Social Security is the key to Democratic Victory in 2020, yet Democrats ignore that issue. In fact, I have not seen a single news story about a Democratic Presidential candidate discussing Social Security.
Refusing to discuss Social Security is fatal for Democrats because Social Security is the most important issue for tens of millions of Americans. In fact, 63.572 million Americans depended on Social Security for all or part of their income in June 2019, the Social Security Administration (SSA) estimates.
In detail, 47.578 million retired workers and their family members, 5.931 family members of deceased people, and 10.064 million disabled people were receiving Social Security in June 2019. Thus Social Security is vital to 63.572 million voters, yet it does not appear on Democratic candidates’ radar.
Americans Need More Social Security
Moreover, Social Security is critical to older Americans’ survival. In fact, nearly nine out of ten Americans over 65 receive Social Security benefits, the SSA claims.
Specifically, Social Security benefits compose 33% of the income of older Americans, the SSA’s Social Security Fact Sheet estimates. Plus, 21% of older couples; and 45% of unmarried seniors, rely on Social Security for 90% of their income.
However, the average monthly Social Security retirement benefit was $1,471 in June 2019, the SSA calculates. Furthermore the average Social Security disability monthly benefit was $1,236 in June 2019.
Consequently, Social Security restricts millions of retirees’ income to $17,652 a year ($1,471 X 12). Plus, Social Security limits many disabled Americans incomes to $14,832 ($1,236 X 12) a year.
How Social Security Rips Off Women and Parents
Additionally, millions of Americans receive far less Social Security because of how they worked.
For instance, my mother only receives around $500 a month from Social Social Security because she did not work at a “job” for decades. Instead, she worked hard raising me and my brother and I, and helping my dad with his business.
Thus, millions of American parents; mostly women, spend their golden years in poverty for putting their children ahead of career. Disgustingly, Social Security rewards irresponsible parents who put careers ahead of children.
Social Security’s shortchanging of American parents and blatant discrimination against women are obvious to millions. Yet none of the ladies seeking the Presidential nomination talks about those problems.
How Democrats’ Failure to Talk Social Security created Trump
The failure to discuss Social Security and its shortcomings helped President Donald J. Trump (R-New York) beat Democrats in 2016.
To explain there were 51 million Americans over 65 in 2018, the Population Reference Bureau estimates. Moreover, 71% of Americans over 65 voted in the 2016 presidential election, the American Association of Retired People (AARP) estimates.
Thus, I estimate there were around 36.21 million voters with a strong interest in Social Security in 2016. Yet the Democratic nominee Hillary R. Clinton (New York) never raised the issue.
Predictably, 52% of Americans over 65 and 52% of Americans over 44 voted for Trump in 2016, the Roper Center estimates. Democrats do not discuss the most important issue in seniors’ lives and wonder why they lose.
How Democrats Beat Themselves in 2016
Notably, Trump won every state where registered Republicans outnumber Democrats, Brandon Susens estimates at Medium.
In addition, Clinton lost six states where Democrats outnumber Republicans. I think Democrats lost those states because they ignored the most important issue to likely voters in those regions.
To demonstrate, a typical “Red” Trump state is Kansas; which is 84.91% white, the World Population Review estimates. Trump won the Kansas popular vote by a margin of 56.2% in 2016, The New York Times estimates.
Importantly, Pew Research estimates the average age for white Americans is 58. Thus, the average member of the largest group in Kansas is just four years away from Social Security. To explain, Americans can begin receiving 75% of Social Security benefits at age 62, and 93.3% of Social Security retirement benefits at age 65.
How can Democrats be competitive in states like Kansas? If they refuse to address the biggest issue for many voters. Notably, I estimate Democrats needed to turn around 7% of the popular vote to get Kansas’s six Electoral College votes in 2016.
How Social Security Could Help Democrats Beat Trump
I suspect, Hillary could have increased her share of the vote in Kansas by 10% or 15%; and won the state, with a public pledge to fight for a Social Security increase. In fact, I think many older people wearing Make America Great Hats would have voted for Clinton, had she said “raise Social Security.”
Moreover, Democrats could portray any Republican criticism of that promise as an attack on Social Security. Additionally, Democrats could claim Trump if promoting Social Security cuts by attacking proposed Social Security increases.
Consequently, Democrats could take control the campaign narrative. All of Trump’s rhetoric about abortion, immigration, trade, Make America Great Again, guns, gays, China, etc. could be meaningless. Instead, all many Trump voters will hear is “Social Security increase.”
How Democrats could use Social Security to Destroy Trump
In fact, I believe a few TV commercials with Democrats promising to fight for more Social Security could neutralize the entire Trump phenomenon in many states.
To reach seniors with the message, all Democrats need to do is buy air time on network, cable, and over the air television. Networks, channels and stations will accept the ads because they are desperate for money. In fact, GroupM projects television ad revenue to fall by 5.4% in 2019, so Democrats will have no problem buying that air time.
