(photo from www.warnockforgeorgia.com)

While it’s true that a runoff win by Senator Raphael Warnock would give the Democrats a 51-50 majority, there is more at stake for voters – especially seniors.  They need Senator Warnock to remain in the Senate to fight for their vital Social Security and Medicare benefits – and to continue advocating for lower prescription drug prices.  That’s why the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare has endorsed Rev. Warnock for re-election as a “champion for seniors.”

He proved this during his first two years in office. Senator Warnock introduced legislation to cap seniors’ out-of-pocket drugs costs at $2,000 per year and limit insulin costs to $35 a month.  Both provisions became part of the Inflation Reduction Act, which became law in late summer. He has been a fierce advocate for expanding Medicaid in Georgia, one of the holdout states that has refused to implement coverage for lower-income workers. Expanding Medicaid improves health outcomes for everyone – especially communities of color.

Mindful of the need to boost seniors’ benefits and put Social Security on a sound financial path, Senator Warnock cosponsored the Social Security Expansion Act. During the fall campaign, he pledged to fight GOP efforts to privatize seniors’ earned benefits. Senator Warnock is – and will continue to be – a key defender of Social Security and Medicare.

Perhaps at no other time since the Great Depression have seniors’ earned benefits been so crucial. The pandemic took a heavy toll on seniors – both physically and financially. Before and during this crisis, Social Security and Medicare have functioned as social insurance lifelines, which is, of course, their original purpose.

Without Social Security, the poverty rate in Georgia would be a whopping 44%.  For Black and Latino seniors – who are especially reliant on Social Security for income – the poverty rate would approach or exceed 50% without their earned benefits.

Despite the crucial role that Medicare and Social Security play in seniors’ lives, Republicans insist that both programs must be “reformed” – which really means cut and privatized.  High-profile members of Herschel Walker’s party, including Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL) and Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) have proposed subjecting seniors’ earned benefits to an up or down vote every five years and placing both programs at the mercy of annual budget battles. Herschel Walker campaigned with Sen. Scott in October and would be a rubber stamp for any GOP plans to undermine Social Security and Medicare.

Sen. Rick Scott (L) and Herschel Walker (R)

Republicans have been crystal clear about their intentions. The House Republican Study Committee’s 2022 budget blueprint called for raising the retirement age to 70 (a huge benefit cut), reducing COLAs, and cutting benefits for “high earners,” an odd characterization since the cuts eventually could extend to workers earning $40,000 per year.

Seniors have suffered enough during the pandemic and post-pandemic economy. With inflation running over 7% this year and health care costs soaring, they depend on their Social Security and Medicare benefits now more than ever. Older Georgians need Democrats in Congress to continue fighting for lower prescription drug prices and better access to affordable health care. Voters should reject the pernicious policies of Hershel Walker’s party, which seems to care more about their wealthy and powerful patrons than working people – and re-elect Senator Raphael Warnock.