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The Middle Class At A Time Of Record Inequality

April 04, 2013 12:51 pm ET
The President's budget will be released on Wednesday, stirring debate about potential changes to Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security -- including benefit cuts that would appease Congressional Republicans while saddling Democratic lawmakers with the blame. Meanwhile, new polling shows that "protecting the wealthy instead of the middle class" is a top reason why Americans dislike GOP lawmakers. Go on offense by showing why cutting benefits is bad policy and bad politics.

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CORE MESSAGE

With everyone but the rich falling behind, a vote to cut our Social Security and Medicare benefits is a vote to shrink the middle class.

Connect: Our national budget is more than just numbers. It's about the kind of country we want as Americans.

Define: With the rich getting richer and everyone else falling behind, Republicans in Congress keep trying to cut the health care and retirement benefits that ordinary Americans count on.

Illustrate: They want to cut more and more out of Social Security every year and turn Medicare into a little coupon that leaves seniors holding the bill.

Discredit: Cutting Social Security and Medicare benefits takes money out of seniors' pockets. That takes customers with money to spend out of our stores, dragging the economy down for all of us.

Remind: The richest 1% already got the gains of the economic recovery while everyone else's incomes dropped.

Lead: The choice is clear: grow the middle class for a stronger America, or shrink it by cutting their Social Security and Medicare benefits.


ATTACKS AND RESPONSES


CLAIM: "Moving to chained CPI is a good policy fix for Social Security."
RESPONSE:

  • "Chained CPI" is a benefit cut, plain and simple.
  • Social Security and veterans benefits are supposed to be modestly increased every year to account for the rising cost of living, but the idea behind chained CPI is that those COLAs should be even smaller than they are now -- an idea experts have discredited.
  • If anything, the COLAs should be getting bigger, not smaller, so they're more accurate. Seniors need more health care than everybody else -- and they can't just substitute a triple bypass surgery for a double bypass to save money.
  • The good policy fix we need for our Social Security system is to close the tax loophole that lets the richest Americans pay a lower rate than middle-class families. Americans should be paying the same rate for the same guarantee -- an idea with overwhelming support.


CLAIM: "Moving to chained CPI is a good money-saver."
RESPONSE:

  • "Chained CPI" means cutting the Social Security benefits that people have earned their entire working lives.
  • Chained CPI is a stealth tax hike on middle class Americans, with the biggest tax increase on people making between $30,000 and $40,000 a year. Their increase would be almost six times that faced by millionaires.
  • If our lawmakers really want to save money, we should cut waste like Pentagon pork, corporate tax loopholes, and Big Oil subsidies. Even cutting a few special tax breaks for the wealthy and corporations would save us $1 trillion.
  • That's why President Obama and Democratic lawmakers in Congress had promised that Social Security would be protected and kept off the table. Vice President Biden even promised that he'd "flat guarantee" no cuts to Social Security. Let's help them keep their promise.


ATTACK: "Medicare spending is out of control."
RESPONSE:

  • This is an attack on Medicare -- a foundation of health and financial security for hardworking Americans who should be able to retire in dignity -- that doesn't get the facts right.
  • Actually, Medicare spending has slowed down -- so much that projected costs have fallen by more than $500 billion since 2010. Costs are growing more slowly than private insurance, too.
  • No wonder -- Medicare is vastly more cost-effective and controls costs better than private insurance, which has administrative overhead that can be up to ten or more times higher than Medicare's 2%.
  • The real problem is costs in the larger health care system. Medicare is a solution. As a cost-control leader and innovator that private insurers often follow, Medicare should keep leading the way in getting more value for our health care dollars.
  • Privatizing Medicare means shifting costs onto seniors and people with disabilities -- like the House GOP budgets would do.


ATTACK: "Letting Medicare bankrupt the country is stealing from our children and grandchildren."
RESPONSE:

  • Children are not better off if their parents and grandparents are worse off.
  • It isn't pro-family to force children into choosing between taking care of their own kids or their parents and grandparents. Taking responsibility and caring for one another and our families is a core American value.
  • Along with Social Security, Medicare is the foundation of Americans' health and financial security, not to mention a far more efficient way of securing it than the private sector. In these tough and uncertain times, we need to protect these programs more than ever.
  • We do need to deal with the system-wide health care costs problem, which Medicare is already doing. Medicare can and should do more to contain outrageous health care prices, but ending Medicare as we know it will make that impossible and increase everyone's health costs.


ATTACK: "We should raise the eligibility age for Medicare."
RESPONSE:

  • Raising the Medicare age is the world's worst 2-for-1 deal. It would cost Americans $2 for every $1 it saves Congress.
  • Forcing seniors to wait longer for Medicare means taking them out of the most efficient system and pushing them into wasteful and costly private insurance pools -- driving up costs for everyone.
  • If you're a wealthy politician who doesn't worry about affording health care for himself or needing to retire after a lifetime of manual labor, sure, it's no big deal to you.
  • But if you're serious about fiscal responsibility, this leaves us with a health care system that provides less value and higher costs for everyone -- the opposite of what we want.

We develop messaging by aggregating, analyzing and distilling polling, tested messaging, and expert recommendations, and monitoring the media to identify what is and isn't working. See here for some of the experts and organizations we draw on.


 


Posted in - Health Care - Budget - Taxes - Economy - Seniors - Jobs

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