Home | About | Donate

This Political Family Has Been Fighting for Social Security and Medicare for All Since the 1930s

This Political Family Has Been Fighting for Social Security and Medicare for All Since the 1930s

Nancy J. Altman

Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-MI) is a leader in the fight to improve Medicare and expand it to cover everyone in America. With Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA), she is one of the two lead sponsors of the Medicare for All Act of 2019, which was just introduced with more than 100 cosponsors. Dingell and Jayapal co-chair the Medicare for All caucus.

1 Like

I was wondering when expansion of benefits stopped. The same year I graduated high school, 1972. Since the 80’s the idiots in Congress have wanted to reduce the benefits. Even now they want to “privatize” this ‘social system’. This is all part of the neo-liberal economic system designed to extract ‘wealth’ from private citizenry. It’s high time for a universal health care enactment guarantying paid access to any and all healthcare issues, from birth 'till death. Anything less is unacceptable.


Hi Olhippy: well the things to do is to make sure those in Congress who are against Medicare for AlL—that those people are voted out of Congress. Then , if they haven’t served very long—imagine how hard they will work for Medicare for All— as just plain citizens don’t do as well. When you stay a long time in Congress—you pretty much receive great retirement benefits-----------maybe all congressional terms should have limits—otherwise it seems that many elected start feeling like entitled lords and ladies. : )

I LOVE it!

To the best of my knowledge, Nancy Altman gets all of it right. I am facilitating a discussion on Social Security with a group of seniors next Wednesday (week from tomorrow), and I am using her most recent book, The Truth About Social Security, to review and update my fairly extensive knowledge of the subject. Most important are her take-downs of the “zombie lies” promulgated by (a) ignorant people and (b) people who enjoy seing other people suffer.

I think that Medicare for All and Improved Social Security Benefits should also apply equally to all public employees, especially DC Senators and Representatives. They should have the same benefits as those they “represent”. They should NOT have better benefits than the people. All representative should get the standard SS and MCFA like everybody else.

Would you then abolish all other employer-provided pension plans as well? When the Social Security system was being put together private pensions were not very common, and while the original benefits were inadequate to replace a sufficient portion of a worker’s wages, the intention of those who founded it was that it would eventually do just that. What I had not realized was that it was not only employer sponsored heath care insurance that burgeoned beginning before the war and continuing to expand after it. The same was true of private pensions. As a result, like our absurd health care financing system, our retirement security system is just as absurd. See Nancy Altman, The Truth about Social Security, pp. 161-170.

My wife and I could barely survive on our Social Security (which was expanded but not nearly as much as the founders intended). But she has small pensions from two employers, and I have a fairly good one from 13 years of work in a state college system at the end of my career. Shortly after I was vested in that plan the state changed the rules, lengthening the time before an employee is vested and (I believe) reducing the level of the benefits.

For all their flaws the Dingle dynasty at least kept the national health fight in sight. Let’s hope that continues and builds but I have little hope mostly due to the abject greed and stupidity and profound liack of vision of the average USian.
Warning one of my novel size posts ahead:
We were visiting my in-laws ( mentally sharp 85 and 88) in their very nice retirement community ( read posh old folks home) recently. …And we ended up playing trivia, staying for happy hour and then dinner. We chatted a lot with their resident friends. Heard all( and I mean ALL (tmi) about their various illnesses and hospital visits throughout the afternoon. So spouse and I, clever beings that we are, finally brought up Medicare… oh my do they love love love it they said - many bragging about the small amount they had to pay after a lengthy hospitalization…
…So we said … so you guys are all for Medicare For All right since it so great and all? The response was almost funny in how angry and outraged most of them got at just the thought of it… even when we gently brought up the recent figures put out as to how much it would SAVE both their kids grandkids AND the country…
…The talking point they all rallied to was even funnier - that they would never want ‘government control’ of their healthcare and that of their kids and grands… we had to restrain ourselves from rolling on the floor!!! It was just like that crazy lady with the poster saying keep your government hands off my medicare… we could not believe it…
We then of course had to mention that they seemed to like THEIR government run healthcare… most just stopped talking to us at that point and most wandered off…
When we walked back to my in-laws room my mil yelled at us (actually yelled at me, her dil, as my husband was in the john) for creating ‘problems’.wven though we have being having this discussion with them forever we dove in again. I asked why she and pop didn’t want our daughter and son and son in law and expected grandchild and her other kids and grands not to have the same assurance of medical care as they have… She said “they should work for it like they did”.( She was a practicing nurse until 65 and worked full time nights through four kids and pop repaired cash registers and then computers )
I pointed out they all the kids work and reminded her my son in law was unexpectedly laid off from his teaching position and was working three part time jobs to literally pay for the cost of his being added to my daughters plan as my daughter’s heath insurance plan at work only covers her reasonably… my husband then came back in and reminded them her adored grandson also had several part time jobs and STILL only qualified for the Medicaid expansion as insurance. And actually he had to quit one that gave him a small raise as it would have bumped him off Medicaid but left him with zip as the next up plan on the ACA would be unaffordable… ( he needs insurance as he usually has at least one hospitalization a year for serious kidney issues and has very pricey daily meds). You could see the cognitive dissonance and I thought just maybe we had finally finally broken through…, then she just shook her head violently and muttered something unintelligible and that was that.
Here’s my point:
Greed and stupidity and political allegiance wins EVEN over family in the US apparently, otherwise all seniors would be FOR some kind of national health plan not tied to employment to help their children, grands and great grands…
. Friends have similar tales with many of their parents. My mom passed away at 86 100% behind a single payer national health plan so I count myself lucky there. I think it was because she traveled extensively and lived abroad at times. And she just had a working brain…
My inlaws were always good kind hardworking people who were good to us always. I bragged what great in-laws I had. It hurts a lot that they seem to not give a shit now about what happens to us or their grandkids and their kids…
The Dims would rather elect Repubinuts to govern than create a working national health system or allow progressive ideas to rise in their stultifyingly corporate worshipping party.

