just doesn't carry. It is this focus on economic inclusion for all segments of society that scares the heck out of the wealthy elites.

Here is one example of Biden's middle-class messaging. In his 2018 speech at the Brookings Institute, also cited in the same PolitiFact article to which Krugman linked his opinion, Biden said, "Folks, we're here today for a simple reason: to talk about the middle class."

He later goes on to describe the plight of a factory worker to make his point:

"Folks in the middle class are in trouble. It's not just their perception. They are in trouble. Now it's all about taking care of the folks at the top" take that guy working on the assembly line making 51 grand. We don't talk about him anymore, by the way, if you notice politically. Not you, we in politics don't. And his wife is a hostess at a nice restaurant, she's making 28 [grand]. So they're making almost 80 grand and they've got 2 or 3 kids, and they can't make it if they live in Washington or New York or San Francisco."

No one can seriously argue that the middle-class is in trouble in "high living" places like San Francisco and New York City, but how does this limited message resonate with half of all Americans in far-flung places who make way less than $80,000 per year. Wouldn't they love to have the financial problems of these middle-class families? What they get instead is a conspiracy of silence from politicians in both parties who are beholden to the donor class. These are many of the same families that responded to Donald Trump in the 2016 campaign. He spoke directly to them and they love him for that.

The real question before us now is which Democratic candidate for President has the message and credibility to take back that momentum? Who has the spark to inspire the working poor to turn out and vote for the Democrat? It isn't the loyal base who needs to be motivated. They will "vote blue no matter who"(if we can believe that). It is the great mass of inactive voters we have been ignored for decades who will sweep Donald Trump and his Republican sycophants out of office if we offer them real change.

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Brian Lynch is a retired social worker who worked in the areas of adult mental health and child protection for many years. His work brought him into direct contact with all the major social issues of the day and many of our basic social (more...)

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