PCCC Reminds Us That Elizabeth Warren Was An Early Leader In The Fight To Expand Social Security

Received this e-mail from the Progressive Change Campaign Committee just now in support of Elizabeth Warren’s presidential campaign:

Polls show Elizabeth Warren and Joe Biden competing neck and neck for delegates in key Super Tuesday states like California.

Watch our new video compilation showing the many times Joe Biden called for cutting Social Security while Elizabeth Warren led the fight to expand Social Security benefits.

Watch here — and then donate $2, $20, or $200 to Warren to show her you support her plan to boost benefits $200 per month for America’s grandparents.

Below, we share the behind-the-scenes story of how Elizabeth Warren changed the national debate on Social Security — moving cuts off the table and pushing expanding Social Security benefits into the political mainstream.

Turn on images to see a frame from the video showing Joe Biden saying he'll cut Social Security -- and Elizabeth Warren fighting to expand it.

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The Behind The Scenes Story:

Turn on images to see the Mother Jones headline 'How Elizabeth Warren Made Expanding Social Security Cool'

Turn on images to see the headline from The Nation 'How Expanding Social Security Went From Economic Fantasy to Mainstream Talking Point in 3 Short Years.'

We begin with excerpts from PCCC's own write up in The Nation!

Just a few years ago, in 2012 and 2013, Republicans were pushing to cut the program, and plenty of Democrats seemed eager to give them cover. Centrist think tanks like Third Way opined that Social Security was a “populist political and economic fantasy.”

The idea of expansion wasn’t even on the table. The most liberal Democratic position was “protect it.” The most extreme Republican position was “dismantle it.” The likely outcome seemed somewhere between the two positions—painful cuts that would hurt millions of seniors and veterans. We needed a new playbook.

For the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, the grassroots organization I co-founded with Adam Green, the moment of revelation came from a meeting Adam and I had with Senator Elizabeth Warren. She had just been elected to the Senate, and her office at the time was a temporary trailer parked in the courtyard of a Senate office building…

Towards the end of the meeting, Adam and I brought up the ominous attacks on Social Security, the gathering storm clouds.

In response, Senator Warren mentioned pieces of legislation proposed by then-Senator Tom Harkin of Iowa and then-Senator Mark Begich of Alaska. The legislation would expand Social Security benefits, not cut them. Most importantly, this was legislation proposed by a senator from a red state and a senator from the first presidential caucus state, creating the political room to fundamentally shift the debate.

Suddenly, it was clear. We would go on the offense…

In the summer of 2013, a group of progressive leaders met together in a small conference room during Netroots Nation, the big annual gathering of grassroots activists, and agreed to pivot from stopping Social Security cuts to calling for expanded benefits. With allies from Democracy for America, Social Security Works, MoveOn.org, the Working Families Party, the AFL-CIO, and elsewhere, we started a regular drumbeat of petitions, letters to the editor, and phone calls…

In November 2013, Senator Warren gave a historic floor speech calling for Social Security expansion, which led to Third Way attacking her on the op-ed pages of The Wall Street Journal. Congressional Democrats pushed back. Honorary Third Way chairs Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Representatives Joe Crowley (D-NY) and Allyson Schwartz (D-PA) publicly criticized the attacks; Schwartz eventually resigned from the foundation.

As Huffington Post reported, “The movement for benefits expansion got a big boost when Sen. Elizabeth Warren took up the cause, delivering a passionate floor speech in favor of it in Nov. 2013 that went viral.”

Describing their corporate-funded attacks on Warren, Third Way cofounder Jim Kessler admitted to Sirius radio host Ari Rabin-Havt (now a top Sanders advisor) “that Social Security plan was the final moment for us.” It was “languishing…she started talking about it and suddenly it became much more talked about and viable.”

In other words, Warren is effective.

Mother Jones finishes the story:

In late March, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, the populist Democrat from Massachusetts, entered the fray—and challenged the prevailing view. In the wee hours of March 27, Warren introduced an amendment to the Senate budget resolution calling for protecting the program’s solvency and expanding Social Security benefits. And every Democrat present but two voted for the amendment; every Republican opposed it.

Literally overnight, thanks to the Elizabeth Warren, we went from 8 Democratic Senators to 42 Democratic Senators on the record in support of expanding Social Security — enough to withstand a filibuster if cuts were proposed. This is the moment that Social Security cuts were taken off the table, after decades of others trying.

Elizabeth Warren is the candidate who checks all three boxes: bold progressive, effective, and beats Trump.

Warren has proposed the boldest expand Social Security plan — $200 a month more for our seniors. Can you donate $2, $20, or $200 to show her your support for this plan and her effectiveness at getting progressive stuff done? Click here.

Thanks for being a bold progressive.

— Adam Green and Stephanie Taylor, PCCC co-founders

Click here to donate to PCCC’s efforts to spread the word.