Seniors delivered for Joe Biden — now he must deliver for us
Senior voters helped deliver a decisive victory for President Joe Biden last November. That’s why I did 110 virtual events during this campaign. Now, Biden must deliver for seniors and make our interests, including expanding Social Security, a top priority in his new administration.
Biden campaigned on expanding Social Security, lowering drug prices, and addressing the COVID-19 nursing home crisis. For Biden, delivering for seniors means following through on his campaign promises.
At campaign stops across the country this past fall, Biden almost always made sure to denounce Donald Trump’s relentless attacks on our Social Security system. Biden would then promise to protect Social Security and “…increase benefits for millions of seniors,” while noting it was vital for working people to live a dignified retirement.
Biden’s outreach to seniors worked. As a Biden 2020 surrogate, I saw it first hand: More seniors than ever couldn’t wait to vote for Joe! And in the end, we delivered. Biden won a higher percentage of seniors nationally than Hillary Clinton did in 2016.
Biden also won seniors outright in the key swing state of Michigan and performed better with seniors than Clinton in Pennsylvania (2016, 2020), Georgia (2016, 2020), and Arizona (2016, 2020) — all states that were absolutely critical to securing his win.
So what does delivering for seniors look like? First, Biden must clean house at the Social Security Administration (SSA) by removing Social Security Commissioner Andrew Saul and Deputy Commissioner David Black. Saul and Black have carried out Trump’s bidding to undermine our Social Security system and union bust the SSA workforce. Early signs at SSA have been encouraging, but Social Security won’t be safe until Saul and Black are gone.
Biden must also make it a priority to expand Social Security benefits. The plan he ran on would increase Social Security benefits across the board, switch yearly benefit adjustments to the Consumer Price Index for the Elderly, add a caregiver credit, finally make the wealthy contribute their fair share, and restore Social Security to long-range actuarial balance.
Delivering for seniors also means improving Medicare. Steps Biden should take include allowing Medicare to negotiate for lower drug prices (one of his signature campaign promises), lowering the eligibility age to 60, and adding hearing, vision and dental benefits.
First and foremost, though, Biden must get the pandemic under control and end the nursing home crisis. That, of course, includes implementing a robust vaccine plan. Biden must also ensure that nursing homes have the resources they need to fight the virus.
Nursing home residents and workers make up 34 percent of all COVID-19 deaths in the United States. Our country has been treating older Americans as disposable for far too long. Biden must break that trend.
Biden campaigned on rejecting corporate immunity for nursing home corporations, so that families and residents harmed can seek accountability and justice. He also laid out a plan to enhance protections against wrongful evictions from long-term care facilities and increase access to home and community-based care. Those promises must be kept.
Delivering for seniors by expanding Social Security, improving Medicare, and addressing the pandemic benefits us all, especially the working class. The COVID-19 pandemic has made Social Security and Medicare more important than ever, and it’s time to strengthen these essential programs.
Democrats now control the Senate, House, and presidency. Biden has a mandate to enact bold reforms and legislation that delivers for seniors. We’re counting on him to use it.
Jon “Bowzer” Bauman is President of Social Security Works PAC.
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