The Democratic National Committee Summer Meeting in San Francisco was a chance for 2020 presidential candidates from Corey Booker to Elizabeth Warren to pitch and mingle with DNC members. But it was also an opportunity for the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare to remind party members (and leaders) about the importance of seniors’ issues in next year’s elections. National Committee president Max Richtman carried that message to San Francisco, meeting with presidential contenders Julian Castro, Corey Booker, Amy Klobuchar, Tim Ryan, Andrew Yang, and Michael Bennett – and speaking at an event for the DNC Seniors Council.
“While the issues of health care reform and lowering prescription drug prices have been receiving their due consideration in many campaign events and related media coverage, Social Security, an equally important program for workers, retirees, the disabled and their families, has not yet been afforded the same level of attention from candidates.” – Max Richtman, NCPSSM president
In July, the National Committee sent letters to each of the major Democratic presidential candidates, imploring them to be “very proactive in raising this topic as frequently as possible when you meet with voters around the country.” After all, there are 188 million Americans registered to vote – and 175 million American workers covered by Social Security.
During the DNC Summer Meeting, Richtman also reminded each candidate that Social Security was conspicuously missing from the first two rounds of Democratic debates.
“I asked the candidates, ‘Did you notice that there wasn’t a single question about Social Security in the first two Democratic debates?’ That’s not right. I said, ‘Even if the moderators don’t ask a question about Social Security in September’s debate, bring it up, anyway.’”– Max Richtman
In advance of July’s Democratic debates, Richtman also sent a letter to CNN moderators Don Lemon, Dana Bash, and Jack Tapper:
“Is Social Security a vitally important American program? Yes. Does it deserve to be the focus of at least one meaningful question to be included during the next Democratic Presidential Primary Debate this month? Absolutely.” – Max Richtman’s letter to the CNN debate moderators, 7/16/19
Unfortunately, the moderators did not heed the letter and – for the second time in a row – failed to ask a question about Social Security. But the next Democratic debate on September 12th in Houston will present another opportunity for the candidates to raise the issue.
On day one of the DNC Summer Meeting, Richtman, who is Vice Chair of the party’s Seniors Council, appeared on a panel about issues affecting older Americans. He and fellow panelist Rich Fiesta, Executive Director of the Alliance for Retired Americans, hammered home the importance of continuing to lead senior voters back into the Democratic fold in 2020. After years of casting ballots against their own interests, older voters swung toward the Democrats again in the 2018 midterms.
National Committee Advisory Board Vice Chair and grandson of President of Franklin D. Roosevelt, James Roosevelt, Jr., briefly addressed the attendees at the Seniors Council event. Roosevelt told the audience that while he is proud of being FDR’s grandson, he was “even prouder” to serve on NCPSSM’s advisory board. (His father, James Roosevelt, Sr., founded the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare in 1982.)
The DNC’s next summer meeting is set for July 17, 2020, during the Democratic National Convention in Milwaukee, less than four months before an election that will determine whether seniors’ financial and health security will be dangerously eroded – or strengthened for decades to come.