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Posts Tagged 'fiscal commission'

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Tell the Fiscal Commission - No Way

After watching today's fiscal commission meeting it appears, as expected, it's unlikely there will be 14 members in support of the Fiscal Commission's report.  That vote will come on Friday and there are several key Democratic members who NEED to hear from seniors today.   Based on their comments today, it appears some these folks will ultimately vote against this report; however, they are not all expressing the clear reservations we would expect to hear from members who support Social Security and Medicare.  We urge you to offer these members a respectful, yet clear reminder of why deep cuts in benefits, raising the retirement age, cost sharing in Medicare, and countless other provisions don't represent  the "shared sacrifice" promised by this commission. Tell them cutting Social Security benefits to avoid paying back the billions you’ve contributed for a working lifetime to the Trust Fund is NOT the “shared sacrifice” Washington promised.  Middle class Americans can not continue to foot the bill for Washington’s fiscal failures. They should Vote NO on a fiscal commission report that uses Social Security as Washington’s piggy bank! Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) 202-224-2152 Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT) 202-224-2651 Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-CA) 202-225-6235

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Fiscal Commission Says Cut Social Security

National Committee President/CEO Barbara Kennelly’s Statement on Fiscal Commission Report Release

 “The report released by the President’s Fiscal Commission today continues to lack the balanced approach to deficit and debt reduction the American people have said clearly and repeatedly they expect.  Social Security never had a legitimate place in any deficit reduction discussion.  Yet this Fiscal Commission report relies heavily on benefit cuts impacting working Americans to pay the price of failed economic policies of the past. It’s clear that too many in Washington will continue to search for a way to reduce Social Security benefits in order to avoid repaying the $2.6 trillion dollars in bonds currently credited to Social Security.  If we’re truly concerned about the future of middle-class America, then strengthening Social Security by closing its modest funding gap is a critical first step.  But the policy choices we make in strengthening Social Security should be guided by what’s good for the program and not what’s wrong with the budget.  Washington must stop ignoring the critical role Social Security continues to play for older Americans, their families and the economy as a whole. This report does not meet that very basic standard of fiscal fairness and that is why it should not receive the 14 required commission votes to proceed. ”…Barbara B. Kennelly, President/CEO   

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Call Congress TODAY!

There are 3.8 trillion reasons why you should take a minute today to call Congress and tell your representatives why cutting Social Security in the name of deficit reduction is fiscal and political suicide.  The 3.8 trillion reasons represent the $3.8 trillion dollars you will contribute throughout your working life to the Social Security Trust Fund – the fund that Washington’s fiscal hawks now don’t want to pay back.  That was real money when it came out of your paycheck and it’s still real money – not worthless IOU’s – that the federal government promised to repay working Americans, that is, unless Washington passes benefit cuts like those proposed by the Fiscal Commission Chairmen.   Today is National Call-In day and we urge everyone to make it clear to Washington that proposals to make deep cuts in Social Security has nothing to do with deficit reduction and everything to do with breaking a promise made to millions of Americans, including retirees, the disabled, survivors and their families.     And while you’ve got them on the phone also make it clear that seniors need COLA relief.  Congress is back in session for a few short weeks and this is their last chance to pass COLA relief for seniors this year.  Please call your Senators and Representative and tell them to oppose budget-driven Social Security benefit cuts and put much needed $250 checks into the hands of older Americans by supporting H.R. 5987 and S. 1685.  The National Committee’s toll free Legislative Hotline will connect you with your members of Congress with one simple call: 

800-998-0180

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Will Lame Duck Congress Pass COLA Relief?

Legislation in the House and Senate to provide one-time emergency COLA relief for seniors is expected to be considered in the lame duck session of Congress before it wraps up its work next month.  House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has included COLA relief on her list of must-pass items and Majority Leader Harry Reid has promised to take it up in the Senate.  Let’s be clear about what this bill would do. The legislation would not provide an actual COLA increase, since under current law the COLA formula mandated no increase in 2010 and 2011; however, this legislation would provide a single $250 payment next year.  You may remember, a similar provision was included in the 2009 stimulus bill  and was successful in providing modest relief to seniors hit hard by the recession and also providing desperately needed economic stimulus.    But passage of this COLA bill is anything but certain.  Deficit hawks continue their campaign against anything vaguely resembling help for the middle class and, in fact, the chairmen of the Fiscal Commission now suggest that the current formula (which led to zero COLA’s for two years) is actually too generous.  They want a new and less “generous” COLA formula enacted as soon as 2012.  Cutting the COLA during the worst economic crisis in decades would be disastrous for millions of Americans but it is exactly what multi-billionaire and anti-entitlement crusader Pete Peterson has advocated as far back as the 1970’s.  We detailed some of that history here:  

