This week the Washington Post reported what we have long suspected would happen: “House Republicans have started to weigh a series of legislative proposals targeting Social Security, Medicare and other entitlement programs.”
Matt Hildreth, Executive Director of RuralOrganizing.org issued the following statement:
It’s appalling that House Republicans are using Americans who rely on Social Security and Medicare as hostages in their debt ceiling gamesmanship. Cuts to those vital programs would have a particularly devastating impact on rural communities. That House Republicans would even consider such a strategy shows contempt for the people who live in their districts – those currently receiving the benefits they earned and those approaching the age when they can receive the benefits they earned.
The facts are clear. Rural communities have higher percentages of older residents. According to Census data, “a larger segment of the population was 65 years and older in rural areas (17.5 percent) compared to urban areas (13.8 percent) during the 2012- 2016 period….While the overall size of the rural population has both increased and decreased since 1980 – hovering around 60 million – the share made up by the older population has consistently grown, from 10.9 percent in 1980 to 17.5 percent during the period 2012 to 2016.”
These numbers are borne out in the districts of key GOP House leaders. For example, New York’s 21st Congressional District, represented by the third-ranking House leader Elise Stefanik, is almost 60% rural. According to Census.Gov, over 19% of her constituents are over the age of 65 while 15% are over 55. Pennsylvania’s 15th Congressional District, one of the most rural districts in the country, is currently represented by Glenn Thompson, the chair of the House Agriculture Committee. According to Census.Gov, over 22% of his constituents are over 65. Another 15% are over 55 so approaching the age when they can receive benefits. When Stefanik, Thompson, and other GOP leaders talk about cuts to Social Security and Medicare, they are threatening tens of thousands of their own constituents.
Republicans talk a good game when it comes to rural issues, but, the reality is that they don’t deliver for them. This latest effort to cut Social Security and Medicare is a glaring example. They consistently prioritize mega-corporations and billionaires who fund their campaigns over their constituents.
Rural voters need to understand that their members of Congress do not look out for them. We’re going to watch this debate closely to make sure rural constituents know whose side their member of Congress is on.
The mission of RuralOrganizing.org is to rebuild a rural America that is empowered, thriving, and equitable. Follow us on Twitter @RuralOrganizing.