Seniors for Biden, a group of supporters for the presidential candidate, gathered virtually on Aug. 14 to celebrate the 85th birthday of Social Security. Older Americans know that Social Security, among other things, is on the ballot in this election. The seniors were joined by Dr. Jill Biden, actor Louis Gossett Jr., Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) and others, including AFT retiree Donesa Jackson to discuss the importance of Social Security and other programs that help older Americans.
“Joe Biden is completely committed not only to defend Social Security, but to expand and strengthen it,” said Heather Booth, director of senior and progressive engagement for the Biden campaign, who kicked off the celebration. Booth warned that a recent executive order issued by Donald Trump suspends funding for Social Security and, “if re-elected, he says he'll make those cuts permanent and destroy the system. This is a voting issue,” said Booth.
Rep. Schakowsky, who co-chairs the Democratic Task Force on Aging and Families, agreed, “We have to elect a new president and vice president to share our vision of Social Security's future. … If you are a senior, you care about seniors or you aspire to be a senior, you cannot afford to sit this one out. We need seniors to be mobilized to get out the vote.”
“For 85 years, Social Security has ensured that Americans enjoy a secure retirement with guaranteed benefits after that lifetime of work and contributions,” Dr. Jill Biden told participants. “That right has never been more important than now as a global pandemic threatens older Americans’ lives and living situations. And yet it has never been more vulnerable as this administration promises to permanently defund it. Joe understands how critical Social Security is. He'll never gamble with it. And in fact, he will strengthen it so that it can continue to better Americans’ lives for generations to come.”
Actor Louis Gossett Jr., told participants that Social Security is important to seniors, especially for those families where grandparents are raising grandchildren as well as for those who are disabled. When it comes to Social Security, he said, the choice in this election is clear: “Donald Trump wants to starve Social Security. Joe Biden wants to improve benefits.”
During the meeting, Joe Biden earned endorsements from the Alliance for Retired Americans and Social Security Works. The event also featured a panel of alliance members who shared their thoughts on Social Security and other issues.
Donesa Jackson, a retired AFT member who lives in Florida, a state hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, said her biggest concern is making sure her vote is counted in November. Jackson has some health conditions that put her at risk, so she has limited her time outside of her home. She will vote by mail. “As the election gets closer, I’m trying to decide where to deposit my ballot so that I am certain that my ballot will be actually counted in this very, very important election.”
Jackson added that it’s important to ensure that no one tampers with Medicare and that drug prices are lowered. “I am very concerned about prescription drugs, because the cost is so high. Many older Americans cannot even afford to buy the medicine they need to live. We have seniors who spend thousands of dollars every single month trying to purchase life-sustaining drugs. I've heard of seniors cutting pills in half trying to stretch it and make certain they last a little bit longer,” said Jackson, adding that she is concerned about the coronavirus. “I am concerned about COVID-19 because I know it is not a hoax. COVID-19 kills people.”
Jackson trusts that Joe Biden will be able to address these issues. “I sincerely believe that he will be able to solve this problem and save lives.”