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NOW to Deliver 1,500 “Tits for an Ass” to Alan Simpson (LIVESTREAM)

4:43 am in Economy, Executive Branch, Government, Politics by dcfightsback

NOW members have spoken loud and clear: they want Fiscal Commission Co-Chair Alan Simpson out – and NOW President Terry O’Neill is ready to send him home with 1,500 baby bottle nipples.

On Wednesday, Sept. 29, at the next meeting of the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, O’Neill will hand deliver nearly 1,500 baby bottle nipples from NOW members as part of its "Tits for an Ass" campaign calling for the removal of Alan Simpson.

In August, Simpson sent a petulant and insulting e-mail tirade to Executive Director Ashley Carson of the Older Women’s League (OWL), comparing Social Security to “milk cow with 310 million tits” and disparaging those who advocate on behalf of Social Security recipients as unable to “find honest work.”

“NOW’s 500,000 members and supporters responded overwhelmingly when we asked them to use our website or Twitter account to help us buy baby bottle nipples,” says O’Neill. “And I’m ready to deliver them to Mr. Simpson — as a going-away gift — when I urge him to have the decency to step down from the Fiscal Commission.

“The Fiscal Commission should be led by someone who will actually try to address the federal budget deficit, instead of using it as an excuse to undermine Social Security by cutting benefits or raising the retirement age,” O’Neill continues. “Alan Simpson is not that person.”

Livestreaming the Closed Door Fiscal Commission Pt. 5

9:00 am in Uncategorized by dcfightsback

[Ed. Note: After Alex's encounter with Alan Simpson, the committee has apparently moved the meeting location without notice. Alex is trying to find out where it is being held.]

Streaming live video by Ustream
By Alex Lawson, Communications Director for Social Security Works.

This is the fifth installment of Social Security Works’ weekly livestream of the Closed Door Debt Commission. The best action is around 9:15 a.m. and 11:30 a.m., right as members of the commission are entering and leaving.

After last week’s livestream, there is little chance this week’s will be as exciting.

So let’s dwell in the past a little.

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Livestreaming the Closed Door Debt Commission Pt. 4

8:25 am in Uncategorized by dcfightsback

By Alex Lawson, Communications Director for Social Security Works.

This is the fourth installment of our weekly livestream of the Closed Door Debt Commission. The best action is around 9:15am and 11:30am, right as members of the commission are entering and leaving.

With unemployment hovering around 10 percent following the worst economic collapse in 70 years you would think that members of Congress would be working day and night to get Americans back to work. You would be wrong.

The deficit fear mongers have done such a number on the thinking in DC that members of Congress think that when the American people say "we need jobs!" that they are really saying "cut my Social Security." But, I guess that when a billionaire Wall Street banker spreads $12 million dollars around town it can really confuse people.

So now we are faced with another DC closed door meeting where lawmakers are going to talk about what government services they can cut to placate bondholders (who in reality don’t need much placating).

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Livestreaming the Closed Door Debt Commission Pt. 3

4:59 am in Open by dcfightsback

By Alex Lawson, Communications Director for Social Security Works.

This is the third installment of our weekly livestream of the Closed Door Debt Commission. The best action is around 9:15am and 11:30am, right as members of the commission are entering and leaving.

President Obama created the Debt Commission by executive order and immediately set the tone by appointing former Senator Alan Simpson and former Clinton White House Chief of Staff Erskine Bowles.

These two picks sent a clear message; Social Security is on the chopping block.

Subsequent picks only heightened fears that the commission’s real task was to slip cuts to Social Security by a public that, for the most part, is unaware of the commission. Many of the picks have a "history of support for both benefit cuts and privatization of Social Security."

Sen. Simpson is famous for his animosity towards seniors, recently saying that for the commission to work, "You’ve got to scrub out [of] the equation the AARP, the Committee for the Preservation of Social Security and Medicare, the Gray Panthers, the Pink Panther, the whatever. Those people are lying… [They] don’t care a whit about their grandchildren…not a whit."

During the Clinton White House, Mr. Bowles was known as "Corporate America’s Friend in the White House." Only after the fact did it become clear that Erskine Bowles’ true claim to fame was as "the liaison between Clinton and Gingrich."

In his book, The Pact, author Steve Gillon reports that the biggest deal that Bowles was brokering was a partial privatization of Social Security alongside benefit cuts enacted by "raising the minimum age required for Social Security and for changing the COLA formula."

In a recent discussion, Gillon affirmed that from appearances it looks like the current commission is looking for the same "deal" as the Clinton-Gingrich "pact." And that Erskine Bowles is reprising his role as deal-maker extraordinaire.

