On Wednesday, Aug 8, Senator Gary Peters held a “Dinner with Senator Peters” as part of his around the state motorcycle tour. It was a perfect night for the event. Dems had a strong turn out for the primary, Matt Morgan set a historical record for write in votes, we had a nearly full house for the event, and even the weather was excellent.
We had a room full of buoyant candidates including Matt Morgan for US Congress, Jim Page for Michigan Senate, Dan O’Neil for Michigan House, Steve Horne for County Commission, and Tom Wertz for County Commission.
After a delightful time mixing and chatting, the Senator gathered us for a Q&A session. I was able to capture some of the discussion:
Social Security (and funding):
Peters pointed out that the real problem is the erosion of income for the middle class; this results in lower revenue for the Social Security System. (The Senator did not give the exact numbers, but I provide them here: The Top 1% get 20% of all the income in the US. This share has doubled since the 70’s. Half of all the income in the US goes to the top 20%. This income inequality is worse than it has been since 1928.) The senator suggested that solving this problem will solve our Social Security funding problem.
When asked about removing the cap on Social Security Taxes, he agreed that removing the cap would be one method of addressing the funding issue.
Peters closed this discussion by emphasizing that he would oppose any attempt to raise the retirement age.
Senator Peters is a proud member of the Senate Armed Services Committee. He said he favors a strong military and cited the global threats we face, including Russia. When asked about funding for the military he responded that we should not do a $2 Trillion tax cut for the upper 1%.
Peters was asked if there was any hope of returning to a congress that could work in a bipartisan manner. The Senator responded that bipartisan work is ongoing, but not on the “larger issues”. He explained the problem by citing the case of DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) where a bipartisan solution was created only to have the President reverse his position and quash it. Peters said his Republican colleagues are not willing to go against Trump on the major issues; the solution will have to be defeating Trump in 2020.
Senator Peters said he is working with Senator Stabenow on preserving the auto emission standards. He said that the automobile makers are not asking for retraction of the standards, but would like some help in simplification and alignment of standards between EPA and NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration). He said he found GM was strongly committed to electric vehicles.
When asked about healthcare, Peters said that he favors “Medicare for All” but that we needed some work before Americans were ready to embrace that.
He favors beginning with Medicare at 55. He said this expansion would add to the cohort that comes to know and like Medicare which would build support.
He favors making Medicare an option as part of the Affordable Care Act. He wants a public option to compete with the private offerings. He feels Medicare is the obvious solution for a public offering.
Senator Peters strongly advocates for allowing Medicare to negotiate drug prices.
The evening concluded with a warm round of greetings and individual discussion. Both the crowd and Peters himself did a delightful job of frustrating the efforts of his staff to move him onto his next event.