Tag: raphael warnock
Warnock's Re-Election Is Also A Victory For Social Security

Warnock's Re-Election Is Also A Victory For Social Security

Social Security was on the ballot in Georgia’s December 6 run-off election. Senator Reverend Raphael Warnock’s re-election is a win for working families. It is a victory for Gold Star families, paralyzed veterans, seniors, and indeed all of Social Security’s over 65 million current beneficiaries and all future beneficiaries.

It is a loss for Republican politicians and their Wall Street donors who are determined to reach into our pockets and steal our hard earned benefits. If Herschel Walker had won, he would have rubber stamped the Republican agenda to cut Social Security’s modest but vital benefits.

Walker proudly campaigned with and took money from Senator Rick Scott (R-FL), the author of a plan that would put Social Security on the chopping block every five years. If Walker had been elected, he would have been a rubber stamp for Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI), whose plan would put Social Security on the chopping block every single year.

What cuts do Republicans have in mind? The Republican Study Committee, a group that counts about 75 percent of House Republicans as members, released a detailed plan to cut Social Security in multiple ways: Raising the retirement age to 70 (a 21 percent benefit cut), slashing middle class benefits, and handing billions of dollars of Social Security’s revenue over to Wall Street and private insurance corporations.

Republican politicians in Washington have been clear about how they plan to force those cuts into law—and Walker would have been a rubber stamp for that plan. Republican House Leader Kevin McCarthy has announced the Republican plan to take hostage the must-pass debt limit next summer. The ransom to be paid in exchange for their votes? Cuts to our earned Social Security benefits.

Nor is McCarthy only speaking for House Republicans. Senator John Thune (R-SD), number two Senate Republican leader, has echoed McCarthy’s plan to hold the debt limit hostage to Social Security cuts.

It is important to recognize that, as a self-funded program that has no borrowing authority and can only pay benefits if it has sufficient revenue to cover every penny of the cost, Social Security does not add even a penny to the federal debt. It is not contributing a penny to the debt whose limit must be raised to avoid a default by the United States on its obligations. Nevertheless, Republicans in Congress want to cut our earned benefits so badly, they’re willing to risk an economic catastrophe to make it happen.

Fortunately, Senator Warnock won, giving the Democrats a clear majority in the Senate. President Biden and the Democrats he leads have made it clear that they are committed to expanding Social Security, with no cuts, while requiring the wealthiest to begin to pay their fair share. And Senator Warnock himself understands how important our Social Security system is.

He recognizes that Social Security embodies the best of American and religious values—values that Senator Warnock has lived by his entire life. Among those values are that it is our birthright as human beings to have dignity, freedom and independence; that hard work should be rewarded; 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.

Social Security is as reliable as it is essential. Through pandemics, wars, and economic recessions, Social Security has always continued to reliably pay monthly benefits, allowing its beneficiaries and their families to pay rent, buy food, and fill life-saving prescriptions.

Senator Warnock understands that Americans of all political backgrounds rely on our earned Social Security benefits, and supports protecting and expanding them. He knows how important Social Security benefits are for the people of Georgia, both now and in the future.

In his two years in the Senate, Warnock has been a champion for seniors. As a member of the Senate Aging Committee, he led the successful fight to cap the cost of insulin for seniors. He was part of the winning vote to finally allow Medicare to negotiate with Big Pharma to lower drug prices.

Now, Georgia voters have re-elected Senator Warnock. Warnock and his Democratic colleagues have a mandate to protect Social Security’s earned benefits. Fortunately, President Biden and Demcrats in Congress have made clear that not only do they oppose cuts, they will not negotiate over debt limit legislation with the Republican terrorists who plan to kidnap it.

To avoid a dangerous and potentially calamitous game of chicken when a default is imminent, Democrats should thwart the kidnappers by raising or eliminating the debt ceiling before the end of this year. That will foil the Republican hostage-taking plans, a plan to force highly unpopular and unwise social cuts that voters in Georgia—and across America—resoundingly rejected in this year’s midterm elections.

Nancy J. Altman is a writing fellow for Economy for All, a project of the Independent Media Institute. She is the author of The Truth About Social Security and The Battle for Social Security and co-author of Social Security Works! and the forthcoming Social Security Works for Everyone!

This article was produced by Economy for All, a project of the Independent Media Institute.

Lindsey Graham Should Stop Insulting Black Voters -- And Listen To Them

Lindsey Graham Should Stop Insulting Black Voters -- And Listen To Them

One of South Carolina’s senators must have an incredibly low opinion of Black Americans, their intelligence and judgment. The evidence? His sad, almost laughable closing argument as he barnstormed for Herschel Walker, who lost his runoff race challenging Democratic incumbent Sen. Raphael Warnock and won’t be joining Lindsey Graham as a Republican colleague in Washington, D.C.

