September Update from SOAR Director Julie Stein

Social Security – What’s Open and Honest Behind Closed Doors?

In a September 2019 town hall meeting in Emmet County, Iowa, U.S. Senator Joni Ernst complained, openly, that groups like SOAR are making her job more difficult than she would like. 

Regarding the future of Social Security, Senator Ernst said, "We do need to sit down behind closed doors, so we’re not being scrutinized by this group or the other, and just have an open and honest conversation.”  “The minute you say we need to address Social Security, the media is hammering you, the opposing party is hammering you — there goes granny over a cliff.”  Senator Ernst continued, “We know that there is a point in time when we as Congress will have to address the situation, and I think it’s better done sooner rather than later, to make sure that we shored up that system.”

When you hear the words, “shore(d) up that system,” and “behind closed doors” – do you get the sense that Senator Ernst wants to expand the benefits of Social Security to more Americans?  Do you think Senator Ernst wants to figure out a way for future generations of Americans to be able to retire with dignity?

Or, are you getting flashbacks to contract negotiations from your working years when management wanted to have closed-door talks so they could raid our pension or increase workers’ healthcare contributions?  Do you get the sense, like me, that Senator Ernst believes Social Security is an entitlement and not something Americans have earned (even though we certainly have)? 

There is a reason Social Security is arguably the most popular legislative achievement in our history. 

For many Americans, particularly widowed women, Social Security is the last thing between living with some dignity and absolute poverty.  Social Security is a financial investment made by American workers held in trust to assure that retirees, the elderly, people with disabilities, or the children and families of deceased workers will not be abandoned by the richest nation on earth. 

If Senator Ernst gets her way, Americans will be having tough conversations with their spouses around empty kitchen tables for years to come.  Not because Americans will be living longer lives, but let’s be open and honest here, they won’t be living the lives they anticipated if Social Security is destroyed.

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