National Committee urges moderators of Democratic debates to include question about Social Security

During the first round of Democratic debates on MSBNC in June, the candidates were not asked a single question about Social Security.  That’s somewhat mind-boggling given the 63 million Americans who currently rely on the program – and the pressing need to strengthen Social Security’s finances for the future. National Committee president Max Richtman has sent a letter to the moderators of the upcoming Democratic debates on CNN urging them to include the topic of Social Security:

“I am fairly certain that I was not alone in wondering why there was no question posed to the candidates about the future of our nation’s most successful income security program. [Social Security] deserves to be the focus of at least one meaningful question during the next Democratic Presidential Primary Debate this month.” – Max Richtman, president of the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare

In the letter to CNN’s Dana Bash, Don Lemon, and Jake Tapper, Richtman points out that there are almost as many workers covered by Social Security (175 million) as there are Americans registered to vote (188 million). He also reminds the moderators of the approximately $1.6 trillion in stimulus that Social Security provides state and local economies every year.

Richtman believes it is especially important for the candidates to state their views on Social Security given the need to address the program’s financial future.  He suggests a specific question for the moderators to pose during the debates that cuts to the core of that issue:

“Social Security will experience a funding shortfall in 2035 when the Trust Funds are scheduled to run out, triggering an automatic 20% benefit cut for all recipients.  There are many proposals and ideas to address the shortfall to ensure that full benefits continue to be paid now and well into the future.  As President, will you put forward a proposal to extend the program’s solvency and, if so, will you choose to do this using benefit cuts or revenue increases?”

The National Committee hopes that all of the Democratic candidates favor revenue increases over benefit cuts, and are willing to support legislation like the Social Security 2100 Act. Rep. John Larson’s bill would keep Social Security fully solvent for the rest of the century while modestly boosting benefits, mostly by asking the wealthy to pay their fair share in payroll contributions.

The line-up for the July 30th and 31st debates in Detroit will feature the same candidates as the June debates in Miami, with two exceptions.  Rep. Eric Swalwell dropped out of the race earlier this month, while Montana Governor Steve Bullock has earned a spot on the July debate stage.

Ten candidates will appear at each debate, based on a drawing tonight at 8 p.m. on CNN.   Politico reported today that CNN and the Democratic National Committee are working to avoid a “pile-up” of top-tier candidates during either debate by dividing participants into three tiers based on polling popularity, then drawing names randomly from each tier.

Regardless of how the candidates are divvied up, Max Richtman says voters deserve their “full consideration and discussion” of Social Security, a program that is “large, successful and beneficial to Americans and to our country’s economic engine.”


Read Max Richtman’s letter to the debate moderators here.