Graham did not talk about Walker’s proposals or plans for the people he would represent in the state of Georgia. He never mentioned Walker’s experience, which consisted of long-past football glory and running some businesses with a debated degree of success. In fact, Walker’s buddy barely let the candidate speak in TV appearances where Graham tried for “sidekick” but instead came off as “handler.”

No, Graham’s final arguments for the Donald Trump-endorsed Walker went something like this absurd statement he yelled more than stated on Fox News: “They’re trying to destroy Herschel to deter young men and women of color from being Republicans.”

Graham said, “If Herschel wins, he’s going to inspire people all over Georgia of color to become Republicans and, I say, all over the United States.”

No, senator. In fact, the reality turned out to be quite the opposite.

If anyone by word and deed is deterring people of color from turning to the GOP, it would be one Lindsey Graham, along with other Republican leaders, exemplified by their decision to back Walker in a contest with Warnock because, in their eyes, one Black man is the same as any other. Or at least that’s what Black voters seemed to surmise.

How else to explain the endorsement of a man so clearly unqualified and uninterested in tending to the needs of the citizens of Georgia in the Senate?

You wonder if Graham and other Republicans actually talk to Black voters about the issues they might care about — say, voting rights, health care, criminal justice reform, climate change, the economy — or if they believe that personality, not policy, drives them to the polls.

You even wonder if Republicans talked to Walker, since it was clear from his sincere concession speech on election night that there was a side of the candidate seldom revealed on the campaign trail.

And who is the “they” Graham was referring to in his emotional plea? Would that be the women who lined up at great cost to recount stories of abuse at Walker’s hands? Or maybe the candidate’s conservative activist son — the one child Walker clearly acknowledged before he was forced to own up to others — who wondered why a father with so much baggage decided to expose his loved ones to the spotlight?

For Graham to set up Walker as some kind of Pied Piper able to lure African Americans to his party was an embarrassment. Actually, “insulting” is the word I most heard from Black voters upset that Republicans would choose Walker as someone who represents what it means to be a Black man.

Did Graham, as well as Nikki Haley, Rick Scott, Ted Cruz, and Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, notice the majority white audiences who showed up for Walker, or question why the candidate, in his few closing rallies, avoided making his case to Georgia voters of color in churches, colleges and communities?

There was a reason Walker received a tiny fraction of the Black vote in the general election. (And odds are he did not improve on those numbers in the runoff.) Most Black folks in Georgia were not buying what he and Graham were selling, a Black man spouting GOP talking points. The prospect of Walker as a rubber stamp for Sen. Mitch McConnell was not nearly as attractive as a six-year term for Warnock, someone a majority of the state’s voters obviously view as effective.

By the way, there is another senator representing South Carolina, who also campaigned for Walker, though less frequently and stridently than Graham.

No one of any race has ever questioned the character of GOP Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina, the former state legislator and congressman with qualifications most would judge worthy when it comes to running for high office.

But in his 2014 race, Scott, who is African-American, did not fare well among Black voters. That’s presumably because of real differences in policy on issues such as voting rights and criminal justice reform.

Most Black voters looked, judged and voted on his positions, with a majority deciding to pass.

Black voters are not a monolith and never have been. As an example, my parents were conservative Republicans who eventually drew the line at GOP “Southern Strategy” race-baiting. But it’s fair to say the majority are clear-eyed when it comes to what they choose to do in the voting booth, particularly in a state such as Georgia, where that vote was won with protest and sacrifice. In Georgia, the mandated runoff when no candidate reaches 50 percent is a product of white politicians’ effort to dilute and invalidate the wishes of African Americans when they were finally allowed to exercise their rights as citizens.

The current voting restrictions backed by Gov. Kemp forced the Warnock campaign and other Democratic groups to sue to restore a Saturday of early voting. Those long lines were a sign of a healthy democracy, and also of a lack of resources in counties that need them.

Georgians overcame every obstacle.

And if the state GOP figures out a way to make each Atlanta vote count for three-fifths of any ballot from predominantly white, rural areas, Black Georgians will figure out a way around that, too. Gerrymandering and ever more restrictive voting laws won’t work forever. And touting more Herschel Walkers is certainly not the answer.

So, Sen. Graham, don’t try to anoint role models, particularly when your party has vilified the African Americans many voters of color have actually elevated, including former President Barack Obama and, yes, Raphael Warnock.

Fulfilling your dream of inspiring more people of color to support the Republican Party would mean actually listening to them — and learning a thing or two.

This week, in Georgia, the message was loud and clear.

Having A Laugh At Walker's Big Promoters, Sean Hannity And Lindsay Graham

Having A Laugh At Walker's Big Promoters, Sean Hannity And Lindsay Graham

Fox News host Sean Hannity pulled former NFL star Herschel Walker into the race for U.S. Senate in Georgia, served as his campaign’s biggest asset, and bears responsibility for Republicans ultimately failing to oust Sen. Raphael Warnock, who beat Walker in Tuesday’s runoff.

