Progressives to Clinton: Pledge to Never Cut Social Security—Now

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Progressives to Clinton: Pledge to Never Cut Social Security—Now

'We challenge Hillary Clinton to take the first step and take cuts off the table, because committing to never cut Social Security benefits is an absolute prerequisite for a Democratic nominee.'

Hillary Clinton must pledge to take cuts to Social Security off the table, progressives say. (Photo: Gage Skidmore/flickr/cc)

Hillary Clinton is under pressure from progressives to pledge never to cut Social Security—and to do it before the New Hampshire primary on February 9.

The Progressive Change Campaign Committee (PCCC) launched a new national push this week demanding the former secretary of state confirm her allegiance to the program that provides benefits to roughly 60 million Americans, which she has yet to do. The campaign includes a petition calling on Clinton to make the promise, and will introduce new tactics in the coming days.

"We challenge Hillary Clinton to promise before the New Hampshire Primary that she will never cut Social Security," PCCC co-founder Adam Green said on Tuesday—just a day after the Iowa caucuses unexpectedly ended in a "virtual tie" between Clinton and her chief rival Bernie Sanders.

Clinton has said she would "fight efforts" to weaken or privatize Social Security. However, as the 2016 presidential election approaches, her ties to Wall Street are still a major concern for many voters, particularly as Sanders gains on her national lead without the help of big-money donors. The senator from Vermont on Wednesday said cuts to Social Security would "of course" not be considered under his administration.

"There is no debate about this among progressives," he tweeted to Democracy for America.

Now, as Clinton angles to claim the "progressive" mantle, the pressure from activists is building.

"Bernie Sanders defied expectations and surged to a tie in Iowa by successfully riding a rising the economic populist tide that we see all across America," Green said Tuesday. "In recent months, Hillary Clinton has held herself out to voters as someone who would fight for economic populist goals, including on issues like debt-free college and Wall Street reform. But she is leaving open a huge vulnerability by not addressing Social Security cuts."

"Forcing seniors to live in poverty, to choose between food and rent, is unacceptable," he continued. "We challenge Hillary Clinton to take the first step and take cuts off the table, because committing to never cut Social Security benefits is an absolute prerequisite for a Democratic nominee. Hillary Clinton should make this commitment before New Hampshire. Then, the Democratic Party can forge ahead to a national discussion about how to expand benefits to meet the needs of our grandparents and veterans."

In a Public Policy Polling (PPP) survey conducted on behalf of the PCCC just ahead of Monday's Iowa caucus, 84 percent of Democrats across all age groups said a commitment to saving Social Security was "very important" to their voting.

Nancy Altman, president of the advocacy group Social Security Works, said Thursday that the unexpected caucus results demonstrated "a clear rejection of Wall Street ideas, including cutting Social Security....Given the nation’s looming retirement income crisis and growing income and wealth inequality, that is the right policy."

"Now, as the campaigns head into New Hampshire, is the time for her to stand clearly and strongly with Main Street, not Wall Street, and pledge no cuts for today's beneficiaries and no cuts for those who follow," Altman said.

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