An all-too-familiar (sic) story. I think the problem is not stupidity as much as mere ignorance. But a problem arises when an ignorant person (all of us) becomes so comfortable in hizzorher ignorance that they forget that they are ignorant. At that point they embrace their ignorance, becoming willfully ignorant which IS tantamount to being stupid.

There is a wonderful YouTube video of John Cleese explaining why it is impossible for a stupid person to overcome his stupidity, being unaware of that condition because recognizing that one is stupid requires the same skill set as recognizing that one is NOT stupid! Here the line between ignorance and stupidity is blurred, as is often the case.

As a teacher I am unwilling to admit that anyone with an IQ above about 90 is incapable of learning. But how to break through that wall of unwillingness to learn is still something of a mystery. Sometimes repetition helps. After all, that is often how people come to believe such blatant untruths. But obviously repetition can backfire, hardening the resistance to accepting that one does not know everything, or even everything one needs in order to survive.

Another version:

“It is better to know nothing than to know what ain’t so.” – Proverb, Josh Billings (Henry Wheeler Shaw), 1818-1885


I’m in Debbie Dingell’s district, MI-12. It’s D +14, meaning in the last two presidential elections, it voted d-party by 14% more than the national average. In other words, it’s blue as hell. Debbie won it in 2018 with over 68% of the vote, the repub had under 30%.

I mention this because in a very safe seat, Debbie could be a lot less centrist and much more progressive. I’m glad to see her co-sponsoring the Improved MFA bill. But I would absolutely support a primary challenge from her left.

1 Like

You may have just created a new strategy for the “New Dog Democrats”: In addition to attacking your enemy at his strength, challenge your allies to be less like your enemy.

1 Like

Gi Rebel-Farmer… oh my bad, you are correct. Congress needs to stay focused always on being OF the People, BY the People and FOR the People. : )

1 Like

Employers can do whatever they want in terms of pensions and supplemental healthcare. But politicians who are employed by the people ie our representatives and senators, then they get no special deals on our dime. They get the same medical (Medicare for all) and pension (social security) benefits that we the people get. I also believe that there should be term limits and no damn pensions for these career politicians.

I think you are absolutely right about the term limits. I just added a different take on their benefits. No harm. No foul :slight_smile:

1 Like

I look this up at least once a year. The situation is fairly complicated, but in general, members of Congress have been required by law since 2013 to participate in Social Security on the same basis as other citizens (this is a simplification from a complicated plethora of earlier schemes) and to purchase health care insurance through the exchanges since ACA was passed.

After five years they also become vested in a pension plan that is similar in nature and generosity to those provided by large private-sector employers, with benefits based on their salaries and years with the firm. MOC receive generous salaries compared to you and me but in line those for middle managers in the private sector. Many have other income, some have quite a lot, but they get the same salary as former bartenders. Most must pay for a second residence and a lot of commuting–no problem for former CEOs, possibly a problem for former bartenders.

All of the above is the result of a decades-long move to do exactly what you propose, to democratize Congress insofar as that is possible. Do your own web search if you want more details.

High turnover impairs the work of any organization, and the workings of Congress are arcane and Byzantine, so take more than a year or two to learn. Up to a point, organizational memory is worth money in the private sector and makes for better government in the public sector. As always, the devil is in the details: There needs to be a balance between high turnover and corrupt complacency. Maybe three terms for House members and one for Senators, six years for all?