Walker’s loss is another embarrassing defeat for Fox. The network’s influential prime-time hosts heavily promoted four unorthodox first-time candidates for U.S. Senate in the midterm elections — Walker, Blake Masters in Arizona, Dr. Mehmet Oz in Pennsylvania, and J.D. Vance in Ohio — helping them secure the Republican nominations for those races. Vance, the sole victor of the group, ran well behind the rest of his party’s slate in a red state; the other three lost winnable races in swing states, ensuring historic Democratic victories rather than a GOP “red tsunami.”

Hannity is a GOP kingmaker with the ear of top party leaders who spent Donald Trump’s presidency advising the White House. He is a relentless propagandist whose singular goal is electing Republican candidates. But when Hannity gets to pick those candidates, the results can be disastrous for his party.

For the last month, Hannity has been laser-focused on helping Walker to victory in the Georgia runoff. The Fox host has preached the importance of the race to his viewers, shielded the candidate from criticism, promoted his political ads, bolstered his fundraising, and savaged his opponent.

Walker has been a fixture on Hannity’s program even as he has hidden from credible journalists. Of Walker’s 12 weekday appearances on Fox since Election Day, five came on the host’s show — often, bizarrely, accompanied by Hannity regular Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC). The odd couple returned to the program on the eve of the runoff, with Graham using the opportunity to thank Hannity’s audience for their donations and promising them “a return on investment tomorrow.”

It didn’t turn out that way. And Hannity, who was Walker’s most important press supporter throughout the race, is a big part of the reason why Democrats will have 51 seats in the Senate rather than 50 when it convenes in 2023.

Walker’s introduction to Republican politics came as a regular on Hannity’s show during the 2020 election cycle, when his pro-Trump takes made him a MAGA sensation. Then, after Trump lost and Hannity turned his attention to the 2022 midterms, the Fox host recruited Walker to run against Warnock. In a series of interviews, Hannity urged Walker to seek the Senate seat and pushed other Republicans to support his candidacy.

GOP leaders knew from the start that Walker was a terrible candidate whose nomination would make it harder to win the seat. As I noted on the day he announced his candidacy:

Republicans have plenty of reasons to worry about Walker’s chances of winning a general election in a swing state: He’s a first-time candidate who is moving to the state for the race, he’s a conspiracy theorist, and his wife is currently under investigation by state authorities for allegedly illegally voting in Georgia while living in Texas.

And last month, The Associated Press revealed that the candidate has “repeatedly threatened his ex-wife’s life, exaggerated claims of financial success and alarmed business associates with unpredictable behavior.”

Hannity endorsed Walker on-air that very night, and his show became ground zero for the campaign. The candidate made 38 weekday Fox News appearances between his August 25, 2021, launch date and Election Day; 19 of them came on Hannity, including a purported town hall that was functionally a televised rally for Walker. With Trump and Fox both behind Walker, the Georgia primary field cleared for him.

But as Hannity was propping up Walker’s candidacy, GOP fears that he hadn’t been fully vetted were being proved correct. Journalists detailed Walker’s history of domestic violence, his previously unrevealed children, reports that he had paid for abortions, his involvement in scams, and his false claims about his academic, business, and military background.

On Election Day, Republicans won every statewide election in Georgia with at least 51% of the vote — except for the Senate race. There, Warnock secured a narrow lead that threw the race into a runoff, which he ultimately won.

Walker’s defeat makes his campaign the latest case study to demonstrate the limits of Fox’s influence. Its hosts can get their chosen candidates through the party’s primaries. But the toxic extremists who attract Fox stars' interest are often deeply alienating to normal people, and that is making it harder for the GOP to win elections. Meanwhile, the Fox personalities who wield the most influence over the party are pointing fingers at everyone but themselves.

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters.

Winning Georgia Senate Seat, Warnock Overcomes Final GOP Push

Winning Georgia Senate Seat, Warnock Overcomes Final GOP Push

In a stunning finale to 2022’s midterm elections, Georgians reelected Sen. Raphael Warnock in a runoff that concluded Tuesday night, when the incumbent Democrat and Atlanta pastor defeated Herschel Walker, a football star who was handpicked by Donald Trump but rejected by the Peach State’s diverse urban and suburban voters.

With 99 percent of precincts reporting, Warnock had won by 95,000 votes out of more than 3.4 million votes cast, a margin of 2.8 percent in a race where Warnock campaigned vigorously on his accomplishments – and the state Democratic Party and many grassroots civil rights groups urged Georgians to vote. Walker, in contrast, sought to leverage his celebrity to be elected to high office, but his campaign was shadowed by disturbing revelations about his personal life and further impaired by dodging questions and making strange statements in speeches. He conceded the race before 11 p.m.