The only difference between now and then, is that in Clinton’s time it was the budget surplus that was used to explain the need to "fix" Social Security, now it is the budget deficit being used to explain the same necessity.

Watch the livestream below from 9am-noon, Wednesday May, 19 2010.
Live streaming video by Ustream

I know that watching a closed door is not that riveting, so check out the highlights from the last two weeks here and here.

This week is the meeting of the Tax Working Group. See the membership of the working groups below.
Working Group Chart

Billionaires for Social Insecurity Ask for Donations

6:32 pm in Uncategorized by dcfightsback

Also posted at the Alliance for Retired Americans Blog

This week, Peter Peterson [net worth $2.8 billion] and his foundation convened a closed-door meeting of Wall Street billionaires and millionaires at the Ronald Reagan International Trade Building in D.C.

Peterson is a former CEO of Lehman Brothers and former chair of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. He underwrites the foundation with his own money, and his agenda is not a secret.

Peterson says the coming retirement of baby boomers is a threat to the economy and the federal budget. He wants to see significant cuts in Social Security and Medicare benefits, and would prefer a stream-lined process via a commission to implement these changes to "reduce the deficit."

After taxpayers bailed out Wall Street for over $700 billion, Peterson is worried about the deficit. And, of course the real problem is… Social Security. (The problem certainly would not be recent tax cuts, unfunded wars, and billions of taxpayer dollars squandered as bonuses to the very financial managers who brought the economy to near-ruin.)

Let’s look at the facts:

• Social Security has a $2.5 trillion surplus, which is enough to pay benefits for 25 years or more.
• Without Social Security, 55% of severely disabled workers and their families would live in poverty; 47% of elderly households would live in poverty; another 1.3 million children would fall into poverty
• Social Security’s long-term solvency can be resolved by relatively modest adjustments and without cutting benefits.

The group today which included Alan Greenspan [$5 million]; Robert Rubin [$124 million]; Congressman Paul Ryan R-WI [$2.8 million]; Erskine Bowles [$71.5 million]; John Castellani [$5.57 million 2008 salary]; Sen. Judd Gregg R-NH [$10.2 million]; and Bill Clinton [$35 million], didn’t catch the show outside the Ronald Reagan Building over lunch hour.

Some "Billionaires for Social Insecurity" in tuxedos and gowns countered the secret meeting inside with a more public ask of the public (today this happened to include large groups of children on field trips) to donate their Social Security benefits so that they, the billionaires, could continue business as usual.

Social Security, Ageism and the President’s Fiscal Commission

9:00 am in Uncategorized by dcfightsback

Co-authored by Eric Kingson, Nancy Altman and Lori Hansen.

The President’s Fiscal Commission is off to a very bad start. And it hasn’t even met!

The rhetoric of the President’s choices to chair this important commission, Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson, endangers Social Security and suggests insensitivity to 40 million older Americans.

Even before all the members of the commission were chosen, Bowles went on record before the North Carolina Bankers’ Association saying that if the Commission doesn’t "mess with Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security … America is going to be a second-rate power" in his lifetime." Hardly the statement of an objective and impartial chair of a national commission.

His co-chair, Alan Simpson, gives ugly voice to harsh, ageist stereotypes, deriding older Americans as "greedy geezers." Here’s how he described the future of the fiscal commission: "It’ll be a bloodbath. Let me tell you, everything that Bush and Clinton or Obama have suggested with regard to Social Security doesn’t affect anyone over 60, and who are the people howling and bitching the most? The people over 60. This makes no sense. You’ve got to scrub out [of] the equation the AARP, the Committee for the Preservation of Social Security and Medicare, the Gray Panthers, the Pink Panther, the whatever. Those people are lying… [They] don’t care a whit about their grandchildren…not a whit."

The nation’s serious long-term fiscal problems need to be addressed but will not be if the co-chairs consistently wrongly characterize Social Security as a fiscal drain and a cause of the nation’s long-term structural deficit. As they should know, Social Security is forbidden by federal law to borrow and can pay benefits only if it has sufficient income and assets to cover the cost.

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Social Security Works for Veterans

10:46 am in Uncategorized by dcfightsback

This is the fifth installment in our Social Security Works series. So far, we have seen how Social Security works for America, how Social Security works for women, how Social Security works for people of color, how Social Security works for people with disabilities, and today we will show how Social Security works for Veterans.

Veterans and their families make up almost 40 percent of the adult Social Security beneficiary population. This means two out of every five beneficiaries either are veterans or reside with family members who are veterans.

