Last night, bold progressive Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) faced off with his right-wing challenger Josh Mandel.
At one point, the debate host Chuck Todd asked both candidates if they would be open to raising the retirement age for Social Security and Medicare, which would amount to a huge cut to benefits for both programs.
Mandel tried to weasel out of answering the question, saying that he was open to making changes to the programs for younger people but would not specify whether he would make these exact changes.
When it came time for Brown to answer, he didn’t waver. He blasted the idea of raising the retirement age and eloquently explained that working-class people can’t work any longer:
BROWN: Here’s why I wouldn’t raise the retirement age, the age for Medicare eligibility. I met a woman in Youngstown a few months ago. Who said, ‘I’m 63 years old I don’t have health insurance, I just want to stay alive until I turn 65 so I can get health insurance.’ If you raise the retirement age…maybe if you dress like this, if you’re the state treasurer, you’re a U.S. Senator maybe it works, but for a whole lot of working Americans it doesn’t.
TODD: But does it work for anybody?
BROWN: No, you don’t! You don’t. … On Social Security, I would not raise the retirement age, because working people, construction people, people who work in diners can’t work until they’re 70! … I would think of raising the [payroll tax] cap.
Brown’s answer hit the nail on the head: raising the retirement age would hit working-class people the most, whose life expectancy actually hasn’t increased very much in recent years. Lifting the payroll tax cap and making the wealthy pay a little bit more would keep Social …