President Franklin D. Roosevelt would be “fighting mad” about conservative attempts to undermine Social Security, says his grandson, Jim Roosevelt on the first episode of our new podcast — released this week.  Roosevelt says that FDR would not only be mad.  “We’d see him actively pressuring Congress” to support Social Security — and working to elect lawmakers who champion his legacy program — in the face of myriad proposals to cut and privatize it.

The podcast, “You Earned This,” debuted on multiple platforms — including Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and Amazon/Audible. It is available to listen and download for free. Each episode covers a single topic with a single guest. Because we know that listeners have a limited amount of time, this podcast is designed to be “bite-sized.”  Episodes are no longer than 15 minutes each, making for a brisk and brief listening experience! 

In this episode, Jim Roosevelt says that the Social Security Administration (SSA), which is responsible for administering benefits for 71 million people, cannot be expected to service the public properly without adequate funding. Customers have experienced long wait times on the 800 phone line, field office closures, and extended delays in adjudication of disability claims hearings — all due to a 17% cut (adjusted for inflation) in operating budget since Tea Party Republicans took control of the House beginning in 2011.

“First of all the budget cuts that took place at the time of the Tea Party really devastated the workforce. (Employee morale has suffered) because if you tell people you have this huge amount of work to do and we’re not going to give you anybody to help you do it, they get very dissatisfied.”

Roosevelt expressed optimism that the putative new SSA Commissioner, former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley, would advocate for more funding and make other improvements to shore up customer service.  O’Malley is expected to be confirmed by the full Senate on December 18th.

Roosevelt criticizes Republicans who propose to raise the retirement age for Social Security to 69 or 70, including presidential candidate, Nikki Haley. Roosevelt says her intention to cut benefits for people now in their 20s and 30s — including her adult children — is plain “crazy.” 

“Our kids (are) not going to have a lower cost of living than retirees do today. Social Security already is an adequate benefit, but not a generous benefit. In fact, if anything, it should be increased, not cut for future generations.” – Jim Roosevelt, 12/14/23  

He also rails against Republican proposals for a fiscal commission to decide the fate of Social Security (and Medicare), including House Speaker Mike Johnson’s pledge to create such a commission. Those commissions, Roosevelt tells us, are “a black box” designed to let individual lawmakers off the hook for proposing to cut seniors’ earned benefits.

He also reminisced about conversations he had as a teenager with grandmother, Eleanor Roosevelt. (Jim Roosevelt was born after his grandfather, FDR, passed away.)  He describes the former first lady as a passionate advocate for women’s rights, including women’s retirement security. Eleanor, he says, was equally dedicated to preserving Social Security so that, in the words of FDR, “no damn politician” could ever take it away.

Our next guest is NCPSSM senior health policy expert, Anne Montgomery, breaking down the Disadvantages of Medicare Advantage. That episode will be released on December 21st!

To listen to the “You Earned This” podcast, click here.