11/16/2012 05:59 pm ET Updated Jan 16, 2013

The Grand Senior Swindle

Scam artists and hucksters are infamous for preying on seniors with fraudulent proposals and rip-offs. Now some in Congress are trying to pull a fast one on seniors by swindling our economy. The fiscal showdown is headed toward disaster unless we demand a prosperity economy that works for seniors and all of us.

The looming fiscal showdown would slash Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and many of the other public programs on which seniors rely. Even in floating alternative programs to automatic cuts, many in Congress want to put Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid on the chopping block. According to exit polls from the recent election, by a 64-to-17 percent margin, American voters of all ages want to protect Social Security and Medicare and address the deficit by raising taxes on millionaires and billionaires instead of cutting entitlements. Parties and politicians who would rather put massive pain on seniors than a small pinch for the rich will find themselves sorely rebuked in the next election.

But the bigger problem is that these cuts will stall the economy, not spur it. You don't have to have 65 years of perspective to realize that the Bush-era tax cuts for the rich have not created jobs and won't magically do so if they're continued. In fact, according to one study, tax cuts have entirely failed to create economic growth over the last 65 years. What has worked is a balanced approach, including strong public investments in Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security that supports Americans while creating jobs--like the millions of care workers who help our seniors and others and pump money back into the economy.

Now is the time to continue to grow--not slow--our economy, by investing in care jobs and infrastructure for seniors and all Americans who need help, so that all of us--and our economy--can prosper. Those who have made it to their golden years in America understand that success involves hard work and investment. The generation now turning 65 has seen first-hand the value of the GI Bill and government-subsidized student loans that help young Americans leverage their potential for the future. Seniors have built equity in homes they paid for with debt and got tax-write offs courtesy of the government. They've lived a lifetime traveling from public schools to public highways to public Medicare, the vital stepping-stones of private opportunity put in place by government investment. And thanks to these public investments, today's seniors witnessed the rise of the American middle class -- and now understand that our way of life is threatened if we reverse the policies that made our economy great.

More than ever before in our lifetimes, we need strong government investment that grows our economy, not drastic cuts that shrink prosperity and opportunity. America's seniors, who have worked so hard to build a strong economy and democracy in their lifetimes, need reliable and robust government in their golden years. And the millions of workers who provide care for seniors, like all workers, need good jobs and more of them--including living wages and basic rights like collective bargaining. Cutting public spending and firing public workers will not only cut off vital support to our seniors but cut off our economy at the knees--just when we need to be growing. Seniors, workers and all of us are wise to the prospects of a Grand Swindle--and instead, demand a prosperous economy that works for all of us.

Sarita Gupta is also the Co-Director of the Caring Across Generations Campaign.