South Carolina is front and center as the 2024 Republican presidential primary begins in earnest. Voters in the Palmetto State are eager to hear what solutions candidates have to issues like crime, border security, and Washington’s out-of-control spending as candidates begin to make the rounds at town halls, breakfasts, and other speaking events.
However, the biggest issue on voters’ minds is without a doubt Social Security, and if any Republican presidential hopeful wants to win over South Carolina voters, they’ll need to make it clear they plan to protect South Carolinians’ essential retirement benefits.
I represent a city council district in West Columbia and many of my constituents are men and women who worked hard for many years, paid into the system, and rely on their Social Security.
Protecting Social Security should be a major priority for Republican candidates making stops here. The majority of Republican voters are over the age of 40. Forty-six percent are over the age of 50, and 48 percent are 65 or older. Overall, 73 percent of self-identified Republicans support strengthening Social Security protections, meaning that any winning platform should emphasize keeping retirement benefits intact.
But some candidates, including our own former Governor Nikki Haley, have promised to take actions that would cut retirement benefits. Former Governor Haley has called for raising the retirement age, a position she’s doubled down on despite facing criticism. Likewise, former Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson has, in the past, indicated that he would support privatizing Social Security. Recently, he said “changes” are needed to the program. Former Vice President Mike Pence has told news outlets that lawmakers should introduce so-called “common sense reforms” to Social Security.
Former Governor Haley, former Governor Hutchinson, and former Vice President Pence will need to do better if they hope to gain traction with voters here in South Carolina. In the Palmetto State, more than 63,000 people rely on Social Security to receive retirement benefits, so pushing for cuts or changes to the program will not translate into a policy platform that resonates with voters, especially when so many of the voters depend on their retirement benefits to make ends meet.
Other candidates have wisely promised on the record to protect Social Security, including Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who backtracked from his previous support for cuts to the program. When a top candidate like Governor DeSantis adjusts his platform, it underscores the importance of protecting Social Security to primary voters in the Palmetto State and across the country. South Carolinians have worked hard to earn their retirement benefits for decades, and the last thing we want to hear from a presidential contender is bad policy that could put our hard-earned money in jeopardy. Any candidate who hopes to one day lead this great nation should commit now to protecting our benefits if they wish for South Carolinians to take them seriously as contenders.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR …
David B. Moye is a West Columbia city councilman, real estate investor and broker, and a father.
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