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'Contempt' Shown by Bloomberg for Recipients of Social Security Indicates Billionaire Would Seek to Cut Benefits if Elected President, Say Critics

"If he wins the presidency, striking a 'grand bargain' with Mitch McConnell to cut our earned benefits is likely to be among his top priorities."

Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg's past comments on Social Security make his commitment to the program suspect, say progressives.

Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg's past comments on Social Security make his commitment to the program suspect, say progressives. (Photo: Bastiaan Slabbers/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

If billionaire Michael Bloomberg is elected president, one of the first things he'll do is cut Social Security benefits. 

That's according to advocacy group Social Security Works, citing reporting from the American Prospect's David Dayen and Alexander Sammon quoting years of the former New York City mayor's hostility to the program. 

"Over and over again, Michael Bloomberg shows contempt for Social Security and its beneficiaries," the group tweeted. "If he wins the presidency, striking a 'grand bargain' with Mitch McConnell to cut our earned benefits is likely to be among his top priorities."

Ultimately, said Sammon, Bloomberg's history on Social Security and benefits in general give President Donald Trump an easy line of attack in the general election. 

"He's criticized Trump for proposing cuts to Medicaid/Medicare/Social Security, and pledged without detail to expand services," Sammon said of Bloomberg. "But that pledge belies a decade of calls to cut the programs, raise the eligibility age, etc."

A 2020 Democratic presidential candidate, Bloomberg will hit the debate stage for the first time Wednesday night in Nevada and face off against his competitors, including Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who is leading recent national polls and has made no secret of his antipathy to the billionaire's late entry into the race. 

On Wednesday afternoon, Sanders posted a video highlighting Bloomberg's past enthusiam for cutting Social Security and reluctance to protect benefits. 

"We will not defeat Donald Trump with a candidate who advocated for cuts to Medicare and Social Security," Sanders tweeted.

Dayen and Sammon recount Bloomberg's years of attacks on Social Security and other benefits programs like Medicaid and Medicare. 

According to their reporting, it's hard to take Bloomberg at face value on his plans to help Americans because of that history:

Bloomberg's conversion into a mainstream liberal Democrat, right at the moment he entered the race, has led to a retirement security plan that would add a minimum benefit to Social Security, increase the cost of living adjustment to better align with costs for the elderly, add dental, vision, and hearing coverage to Medicare and Medicaid, and limit out-of-pocket drug costs on the public plans. That this is so at-odds with eight years of consistent advocacy for cuts to these programs and outright anger at those who would protect them makes it hard to believe Bloomberg would follow through on his newfound love of social insurance.

Bloomberg has been hitting the AARP for years, Dayen and Sammon wrote, including in an appearance in 2015 where he compared the group to the NRA. Mashable reporter Matt Binder found another instance, from 2017, wherein Bloomberg added teachers' unions to the list of NRA-like organizations.

In a column for Common Dreams Tuesday, Social Security Works president Nancy J. Altman and communications director Linda Benesch argued that Bloomberg can't be trusted to protect the benefits until he comes clean on his past.

"To get right on Social Security, Bloomberg must repudiate his past support for cuts," Altman and Benesch wrote. "He must pledge that he will never support cutting a single penny of current or future benefits. Unless that happens, supporters of Social Security should consider him an enemy of the program—and vote accordingly in the Democratic primary."

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