VIDEO: "A democracy of rich people"

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social security warning

Damon A. Silvers is the director of policy and special counsel for the AFL-CIO. Here he is on CNBC, and he killed it:


Silvers:

Right now 55% of Americans fear they're going to be economically insecure in their retirement. That's up from 33% 24 years ago. That's about the last thing we should do for our country is cut Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security benefits.

CNBC:

Nobody's saying that there's not a good rationale for having these programs in place. Of course they're popular, of course people want to make sure that our citizens are taken care of. But that's almost not the point, because what you've said is that you simply won't negotiate, and you're holding the threat of withholding your support for any Democrats who would even go forward and compromise at all around these measures for decades in the future.

Silvers:

We're being really clear. We're not going to give cover to Democrats who think it's a good idea to take away economic security from our most vulnerable citizens. We're extremely clear about that and we are not embarrassed about it whatsoever. We want a really clear message out there: If you cut Social Security benefits or Medicare benefits to our seniors, to our most vulnerable people in our country, you are going to get no cover from the American labor movement. We're happy to say that all day long. We think the reality is that it is by only treating our most vulnerable people fairly that there's going be any chance of progress on public policy issues facing our country going forward. That's the reality.

CNBC:

Are you as clear on the reality that if you have don't cut entitlement benefits this country may well go bankrupt?

Silvers:

That's frankly not true. That is a lie put forward by billionaires who don't want to pay higher taxes. Social Security is the best funded aspect of our retirement system today, and Medicare's long-term issues are integrated with the long-term issues of our health care system. Neither program is overgenerous. In fact both programs are undergenerous.

The only people who believe what you said are people who are not counting on those programs and who are worried their very large incomes will be taxed. Most people strongly oppose cuts to benefits in Social Security and Medicare. It's simply that most rich people don't. It's very simple.

CNBC:

I'm talking about the people who understand the figures...

Silvers:

You're talking about people who themselves are more afraid of paying higher taxes than they are afraid of being poor in retirement. You're talking about essentially rich people. If you want to have a democracy of rich people, I suppose you're statement is true.

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