California seniors protest against Social Security and Medicare cuts

Beth Torres

Worries climb that benefits programs could be on the chopping block
Photo bysevalv/123rf

Hundreds of California senior citizens from around the state recently turned out to protest possible government cuts to Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid programs. The California Alliance for Retired Americans (CARA) organized the demonstration to voice opposition to any changes to benefits programs.

Seniors carrying signs proclaiming, “Keep your hands off my Social Security!” gathered outside the California offices of Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy last week. They were joined by representatives from United Domestic Workers, people with disabilities, home health aides, and other advocacy groups.

This video from KGET News reports on the seniors’ concerns and the highlights of the rally:

Seniors fear the worst

During the rally, seniors and advocates expressed fear of what might happen if Congress authorizes benefit cuts as legislators look for ways to fund the government and raise the debt ceiling.

Advocates said that Social Security is the main source of income for many retirees. With rising inflation, retirees simply can’t afford a reduction in benefits.

This plight of California seniors is supported by recent studies. According to the Public Policy Institute of California, poverty rates in California are markedly higher for adults 65 and older (16.3 percent) compared to other age groups. Cuts to social safety net programs could put even more seniors at risk of living in poverty.

Homelessness among seniors is another problem that could increase should benefits be cut. California’s Homeless Data Integration System (HDIS) already shows senior homelessness is on the rise.

An article published by CalMatters, references the HDIS data, which shows that from 2017 to 2021 the senior population in California grew by 7 percent. However, the number of people 55 and older who were seeking homelessness services climbed by 84 percent.

This increase was more than any other age group, an indicator that California’s high cost of living is already forcing more seniors onto the streets.

President says Republicans want to cut retirement benefits

In his 2023 State of the Union address, President Biden promised he would not allow cuts to either Social Security or Medicare. He suggested that some Republicans wanted to reduce both programs.

While newly minted Speaker of the House McCarthy says that any cuts to Social Security and Medicare are “off the table,” some in the crowd at the rally were skeptical of this claim.

They believe that Congress could push to implement changes to benefits programs despite McCarthy’s pledge. CARA says McCarthy is "a well-known supporter of privatization and reducing spending on Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security."

Do you think Social Security and Medicare are in danger of being cut?

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