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CNBC gets schooled on Social Security

Jeremy Sprinkle
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AFL-CIO's Damon Silvers drops the hammer

When CNBC invited AFL-CIO Special Counsel and Policy Director Damon Silvers on to talk about possible cuts to Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid as part of some terrible new deal to avoid more Republican hostage taking when federal government funding runs out again in January, they made a serious mistake.

From the Los Angeles Times:

A couple of well-heeled anchor-reporters for CNBC -- the type of people who need never beg for lunch dates among Wall Street bankers -- Friday batted around the supposed threat to the republic posed by hordes of seniors collecting Social Security benefits.

Unfortunately for them, their interviewee was Damon Silvers, policy director for the AFL-CIO and one of the best informed and fiercest defenders of Social Security in Washington. If they listened, they learned something. The evidence is they didn't listen.

The segment began with Silvers explaining that 55% of Americans today fear they'll be economically insecure in retirement. "That's up from 33%  20 years ago," he says. Consequently, "the last thing we should do for our country is cut Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security benefits." He explains that's why the AFL-CIO has told congressional Democrats that any of them who vote for reducing benefits will get no financial support from the American labor movement.

Host Kelly Evans then attacked the AFL-CIO for refusing to support budget negotiations if they include proposals to cut seniors' social safety net, to which Silvers responds:

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.

Then co-host Simon Hobbs jumped in to question whether the AFL-CIO understands "the reality that if you don't cut entitlement benefits this country may well go bankrupt." Silvers delivered the reality check.

That’s frankly not true. That is a lie put forward by billionaires who don’t want to pay higher taxes....The only people who believe what you said are people not counting on those programs and who are worried their very large incomes will be taxed.

Hobbs attempted a comeback by saying he's speaking for people who understand the numbers. Again, Silvers would have none of it.

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 wanna have a democracy of rich people, I suppose your statement is true.

Those who want to take away our safety nets don't want you to see the video of this exchange, so be sure to watch the video! Then share it with your friends and family.