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A crowd of 200 chanted outside Claire McCaskill’s office Friday afternoon, while inside the office, representatives of the coalition that had called for the rally spoke with McCaskill herself, urging her to protect Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security. They liked what they heard. Emerging from the meeting, Rabbi Susan Talve told the crowd that “we have a friend in Claire McCaskill.” After jubilantly reporting that Claire had pledged to protect all three programs, Talve said progressives must be loud in our support of these programs.

Claire can’t do this by herself. She needs us out here raising our voices. When we were sitting in there and we heard you out here chanting, the whole room lifted up. And you know what? She got energized. We could hear her saying, “Yes, Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security and the jobs of the most vulnerable workers. I will protect those.”

Let’s hope Talve is correct, that Claire will be true blue (pun intended), because we’re going to need her. The AARP just declared that it has decided renounce its own constituency by backing cuts to Social Security. The former advocate for older Americans adopts Paul Ryan’s divide and conquer Medicare strategy by insisting that the cuts will not affect current recipients. They’ll be “far off in the future”. AARP attempts to soften its betrayal by allowing as how the cuts “should be offset by increases in revenue.”

Dear Senator Claire, when AARP lobbyists drop by your  office hawking their version of reality, keep the money trail in mind:

Doug Henwood, the Brooklyn editor of a liberal business blog and Internet radio program who has written on Social Security, said AARP’s willingness to consider cuts in benefits “reads like a sign that this former lobby for the interest of older Americans has now transformed itself completely into an insurance company.” He continued, “Surely they can’t be persuaded by the merits of the arguments, since the alleged Social Security crisis is a phantom that can’t survive a serious round of fact-checking.”

You know perfectly well that cuts aren’t necessary:

There’s a simple, just, way to prevent [a day when the trust fund goes broke] from arriving, though: change or remove the cap on taxable income. Right now, everybody pays 6.2 percent of his income in FICA taxes, but only up to the first $106,000 a person earns. Do you earn more than $106,000. If not, you’re paying FICA on everything you earn. Most of us do. What I want to know is howcome the people who can best afford to pay 6.2 percent on everything they earn, those bringing in, say, 250 thou a year–or more–are the ones who pay FICA on only part of their earnings? Why do they get off easy while the people who pave their driveways, teach their children, ring up their purchase at Macy’s, and protect them from burglars pay it on every penny in their paychecks?

Raise the cap or, better yet, remove it. We could require the wealthier earners to pay, maybe, 3% FICA on everything from $106,000 to $306,000. Or 1% on everything from $106,000 to $450,000. There are a hundred different ways to get those better off to contribute more to the trust fund.

If we had the political will.

If we wanted to solve the issue honestly instead of cutting closed door deals that sell out people who’ve worked all their lives and who need. that. money.

Claire wants us to show up at her office periodically to give her political cover and to energize her. Oh. Well, I can do that. Will you?