By State Representative, Leon D. Young
Last week, Social Security celebrated its 78th anniversary. And, there is a lot to celebrate.
For nearly eight decades, Social Security has provided seniors with a secure retirement income and prevented retirees from falling into poverty.
Social Security lifts more than 21 million Americans out of poverty, including over 14 million seniors. This federal program is doing just what it was designed to do.
Let’s flash forward a bit from the enactment of the Social Security Act (1935).
In the 1960s, conservative Republicans were strongly opposed to Medicare.
The GOP naysayers included the ranks of prominent party members such as: Barry Goldwater, George H.W. Bush and Ronald Reagan. Mr. Reagan even went so far as to predict that “If you don’t [stop Medicare] and don’t do it, one of these days you and I are going to spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it once was like in America when men were free.”
As we all know, Medicare is a government sponsored health care program that provides health coverage to virtually all of the nation’s elderly and a large share of people with disabilities.
Today, Medicare is a beloved federal program that seniors are passionate about preserving. If history tells us anything, the GOP’s ardent opposition to the Affordable Health Care Act is nothing new and is totally in keeping with its reactionary political mindset of the past. Since Obamacare became the law of the land in 2010, Republicans have tried to repeal this comprehensive expansion of health care coverage at least 40 times.
Moreover, one can argue that the 2012 presidential election was a referendum, or sorts, on Obamacare and the American public gave a ringing endorsement to this policy approach.
But, the GOP refuses to accept this reality. Some Republican lawmakers have suggested that, unless money is stripped from the Affordable Care Act, Republicans should hold up passage of a stopgap spending bill that must pass before Oct 1 to prevent a federal government shutdown.
I would be the first to admit that the president’s health care solution (Obamacare) is far from the perfect solution. In fact, it completely drops the ball in terms of extending dental health care coverage for adults, which means that too many underprivileged Americans will simply have to forgo this vital health care protection.
America prides itself as being the leader of the industrialized world. Yet, 55 million of its citizens lacked basic health care coverage, prior to the Affordable Health Care Act. The GOP has been relentless in its opposition to universal health care and adamantly insists that this law now provides the slippery slope that will eventually lead to socialized medicine. Where have we heard this bogus assertion before? One thing is certain, however, the GOP just doesn’t get it!!!