By the campaign’s close, Walker reverted to clichéd Republican talking points that mocked Democrats, while Warnock continued to speak of his state’s unmet needs and his hope that they could be addressed in Washington. Despite that contrast in substance and leadership capacities, the runoff’s margin underscored that Georgia’s Republican voters still are a formidable and loyal bloc in one of the country’s newest battleground states.

When Warnock took the stage after 11 p.m., he pledged to work for all Georgians in sermon-like remarks that framed his election as an affirmation of American democracy’s progress.

“It is my honor to utter the four most powerful words ever spoken in a democracy: the people have spoken,” he said. “I often say that a vote is a kind of prayer for the world we desire for ourselves and for our children. Voting is faith put into action. And Georgia, you have been praying with your lips and your legs; with your hands and your feet; your heads and your hearts. You have put in the hard work, and here we are standing together.”

Warnock, who was elected to a two-year term in 2020 that also required a runoff election, is the first Black Georgian to be elected to a full term as a U.S. senator. He noted how his parents had struggled under segregation, and how voter suppression was still very much alive in his state.

“There are those who would look at the outcome of this race and say that there is no voter suppression in Georgia,” Warnock said. “Let me be clear. Just because people endured long lines that wrapped around buildings, some a block long; just because they endured the rain and the cold, and all kinds of tricks in order to vote, doesn’t mean that voter suppression does not exist. It simply means that you, the people, have decided that your voices will not be silenced.

“Let us not forget that when we entered this runoff, in a vestige of the ugly side of our complicated American story, state officials said that we couldn’t vote on Saturday,” Warnock continued. “But we sued them, and we won. And the people, once again, rose up in a multi-racial, multi-religious coalition of conscience… and you voted because you believe as I do.”

Warnock was referring to a mid-1960s state law that required a runoff when no candidate won more than 50 percent of the vote. That law was adopted to try to keep Black candidates from winning office. Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, a Republican, initially said that GOP-authored election law modifications adopted in 2021 (after Democrats won the state’s presidential and senatorial elections) barred Saturday voting in a shortened runoff season.

Ironically, various provisions in that GOP-drafted law, as well as Trump’s proclamations that the only votes that should count are those cast in person on Election Day, probably undermined Republican turnout during the runoff. As the results trickled in, it was clear that many more Democrats than Republicans took advantage of voting before Election Day, as well as using mailed-out ballots. Moreover, the weather on Tuesday across metro Atlanta and surrounding counties, where most of the state’s voters from both major parties are concentrated, was dismal – foggy, damp, and cold. Such conditions often depress turnout, especially among older voters, who are a key GOP constituency.

As the runoff came to a close, Republican strategists said that Walker needed voters in GOP-majority rural counties to turn out in comparable or slightly better numbers than in November’s general election, where he trailed Warnock by 38,000 votes. (A Libertarian candidate prevented any contender from winning more than 50 percent.) Walker also needed to boost his numbers by roughly five percent in metro Atlanta counties, where Gov. Brian Kemp, a Republican who was re-elected in November, received tens of thousands more votes than the football star.

While Republicans predicted that Kemp’s last-minute efforts to boost the former football hero's candidacy could prove pivotal, Walker never obtained the votes that he needed in the Atlanta region. In rural areas, by contrast, Walker’s support remained strong. Yet Warnock didn't lose votes in rural counties and saw his support grow in the state’s metro regions.

Visits to precincts north of Atlanta where Walker hoped to increase his support – because Kemp won by large margins – hinted that he would fall short. In a half-dozen precincts in Cobb County, a stretch of suburbs on Atlanta’s north side, the turnout was steady but generally not crowded. There were hardly any elderly voters visible. And voters repeatedly said that neither last-minute campaign ads for both candidates nor Kemp’s efforts on Walker’s behalf changed many voters' intentions.

“People had their mind made up,” said Amie Carter, who works in technology sales. “Spending all that money on paper and TV ads was probably not very influential.”

Monica Brown, a Black social scientist who worked to turn out Black voters in Cobb County, said Walker’s history of domestic violence and buffoonish campaign trail antics mortified many people in communities of color.

“When we think of Black excellence – this notion that you have to be more prepared, better – in this particular race, where was that excellence?” she asked. “We cannot afford to lessen it. What is the rationale for picking this guy?”

Steven Rosenfeld is the editor and chief correspondent of Voting Booth, a project of the Independent Media Institute. He has reported for National Public Radio, Marketplace, and Christian Science Monitor Radio, as well as a wide range of progressive publications including Salon, AlterNet, The American Prospect, and many others.

This article was produced by Voting Booth, a project of the Independent Media Institute.