• Nearly one out of every four adult Social Security beneficiaries has served in the military

• Of the 23.1 million veterans, 9.4 million veterans collect Social Security benefits

• The largest number of veterans receiving Social Security benefits served during World War II: there are 3.6 million such veterans

Number of Social Security beneficiaries and the percentage who are veterans, 1968–2004
Social Security WorksSocial Security Works

There is a low incidence of poverty and near poverty among veterans compared to nonveterans.

• Among veterans aged 62-74, only 3.5 percent are poor and only 11.5 percent have income below 150 percent of poverty

• For older veterans aged 75-84, 3.6 percent are poor and 15.0 percent have income below 150 percent of poverty

• In the oldest age group, veterans aged 85 or older, only 2.9 percent are poor and 12.8 percent have income below 150 percent of poverty

• Ninety-seven percent of veterans receiving Social Security are male compared with only 43 percent of all Social Security beneficiaries

• Social Security benefit amounts are higher among veterans than among nonveterans, even when the sample of nonveterans is restricted to men

Social Security Works

While the overall Social Security beneficiary population doubled from 1968 through 2004, the number of veterans receiving Social Security more than quadrupled, increasing from just over 2 million to 9.4 million veterans, during the same period.

• The percentage of Social Security beneficiaries who have served in the military has approximately doubled since the late 1960s

• Among the veteran population receiving Social Security benefits, 73 percent are married and about 83 percent have finished high school, significantly more than for the overall Social Security beneficiary population where 54 percent of beneficiaries are married and 73 percent of beneficiaries have finished high school

Military personnel have been covered under Social Security since 1957, and those who served in 2001 or earlier receive special credits that augment their earnings for the purpose of computing Social Security benefits. Congress has also provided special credits for veterans who served before the military was brought under the Social Security system.

• For each month of active-duty service from September 1940 through 1956, a person is credited with $160 of earnings for the purpose of computing Social Security benefits

• For those who served between 1957 and 1977, credits equal $300 for each quarter of active-duty pay

• Those serving between 1978 and 2001 receive credits equal to an additional $100 in earnings for each $300 they receive in active-duty pay (total credits may not exceed $1,200 a year)

Social Security works for Veterans, Social Security works for America.

This blog series is a joint project of America’s Future and Social Security Works.

Don’t Panic! Social Security will be there for you.

2:59 pm in Uncategorized by dcfightsback

By Ashley Carson, the Executive Director of OWL- The Voice of Midlife and Older Women and www.SocialSecurityMatters.org

This week the New York Times decided to scare the bejeezus out of everyone by publishing several articles with slanted statements about Social Security. I’d like to revisit some key points in Williams Walsh’s piece from March 24 – statements from her article are in bold below.

“The bursting of the real estate bubble and the ensuing recession have hurt jobs, home prices and now Social Security.”

First of all, the real estate bubble was predicted and no one listened. In fact, it was predicted, ignored, and it is a large cause of the economic downturn and part of the larger deficit. We had to bail out banks and other financial institutions because everyone ignored the warnings about the real estate bubble. The bursting of the housing bubble doesn’t hurt Social Security the program, in fact, Social Security, the program, is designed to withstand just such miscalculations by our nation’s top economists.

The causes of our deficit are approximately $1.5 trillion to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, $1.2 trillion due to the Bush-era tax cuts, $0.9 trillion for financial rescues and recovery measures including TARP, Fannie and Freddie. As indicated by the above figures, clearly Social Security is not causing the deficit.

Social Security Works

“…payments have risen more than expected during this downturn, because jobs disappeared and people applied for benefits sooner than they had planned.”

Of course Social Security payments have risen more than expected, that’s what it’s there for. In fact, it doesn’t get any more American than Social Security. You pay in, your money is invested in US Treasury bonds, and then upon reaching retirement age, injury or loss of a parent or spouse you get money back. We have all paid our taxes and paid them so diligently that there is an enormous surplus in the Social Security trust fund that we have then borrowed to pay for other things (i.e. defense spending).

“When the level of the trust fund gets to zero, you have to cut benefits,” said Alan Greenspan.

Okay, fine – but let’s get real about when the trust fund will get to zero. The most recent report of the Social Security Trustees says that the trust fund gets to zero at 2037 – or “the year of reckoning” as Ms. Walsh calls it. Let’s be clear, this doesn’t mean that in 2037 you get $0, that all of the taxes you have paid over your entire working life vanish into thin air. It means that in 2037 the number of people receiving benefits will outweigh the people paying in making it only possible to pay you 75% of your guaranteed benefit. This is the WORST case scenario. I’m confident that we can avoid this worst case scenario if we can come to consensus on some minor changes over the next TWENTY-SEVEN YEARS. What other government program to we talk about fixing because there may or may not be a problem in almost three decades?

