The question has been asked so many times over the decades – one that the Old Man asks so very often: ‘Why would anyone vote against their own interest’? In many cases, even against their own existence. No matter what answer is given, none of them makes sense. Take a look at this latest election.
- Three states just voted to ‘give up’ their Medicaid expansion program: Arkansas (215,000), Kentucky (640,000 PDF) and West Virginia (400,000+ PDF). That’s a total of 1.5 million who are benefiting from the program. Yet these three states voted Republican – the Party that is demon(ly)-obsessed with taking away their healthcare. Why?
- Four more red states voted to increase the minimum wage: South Dakota, Nebraska, Alaska and Arkansas. Then they elected Republicans who are hell-bent on keeping the wage at and below poverty levels. Why?
- Two other red states shot down a draconian “personhood” amendment (North Dakota and Colorado) put forth by Republicans – right after marking their ballot to elect those same Republicans. Why?
- In Massachusetts voters elected a Republican Governor, then scrolled down to the “Amendments” section of the ballot and voted for paid sick leave – an issue Republicans consider disgusting. Why?
- Then there are the deep, deep red states of Texas and Ohio. Voters upheld a fracking ban in those states and then voted for the Party who mostly governs for the oil and gas industry, and, as such, want open fracking. Why?
Maybe worst of all in voting against their own interest are the seniors in this country.
Before the election two days ago there were 22 red states. Three more were added last Tuesday, making half of the country’s states controlled by Republicans. And seniors were the major force in making all these state red: They “were a dominant part of the GOP’s nationwide coalition …the strongest supporters of Republican candidates”.
So how, you may ask, does this make them the worst in voting against their own interest? For the answer, follow the logic.
Every single senior (49,436,000) is on Medicare. 42,295,000 of them are on Social Security / SSI. The latter is the major source of income for most seniors. 22% of married couples and about 47% of unmarried persons rely on Social Security for 90% or more of their income.
Red states, based on elected officials in Washington, having one million-plus seniors are Florida, Georgia,
Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and Washington. Several more have nearly one million.
Now to the guts of the problem.
Republicans have fought Medicare from the very beginning, with nearly half voting against it in 1965:
- Bob Dole (1995): “I was there, fighting the fight, one of the twelve, voting against Medicare because in 1965 we knew it wouldn’t work.”
- Newt Gingrich (1995): “Now we didn’t get rid of it in round one because we don’t think that that’s politically smart and we don’t think that’s the right way to go through a transition. But we believe it’s going to wither on the vine.”
- Dozens of other Republicans joined Dole and Gingrich in the fight to kill Medicare.
- Senator Carl Curtis: “[I]t is not needed. It is socialism. It moves the country in a direction which is not good for anyone, whether they be young or old. It charts a course from which there will be no turning back… It is not only socialism – it is brazen socialism.”
- House Majority Leader Dick Armey: “We need to wean our old people away from Medicare.”
- Barry Goldwater: “Having given our pensioners their medical care in kind, why not food baskets, why not public housing accommodations, why not vacation resorts, why not a ration of cigarettes for those who smoke and of beer for those who drink?”
- Ronald Reagan (before Presidency): “If you don’t [write your senator in opposition to King-Anderson], this program, I promise you, will pass just as surely as the sun will come up tomorrow, and behind it will come other federal programs that will invade every area of freedom as we have known it in this country, until one day… we will wake to find that we have socialism. And if you don’t do this and I don’t do this, one of these days we 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.”
- Republicans Have Voted Against Protecting, Strengthening Medicare Nearly 60 Times [from 1999 to 2009].
- Republicans have engaged on a never-ending war on Medicare.
Republicans have fought Social Security from the very beginning, with more than half voting against it in 1935:
- Republicans fought Social Security from the very beginning in 1935.
- Republicans have been waging a war on Social Security for decades: “Instead of being a proud day for America, as Reagan suggested, April 20, 1983 has become a day of shame. The Social Security Amendments of 1983 laid the foundation for 30 years of federal embezzlement of Social Security money. The payroll tax hike of 1983 generated a total of $2.7 trillion in surplus Social Security revenue. This surplus revenue was supposed to have been saved and invested in marketable U.S Treasury bonds that would be held in the trust fund until the baby boomers began to retire in about 2010. But not one dime of that money went to Social Security.”
- The new Senate Leader-elect wants to privatize Social Security – the first step to kill the program.
- Republicans budget will fast-track Social Security cuts (PDF).
- President Bush’s plan would [have] actually drain all the money out of the Social Security trust fund, essentially destroying Social Security
- Remember the “Fix the Debt” and “Business Roundtable” group of corporate CEO’s who wanted to “fix” Social Security? Who have more than $100 million in their retirement fund? And also have the Republican Party in their pocket that was running interference for them during the debates? Maybe the phrase “shared sacrifice” will ring a bell.
- It’s only near election time that Republicans soften their position on Social Security.
Seniors have moved from Democratic ranks to Republicans over the past seven years, with “an outright preference for the Republican Party since 2010.” 48% of seniors now vote Republican. That’s roughly 25 million seniors who vote against their own interest. As I said to a relative of mine who is one of those 25 million, “They don’t want to just bite the hand that feeds them; they want to chew it completely off!”