Getting Retirees To “Look Down On” the Disabled

If you recall the video involving Republican Senate nominee Thom Tillis that made news right before the NC primary, the self-styled conservative revolutionary told GOP activists they needed to drive a wedge between the government-dependent by getting people with disabilities to “look down on” able-bodied beneficiaries of government assistance. He actually called it a “divide and conquer” strategy.

Well, something similar is brewing on a more perilous (for the GOP) front: a conservative effort to get retirees to “look down on” those receiving Social Security Disability benefits. Greg Sargent is all over it today:

Dem Senator Sherrod Brown, a member of the Finance Committee, tells me that GOP Senators have requested hearings into Social Security Disability Insurance this summer. Dems expect Republicans to attack the program as wasteful and fraudulent, in part because conservative media have already done so, and in part because at least one GOP proposal in recent days took aim at the program….

“They want to separate ‘good’ Social Security (retirement security) from ‘bad’ Social Security (disability insurance), to win support for structural reform,” said Brown, who is holding a Senate Finance sub-committee hearing tomorrow on the overall program. “The attacks on disability insurance will accelerate. This is how they will try to back-door the dismantling of social insurance.”

So with people on disability “looking down” on food stamp beneficiaries, and retirees looking down on the disabled, wonder who will be asked to “look down” on the retirees? If at some point Republicans stop counting on them as part of their electoral base, I’d guess the answer would be all those working-age “makers” resentful of “takers.” Everybody gets a turn to be the next “welfare queens.”

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Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore is a political columnist for New York and managing editor at the Democratic Strategist website. He was a contributing writer at the Washington Monthly from January 2012 until November 2015, and was the principal contributor to the Political Animal blog.