“The long-term costs of Social Security present further problems for politicians, who are already struggling over how to reduce the nation’s debt.”

The problems of politicians in struggling to reduce the debt should be wholly unrelated to Social Security. Social Security isn’t part of the deficit. Congress borrowed the money from Social Security because it runs a surplus and they owe the money back when it’s needed.

So is Congress going “trim the debt” by just declaring that they aren’t going to repay their loan? No, instead they are going to tell us that the one and only solution is to only pay us back part of the loan in the form of reduced Social Security benefit payments. On average, Social Security recipients receive about $13,000 annually. The figure drops to $11,000 annually for older women. Hey Congress, older women can’t live on less – in fact let’s talk about benefit increases to keep grandma out of the homeless shelter.

“Although Social Security is often said to have a “trust fund,” the term really serves as an accounting devise…”

By accounting devise, are we talking about revenues and expenditures? Because wow, a $2.5 trillion surplus is a damn good year in accounting terms…

Yes, outlays will exceed revenue eventually but not for 27 years. In business terms, knowing that you will continue to run in the black for that many years is quite reassuring and unparalleled in business or any other government program.
Benefit cuts or “raising the retirement age” another common refrain in Washington both mean the same thing: benefit cuts. We have already raised the retirement age, most people won’t collect benefits until 67. If Congress truly believes that most Americans want to work well into their seventies, good luck getting re-elected.

I say lower the retirement age, raise the cap slightly (only impacting the highest income individuals) and make everyone happy. People want to retire and young people want jobs. Problem solved.

PS. Don’t panic, you can wait 2-3 decades to make any of the tough decisions if you want some time to mull this over.

Social Security Works for People With Disabilities

1:13 pm in Uncategorized by dcfightsback

This is the fourth installment in our Social Security Works series. So far, we have seen how Social Security works for America, how Social Security works for women, how Social Security works for people of color, and today we will show how Social Security works for people with disabilities.

Since 1956, the Social Security program has provided cash benefits to people with disabilities and their families.

In December 2008:

• 9.3 million people with disabilities, their spouses and children

• 7.4 million disabled workers under the full retirement age

• 1.9 million spouses or dependent children of disabled workers

• 870,000 disabled adult children of workers who are deceased, retired or disabled

• 230,000 disabled widows or widowers of deceased workers

• Payments to disabled beneficiaries totaled more than $8.6 billion.


ssw-898.jpg

As of December 31, 2008, 154.5 million workers—over three-fourths of the U.S. workforce—are insured for disability benefits through SSDI should they become permanently disabled and unable to work and support themselves and their families. Studies show that a 20-year-old worker has a 3-in-10 chance of becoming disabled before reaching retirement age.

DI provides monthly cash benefits that replace a portion of the earnings that are lost when a person can no longer work because of a disability. Benefits are based on an individual’s past earnings (up to an annual maximum), with higher replacement rates for lower wage workers. In 2008, disabled worker beneficiaries received an average monthly benefit of $1,063.10. Beneficiaries receive inflation-protected benefits as long as they remain disabled.

When the disabled worker reaches the full retirement age (currently between 65-67 years) SSDI ends and benefits are automatically converted to retired-worker benefits.

The following graph shows just how important Social Security is to keeping families with disabled workers out of poverty.

ssw-897.jpg

Disabled workers who do not have a sufficient employment history to be covered by Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) may qualify for assistance from Supplemental Security Income (SSI).

SSI payments were another source of income for about 1 out of 6 disabled beneficiaries. About 84 percent of recipients of Supplemental Security Income, or approximately 6.3 million people, received federally administered payments on the basis of a disability.

Social Security works for people with disabilities, Social Security works for America.

This blog series is a joint project of America’s Future and Social Security Works.

Also posted at Daily Kos

Social Security Works for People of Color

3:00 pm in Uncategorized by dcfightsback

This is the third installment in our Social Security Works series. So far, we have seen how Social Security works for America, how Social Security works for women, and today we will show how Social Security works for people of color.

Social Security is neutral with respect to race and ethnicity; the benefits it pays are a function of a worker’s earnings history and family situation.

People of color face numerous structural inequities throughout their lives that Social Security, because of its progressive benefit structure, helps to alleviate.

Communities of color receive higher average returns on what they have paid into the system than do other workers. Latinos and African Americans also rely on Social Security for a greater share of their income in retirement.

ssw3

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