The Democratic National Committee has scheduled Sunday’s presidential candidate debate to conflict with Downton Abbey in the eastern time zone. This is not a senior-friendly move. Supporters of Bernie Sanders suspect that the Democratic debates have been limited to six in number and purposely scheduled at inconvenient times by party chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz in order minimize Sanders’ exposure and to help Hillary Clinton.
If that was the idea, it hasn’t entirely worked. Sanders’ fundraising is surging, and he has pulled within two percentage points of Clinton in Iowa polling. Meanwhile, the Republican candidates, benefiting from their numerous prime time debates — twelve will have occurred by the end of the primary campaign — have garnered the bulk of media attention.
We’ll give Sanders some exposure here at Common Sense for Seniors by taking a look at his positions on issues affecting seniors, concluding with a quick comparison to the positions of Ted Cruz as a representative Republican.
The positions Sanders takes at his website have great appeal to any progressive senior. The clickable headings tell the story: “Income and Wealth Inequality,” “Creating Decent Paying Jobs,” “Combating Climate Change to Save the Planet,” “Racial Justice,” “Fighting for LGBT Equality” — and the list goes on. He is advocating for policies that will strengthen the economy — how about “It’s Time to Make College Tuition Free and Debt Free” — and leave a better country to those who come after us.
Sanders would put Social Security on a sound financial footing by requiring everyone making more than $250,000 per year to pay the same percentage of their income into the system as those in the middle class and working families. He would also “expand benefits by an average of $65 a month; increase cost-of-living-adjustments; and lift more seniors out of poverty by increasing the minimum benefits paid to low-income seniors.” These reforms are sorely needed. I remember working with Sally down in Florida after her husband died and wondering how she was possibly going to get along on the $1,500 a month she would be receiving from Social Security.
The Sanders website doesn’t go into his plan to offer a single payer, Medicare-type plan for all Americans. That may be because everything at the website is paid for — that is, he has developed plans to pay for all the proposals that are there. He’s not there yet on the single payer proposal, but his plan is coming. Chelsea Clinton, who has begun to campaign for her mother, has mounted an attack on Sanders for his Medicare for all proposal that is nonsensical. Of course it would dismantle Obamacare and the health insurance system — these things would no longer be needed.
The positions Ted Cruz takes at his website are from another planet: “Restore the Constitution,” by which he means “rolling back the federal government;” “Second Amendment Rights;” “Secure the Border.” The heading “Life, Marriage, and Family,” sounds vaguely promising, but click on it and you will find that Cruz believes “marriage is a sacrament between one man and one woman.” He promises to instruct the Attorney General to investigate Planned Parenthood on “day one.”
Who could be against “Jobs and Opportunity,” another Cruz issue heading? But the diligent reader soon discovers that Cruz wants a 10% flat income tax and a “stable currency” — code for returning the United States to the gold standard. The Cruz gold standard proposal is keeping economists up at night. They don’t think much of his flat tax idea either. These are policies that would destabilize the economy and deepen the divide between the very wealthy and the rest of us.
So, once again, our review of websites and issue positions makes clear that for a common-sense senior, the Democratic candidate is preferable by a very wide margin. If only the Democrats would schedule additional debates at convenient times so that more voters would hear their message!