To get their message across, Democrats can hire a few celebrities seniors; such as Morgan Freeman, William Shatner, George Takei, Sir Patrick Stewart, Oprah, Joe Namath, Melissa Gilbert, Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, Michelle Obama, Hillary Clinton, Dick van Dyke, Sally Field, and Tom Hanks, to repeat the Social Security mantra in ads. Then place those ads on the venues seniors are likely to watch, for instance, A&E, Fox News, ESPN, The History Channel, The Hallmark Channel, the NFL, NASCAR races, and CBS.
Social Security is Trump’s Achilles’ Heel
Finally, Democrats could create a batch of websites, videos, digital advertisements, Facebook pages, and editorial content exposing “Trump’s secret plan to destroy Social Security.”
Details of the plan are easy to find at conservative websites and think tanks. Simply, spread the details and link them to Trump. For instance, the Cato Institute’s scheme to divert Social Security taxes into investment accounts managed by Wall Street.
An effective dirty trick could be to distribute print versions of “Trump’s secret plan to destroy Social Security” at any place seniors gather. Trump rallies, doctors’ offices, Legion halls, medical clinics, and buffet restaurants for instance. Thus Democrats could reach the 34% of seniors, Pew estimates do not use the internet.
An easy way to brand Trump as an enemy of Social Security is to note all the campaigning he does for candidates opposed to Social Security like U.S. Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas). In addition, Democrats need to make Trump’s proposed cuts to Social Security and Medicare a major issue in 2020.
Thus, Democrats could use Social Security to destroy Trump and Republicans. If Democrats are aggressive, they could force Trump to choose between turning on anti-Social Security Republicans or losing.
How Democrats could Improve Social Security
I think there are four big Social Security reforms that could help Democrats win in 2020. I think expanding Social Security is a winning issue for Democrats, because a good offense is the best way to control the narrative and keep Republicans on the defensive.
First, create a minimum or base Social Security payment. Many Americans; including some self-employed people, receive far less Social Security because of their work history.
We can fix this problem by creating a minimum monthly Social Security payment for all people over 70. My suggestion for this minimum is $2,000 a month which could guarantee an individual income of $24,000 a year for all Senior citizens. Other possibilities could be $1,000 or $1,500 a month.
Furthermore, a Social Security minimum could address the growing pension crisis by providing a safety net to take the place of missing pension income.
How to Get More Money for Social Security
Second, eliminate the wage base limit on the Social Security tax. To explain, Uncle Sam only collects the 12.4% Social Security tax on the first $132,900 of a person’s income. Consequently, the world’s richest man, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos could pay just $16,479.60 a year in Social Security taxes despite his $109.2 billion fortune.
Third, apply Social Security taxes to all individual income, not just wages and salaries. Incredibly, Bezos could pay just $10,148.16 a year in Social Security taxes because Money claims he receives an $81,840 year salary at Amazon. However, if we tax all of Bezos’ fortune, Jeff could pay $13.54 billion a year in Social Security taxes.
Higher Social Security taxes could attract votes. Importantly, the Politico/Morning Consult survey estimates 76% of registered voters support higher taxes on the wealthy. In addition, the NPR/ PBS News Hour/Marist poll estimates 62% of Americans support a wealth tax on those making over $1 million a year.
Fourth consider a basic income like the presidential candidate Andrew Yang’s (D-New York) Freedom Dividend. To explain, Yang wants to give every American $1,000 a month in cash. In addition, Yang wants to use a Value-Added Tax (VAT) for basic income. Notably, a VAT; a consumption tax on all goods and services, could fund a major Social Security expansion.
Thus a Freedom Dividend could provide every Social Security recipient with a $1,000 month or $12,000 a year raise. Interestingly, the NPR/PBS News Hour/Marist Poll estimates 26% of Americans support a $1,000 a month basic income.
Why Democrats Ignore Social Security
Democrats’ refusal to capitalize on Social Security exposes a troubling reality. I think Democratic politicians refuse to discuss Social Security out of fear of wealthy special interests and their minions in the media.
Democrats refuse to discuss Social Security because increasing benefits will require raising taxes on the rich. Since the rich control the media and make most of the campaign donations, Democratic politicians ignore the issue.
For instance, so-called journalists and pundits refuse to cover or discuss Social Security to protect their paychecks. Correspondingly, media executives fear offending advertisers, the rich, and Wall Street financiers. For example, they could keep a Democrat who wants to discuss Social Security; instead of the wall, off cable news shows.
In addition, politicians who raise issues like Social Security; such as U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) are likely to face media attacks. For instance, The Washington Post; owned by Jeff Bezos, published four negative pieces about Sanders in two days in February 2019, Kevin Gosztola notes at Medium.
Even liberal media figures like Harper’s Magazine contributing editor Thomas Frank admit the bias at media outlets like The Wash Post. Notably, Frank writes “Of The Post stories that could be said to take an obvious stand (on Sanders), the negative outnumbered the positive roughly five to one,” in Harper’s.
Additionally, politicians fear losing campaign donations by proposing Social Security increases. Thus, many Democrats prefer losing elections to biting the hand that feeds them. Politicians that prefer pleasing the rich to winning deserve defeat.
Hopefully, Democrats will discover Social Security next year. If Democrats ignore Social Security in 2020 Trump will win.