On Jan. 5, our earned Social Security benefits will be on the Georgia ballot. The Democratic Party, which created Social Security, wants to protect and expand benefits. Republican elites in Washington, who call Social Security an “entitlement,” want to see its vital but modest benefits cut.

If Georgia voters send Jon Ossoff and the Rev. Raphael Warnock to the Senate, Democrats will set the agenda on Social Security. They’ll be able to hold hearings, mark up legislation, and schedule votes. If Ossoff and Warnock win on Jan. 5, legislation to increase Social Security benefits and keep the program fully funded for decades to come has a real opportunity to get to President-elect Joe Biden’s desk. 

If Senators David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler win reelection, none of that will happen. There’s nothing Republican Leader Mitch McConnell hates more than requiring the wealthiest Americans to pay their fair share towards the common good. If McConnell remains in control of the Senate, he will never hold a vote or even a hearing on legislation to protect and expand Social Security.

This is why Georgians who care about Social Security must vote for Ossoff and Warnock. 

Social Security is essential for Georgians. Over one in every six residents of Georgia receives Social Security benefits. As important as Social Security is for all Georgians, its modest but vital benefits are especially important to African Americans and others who have faced a lifetime of discrimination.

The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. recognized that racial justice and economic justice are intertwined. His values, which are basic American and religious values, are embodied in our Social Security system. 

Among those values are that it is our birthright as human beings to have dignity, freedom, and independence; that we have responsibilities and concern for ourselves, our families, and our neighbors; and that we are all connected, sharing the same risks and benefits.

The current pandemic makes Social Security even more important. To date, nearly 500,000 Georgians have contracted COVID-19 and more than 9,500 have died. Even as the economy has collapsed, Social Security continues to reliably pay monthly benefits, allowing its beneficiaries and their families to pay rent, buy food, and fill life-saving prescriptions. 

As divided as the American people are over many issues, we are united in our overwhelming and deep support for Social Security. Poll after poll finds that we believe Social Security is more important than ever, that it should not be cut, but rather, should be expanded. 


This is not the view shared by Perdue or Loeffler. Loeffler has used Washington-code speak to indicate an openness to cutting future Social Security benefits. In an interview with AARP, Loeffler evasively stated that “we need to preserve those benefits for people who are close to retirement or in retirement. She did not specify what “close to retirement” means, leaving the door open to big benefit cuts for people who are currently aged 50, 55, or even 60.  

Perdue is even worse. He wants to make Social Security part of the budget process, even though Social Security has nothing to do with the deficit (as President Ronald Reagan succinctly explained) and currently has a $2.9 trillion surplus.

Ossoff and Warnock understand that Americans of all political backgrounds rely on our earned Social Security benefits, and support protecting and expanding them. They know how important Social Security benefits are for the people of Georgia, both now and in the future. 

Ossoff has promised to “work to strengthen and protect” Social Security benefits. Warnock went on record to promise that “I will defend Social Security.”

Our Social Security system unites all of us. It is a critical tool for racial and economic justice, and it is too important to gamble on Perdue and Loeffler. If we want to help President-elect Joe Biden deliver on his promise to expand Social Security, Ossoff and Warnock are the only choices. 

Andrew Young, a world-renowned civil rights leader, has, over his storied career, served as mayor of Atlanta, a U.S. Congressman, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, and a counselor to presidents. 

Nancy Altman is a lawyer and a leading expert on Social Security. Her latest book is Social Security Works for Everyone! (The New Press, forthcoming, 2021).

(Photo: US News & World Report)

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