Even Your Cranky Uncle Can Be Thankful for Social Security

Roger Hickey

Picture everyone sitting around the table this Thanksgiving and the cranky old uncle lobs a political hot potato at you designed to push the conversation to a shouting match. He may be an inflammatory liberal or a conservative grouch, he may even try to have a Tea Party on top of your apple pie. The only sure thing is that it happens just about every Thanksgiving.

But you’re in luck this year because there is a political issue that almost every American, regardless of party, age, or race agrees on according to a new poll: no one wants to see cuts to Social Security.

Whether that crotchety family member thinks you ought to cut taxes up the wazoo or raise taxes on the rich, eight out of ten people think Social Security should be left alone by Washington, DC. According to the poll by the national firm Lake Research Partners, Democrats opposed Social Security cuts by a margin of 83 percent, Republicans by 82 percent, Independents by 78 percent and Tea Party members by a whopping 74 percent. These poll results are right in line with new polling from the Wall St. Journal, CNN, AARP and others. Even incoming Republican Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s Election Day poll showed that two thirds of Americans oppose Social Security cuts.

The reason for this is simple–about one out of every four households, or 53.4 million Americans, receive Social Security benefits. So someone at your Thanksgiving table may very well get a monthly Social Security check or live with someone who does. Your baby boom relatives are really worried about affording retirement– ever. You can ask how they’d feel having their hard-earned Social Security check slashed. If you ask this question, you’re also going to find out that most folks believe politicians in Washington should leave everyone’s Social Security alone.

Several new commissions with fancy names in Washington, D.C. are putting Social Security on the table to carve up like your turkey. But don’t let the fancy names fool you. These commissions talk about cutting benefits and raising the retirement age as being “necessary sacrifices.” You can be sure the “sacrifices” are not going to be made by the people serving on those commissions, since they are stacked with people with desk jobs that don’t involve long hours of physical labor. To add insult to injury, many of those proposing to take your Social Security found nearly a trillion dollars to bail out the Wall Street banks.

I am going to be spending my Thanksgiving in Kentucky where, about 844,573 retired workers, people with disabilities and survivors receive Social Security, which they use to pay their bills each month. Social Security actually pumps $9,926,000 into the state economy. It is no wonder that this seems to be the one issue that 80 percent of Americans can agree on.

So this year at the Thanksgiving table when “cousin Marvin” tries to pick a political fight, steer the conversation to Social Security and you can enjoy your mashed potatoes in the peace of near unanimous agreement.

While you’re at it, why don’t you also let everyone know about a National Call Congress Day on November 30th, where they can let their members of Congress know that they’d better not ever vote to cut anyone’s Social Security benefits or they may lose their next election by about 80 percent.

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