There is much to admire about Bernie Sanders’ upstart presidential campaign, including his skillful handling of attempts to force him on the defensive about his age.
Sanders, 74, doesn’t take the bait. He sticks to the issues, hammering home the problems of the disappearing middle class, systemic wealth inequality and unconstrained corporate greed. And voters are responding positively to his approach and his message, age notwithstanding. He’s ahead of Hilary Clinton in New Hampshire (50-46) and trailing only slightly behind Clinton in Iowa (48-45).
Eight months ago, Sanders showing in national polls was about three percent!
On Sunday, George Stephanopoulos on the ABC news show This Week called Sander’s age a barrier to Sanders’’ “electability.” Stephanopoulos ran clips from a focus group conducted for ABC by Republican political consultant Frank Lunz.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE 1: My biggest thing is Bernie seems old.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE 2: “… And I see how that office ages people. Bernie won’t make it.”
Stephanopoulos asked Sanders how he would reassure those voters. “Well, for a start,” said Sanders, “I would urge those voters, the voters all over this country, to take a look at recent polls in which Bernie Sanders is matched with Republican candidates Trump on down … we beat Trump nationally by 13 points. Secretary Clinton beat him by 7 points.”
“So the fact that you’ll be 75 on Election Day, not an issue?” asked Stephanopoulos.
“The fact that we are bringing forth a message on issue after issue that is being supported by the American people …. those are the issues that the American people are being galvanized upon,” Sanders said.
One of the issues that Sanders has raised involves elder poverty, which is being completely ignored by other Democratic and Republican candidates.
One issue raised by Sanders on the show is why Clinton has not supported a bill Sanders proposed last March, the Social Security Expansion Act. Under current law, the amount of income subject to the payroll tax is capped at $118,500. Someone making millions of dollars a year pays the same amount in payroll taxes as someone making $118,500 a year. Sanders’ legislation would subject all income over $250,000 to the payroll tax, a move that he says would impact only the top 1.5 percent of wage earners. Sanders says that making the wealthiest Americans contribute more to Social Security would extend the solvency of Social Security through 2060.
“At a time when over half of the American people have less than $10,000 in savings and senior poverty is increasing, we should not be talking about cutting Social Security benefits. We should be talking about expanding benefits to make sure that every American can retire with dignity,” Sanders said.