Our retirement isn't a political bargaining chip for Mike Lawler and Kevin McCarthy | Opinion


On Sunday night, Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy came to Armonk for a fundraiser for Rep. Mike Lawler where a photo with McCarthy and Lawler would run you $5,500. That’s on top of the already steep $1,000 ticket price just to attend.

While Lawler and McCarthy were wining and dining their deep-pocketed donors, members of the Working Families Party joined NY-17 voters outside the event to make it clear to McCarthy and Lawler that we won’t accept any cuts to social security and Medicare.

During the latest debt ceiling negotiations, McCarthy rejected a clean debt ceiling agreement that would protect social security and Medicare, not only endangering our economy but putting the future of these programs into question.

Congressman Mike Lawler comments on Gov. Kathy Hochul's housing and infrastructure plan during a press conference outside the North Castle town hall in Armonk, on Tuesday, March 7, 2023.

McCarthy, in his own book, says that eligibility ages for social security and Medicare should “gradually increase,” and the morning after his appearance in Armonk, he went on CNBC to say that he plans to “fix” social security.

McCarthy can spin it all he wants, but we know what “fix” means. It means raising the retirement age, privatizing the program, and slashing benefits for seniors. 

In fact, GOP Senator Bill Cassidy has already introduced a proposal that would raise the retirement age to 70, keeping seniors from being able to spend quality time with their families during their later years. Mike Lawler hasn’t yet said whether he supports or opposes the proposal.As both the children of aging parents and parents ourselves, this issue is personal to us. If McCarthy and Lawler cut social security and Medicare, they’re cutting the care that our parents need to retire with dignity. They’re standing in the way of our own retirements. And they’re jeopardizing our children’s future and their ability to enjoy their lives. That’s not something we can sit by and watch happen.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy of Calif. speaks at a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, July 29, 2022.

We pay into social security and Medicare, and we deserve to be protected when we retire. The current cap on social security already exempts those earning wages over $147,000 from contributing equitably to the program. Simply raising the cap would strengthen the program for generations to come.

Mike Lawler has continued to sidestep the issue of raising the social security age. He could easily come out and support a clean debt ceiling increase with no cuts, but he refuses to do so. Why? Because he’s moving in lock-step with Kevin McCarthy and his anti-worker, anti-senior agenda.

Maybe the age of retirement doesn’t impact Lawler, McCarthy and their ultra rich donors. But it impacts us and our families. If McCarthy and Lawler negotiate cuts or changes to social security and Medicare, the results will be devastating to our parents, our neighbors, and countless others in our community who work hard everyday for their families. It’s one thing for politicians and lobbyists to work into their later years, but for working people who build and maintain our infrastructure, put food on our tables, or perform other back-breaking jobs, age 65 can’t come soon enough. 

As long as McCarthy and Lawler continue to use social security and Medicare as political bargaining chips, we’ll continue to crash their fundraisers and make their intentions known.

Meredith Wisner is chair of the Rockland County Chapter of the Working Families Party.

Jennifer Cabrera is the Vice Chair of the Westchester-Putnam County Chapter of the Working Families Party.

David Schwartz is one of the founding members of the Westchester-Putnam County Chapter of the Working Families Party.