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Debate This: I’m 57 and Want Medicare and Social Security for Future Generations

Blog by: Donna Smith, 10/4/12

If turning Medicare into a voucher program and cutting Social Security benefits is such a good idea, why not do it right away? Accordingly, if such schemes are politically toxic to older Americans, how is that young people seem to have no voice in the future existence of such programs? (Photograph: Charlie Neibergall/AP)
Published on Thursday, October 4, 2012 by Common Dreams

Donna Smith
by Donna Smith

The most troubling thing I heard last evening during the debate was that I could stop listening about the proposed changes to Social Security and Medicare if I was at or near retirement age.  I’m not that selfish.  I care that my children and grandchildren have those programs.  I care so much that I have devoted my personal and professional energy to improving and expanding a 'Medicare for All for Life' model and making sure Social Security remains the sure and safe program that it has been for decades. 

Hearing the selfishness implicit in telling voters who would not be immediately injured by slashing Social Security and turning Medicare into a voucher playground for corporate health insurance interests was surely a poor demonstration leadership.  What happened to the contrast between voting for the “Me First and Me Only” candidate and the candidate who said “We’re All in This Together?”  I was offended and outraged to have both of these men say that I could stop listening.  They may as well have said, “You’ve got yours, and you don’t care about your kids and grandkids, so vote for me. I won’t take away your safety net and you’ll be dead before the real harsh realities in jure your children and grandchildren.”

I wanted to hear someone stand up for Social Security and preserving it for the future generations.  I wanted to hear someone tackle the issue of how entitled the wealthy have become.  What I really hated to hear is that anyone presumes I would want to take what I have, retire and leave a mess to future generations.

I care a lot.  I want my kids and grandkids to have a better shot at life than I have had.  I want them to have secure retirements with dignity and a truly universal healthcare system that places the value of life over the value of another buck.  Wouldn’t it have been great if one of the candidates had launched into a discussion of a Robin Hood Tax?  How about taxing Wall Street for the damage done on Main Street?  How about acknowledging that I care and so do a lot of my near-retirement-age friends.  And we’d like to see a truly forward looking revenue source to protect and strengthen a way of life that honors how hard we have worked.

Selfishness is so unbecoming.  Our leaders should think about what they say and the broader implications of their words.  Arrogance is the greed of the spirit.  With all my heart and head and soul, I will care about those younger than myself until the day I die, and I know an awful lot of working class grandmothers and grandfathers just like me who will too. 

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Donna Smith is a community organizer for National Nurses United (the new national arm of the California Nurses Association) and National Co-Chair for the Progressive Democrats of America Healthcare Not Warfare campaign.

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