Wednesday, January 18, 2023

Prime Target

The Independent reports

Republican Representative Rick Allen of Georgia defended his position on raising the age when seniors can receive Social Security by saying people want to work longer.

Advocacy group Social Security Works posted a video of Mr Allen walking through the tunnels of the House of Representatives where he was asked about why he wants to raise the age of retirement.

“You know, that’s interesting that you ask that question,” he said. “People come up to me, they actually want to work longer.”

Currently, senior citizens collect Social Security and Medicare at the age of 65. But some have proposed the idea of raising the age to 67.

The person asking him the question asked if that proposal was on the table at the moment.

“Well, you know, if people want to work longer, maybe you need an incentive to do it,” Mr Allen said. “That’s the way to solve every one of these problems, by the way, and actually grow wealth at the same time.”

Mr Allen sits on the powerful House Energy and Commerce Committee, which deals with health care legislation. Mr Allen’s remarks come as Republicans took control of the majority in the House of Representatives earlier this month.

Responding to Allen's comments, at 1:39 of the video below, The Young Turks' Ana Kasparian remarks

When they say they want to raise the retirement age, don't be tricked into thinking that this isn't cutting Social security. It's just raising the retirement age because Americans are living much longer- except that's actually not true. The life expectancy of Americans has actually been going down in recent years and life expectancy in the United States is comparable to that of people living in Cuba.


To paraphrase a old saying, nobody died and made me a fact checker. However, if I had to rate the accuracy of the latter statement of Kasparian on a scale of 0 to 10 (with D. Trump at 0.5 and G. Santos at 0.0), I'd give it an 8.

Life expectancy in the USA had been rising until it declined in 2020. It declined further in 2021, and appears to have remained the same in 2022.  Presumably, that is due to SARS-CoV-2. However, we can be sure neither that it will rebound after the pandemic vanishes nor that there will not be repeated coronaviruses into the indefinite future. Moreover, in 2021 "life expectancy at birth began to rebound in most comparable countries while it continued to decline in the U.S.," suggesting that a decline in life expectancy is not inevitable after the peak of a major health crisis has passed.

Worse even than being "comparable," life expectancy at time of birth in 2021 was 2.9 years lower in the USA than in Cuba. That may be unsurprising because the single-payer health care system in Cuba is superior provides significantly greater benefits than provided in the USA, with its largely market-based system. Undoubtedly unsurprising is the lower age at death in the USA than in other, comparable developed nations.

The fallacy that Americans are living dramatically longer lives than ever before is central to the effort to cut Social Security and Medicare benefits.  On January 12, House of Representatives Speaker Kevin McCarthy, fresh off selling his soul and more to be elected to the position, vowed "one thing I will tell you, as Republicans, we will always protect Medicare and Social Security. We will protect them for the next generation going forward. But we are going to scrutinize every single dollar spent."

Hold on to your wallet.  It may be a nod and a wink, but when politicians threaten to protect Social Security and Medicare, it means the programs are on their hit list.  The theory is that the programs are on the cusp of  bankruptcy (they're not) so the only way to "protect" them is to reduce benefits, raise the eligibility age, lower the cost-of-living adjustments, or means-testing benefits. The "scrutinize every single dollar spent" makes it obvious. (McCarthy is not talking about the defense budget or corporate giveaways.)

So when Republicans balk at raising the debt ceiling, it's not only to try to bring the nation's economy to its knees. It's a continuation of a decades-long effort to uproot the social safety net and if the elderly are among its casualties, so be it.


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