At a press conference in downtown Orlando Monday morning, the Florida Alliance of Retired Americans (FLARA) called out U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, demanding that he pledge to oppose efforts to damage Social Security after a zero percent voting record on senior citizens’ issues in the 2015 legislative session.
His record includes being in favor of raising the minimum age at which one can get Social Security benefits, supporting the privatization of Social Security and comments in which he said such programs “weakened Americans.”
Led by Barbara DeVane, FLARA Secretary, the conference hit Rubio’s efforts to weaken or disparage Social Security and other aid programs for the elderly, with DeVane using her wit to attack him.
“Marco Rubio says Social Security weakens us as Americans,” she said. “I’ll tell you what weak is. If you cut my benefits, I’ll be weak, because I’ll be starving. It’s the only thing that keeps me from having to move back in with my children. They don’t want that. It keeps gas in my car and food on my table and helps pay for expensive medications.”
She said Social Security was the number one issue with women going to the polls at this election.
Florida National Organization of Women president Terry Sanders took the stage and wasted no time accusing Rubio of living in a fantasy world, separate from those who actually need the benefits he has voted against and spoken against.
“I wish I lived in Senator Rubio’s world,” she said. “A world where Social Security and welfare are never needed, where everyone is wealthy, where husbands never beat their wives and women never get pregnant unexpectedly, where they never get the Zika virus and realize they could have a child with it. But that’s not the real world, Senator Rubio. People in the real world have real problems.”
Beverlye Neal, State Director of the National Congress for Black Women, pointed out that while all women are disproportionately affected by cuts to Social Security due to their lesser pay than men, it’s black women that have it even worse, due to the even smaller pay they receive than white women.
In doing so, she evoked the response from Rubio’s team that they’d passed out prior to the press conference. In it, Rubio states that he is going to protect Social Security for the elderly and for generations to come – after all, his mother is on Social Security.
“My mother’s sole source of income is Social Security, and I would never do anything to hurt my mother,” he wrote, then going on to decry “decades of government mismanagement and a lack of political courage from politicians in both parties” for failing to protect such benefits.
Neal took that and ran with it.
“Rubio’s mother needs to stand here with us and tell him ‘son, you need to protect me and others,’” she said.
Even despite Rubio’s claims that he’s all for protecting Social Security, Medicaid and other entitlements, DeVane and the others were nonplussed.
“People say ‘entitlements’ like it’s disparaging,” she said. “But you’re damn right it’s my entitlement. It’s my Social Security check. That’s my money. You’re entitled to get it when you’re retired.”
She also pointed out that Rubio’s opponent in the race, Patrick Murphy, had signed their pledge to protect Social Security, along with many other legislators.