Peterson is no stranger to the battle against America’s retirement safety net.  He’s called the current cost of living increases in Social Security, which provide adjustments of roughly 3% a year, “one of the greatest fiscal tragedies of American history” because he considers them excessive.  At the same time, Peterson steadfastly defends a controversial private equity tax break that benefits America’s wealthiest investors. So much for fiscal responsibility.  
With $1 billion dollars invested in his anti-Social Security , oops we mean fiscal responsibility campaign, passage of this COLA relief legislation will be difficult.  In fact, members of Congress are being told they’re “political cowards” if they don’t cut Social Security.  Now is the time for you to let Congress know that cutting Social Security while extending tax breaks for the wealthy shows anything but political courage.   Send your representatives in the House and Senate an email directly from our Legislative Action center on our website or from our Facebook page.  You can use the sample letter we’ve provided or, even better, write your own. The COLA vote could come at any time so please forward the links to your friends and tell Congress to support COLA relief legislation.

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When Shared Sacrifice Really Just Means Cut Social Security

Fiscal Committee Chairmen, Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles, have argued their plan for Social Security is solely about solvency. Really?  As the Social Security actuaries have said, beneficiaries would face a potential 22% benefit cut after 2037, if Congress does nothing.  Yet under Simpson/Bowles, workers who earned $37,400 annually (that’s about half of Social Security recipients) would actually take a 35-41% cut!  While Simpson/Bowles promise these benefit cuts will only impact high income earners, there’s a catch. Anyone who made $38,000 a year during their working years is considered a “high income” earner.  Yes, that’s right.  When it comes to raising the payroll tax, Simpson/Bowles worries that a .1% payroll hike phased in over decades might be too big a burden for workers making $100,000 a year, yet when it comes to benefit cuts you’re considered “upper income” if you earn a third of that.  In short, a so-called “high income” worker making $38,000 can afford to pay their taxes and take a benefit cut but don’t expect those making six-figures to pay their share of payroll taxes.  Angry Bear describes it this way: 

Coberly and I (and some others) have been warning for years about the dangers of turning Social Security from an insurance program with mild progressive transfers to a welfare system. Well this is a pure illustration of that, I can't imagine any scheme designed to more undermine support for Social Security than one that calls for earners in the top 50% taking a cut even from the projected cut. The answer to a 'crisis' defined as an ultimate 25% cut in scheduled benefit is for upper income folk to take a 35-41% cut? All in an effort to save them a phased in 0.1% of payroll per year increase over the next 20 years?
National Committee Executive VP, Max Richtman, talked about the lack of balance in this proposal on Pacifica Radio’s Letters to Washington  Shared Sacrifice  Another favorite line by fiscal hawks and these Fiscal Committee chairmen is the call for all Americans to sacrifice for the good of our country.  We agree. However, as our President/CEO, Barbara Kennelly has said, the sacrifice in this plan is anything but shared: 
“America’s retirees, disabled and their families had hoped for a balanced approach to solving our nation’s fiscal crisis.  Unfortunately, that is not what we received in today’s report by the Chairmen of the President’s Fiscal Commission.  This proposal relies far too heavily on benefit cuts which will hurt millions of Americans.  Lowering COLA’s which hit even current retirees, raising the retirement age, and making benefit cuts in Social Security have nothing to do with solving this fiscal crisis and do not offer a balanced solution to debt reduction by any stretch of the imagination.”
How’s this for balance--the way Simpson/Bowles propose we get to long term solvency for Social Security is with  92% of the solution coming from benefit cuts for seniors, the disabled, survivors and their families.  Forget the conventional wisdom, inside Washington and out, that the answer to long-term solvency would be a combination of revenue increases and benefit cuts.  That type of compromise is tough enough to get these days, but it is also the only way to ensure a fair and balanced result.  Is proposing a solution which is 92% benefits cuts truly and example of shared sacrifice?  If we really want to preach balance, how about lifting the payroll tax cap entirely?  The American people  have said repeatedly they’ll pay a little extra to keep the modest benefits provided by Social Security and Medicare.  Or, how about a financial transaction tax?   Is it really so absurd to think that America’s wealthiest Americans and the industry that helped create this economic collapse in the first place share some of the sacrifice to fix it?  By all accounts, neither of these options were seriously considered by Simpson/Bowles.  So much for promises of a balanced approach with shared sacrifices.  This plan isn’t even close.

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