Virginia Residents Hold Community Forum With Senate Candidates About the Importance of Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid
Voters to Discuss Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid and Their Importance on Election Day Decisions with Governor Kaine and Senator George Allen
Voters from the state of Virginia will convene at a ‘Community Forum’ in Fairfax, VA on Wednesday, October 10, 2012 at 10:00am (EST). Both Governor Tim Kaine and Senator George Allen have been invited, Governor Kaine has confirmed his attendance, while Senator Allen has not yet responded.
Our Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid systems are vital to the economic security of Virginians. One in every six Virginians receives Social Security, one in seven receives Medicare benefits, and one in eight receives Medicaid benefits. That’s why Social Security Works is hosting a facilitated-discussion with Virginians and those who want to represent them about the future of these programs.
Social Security Works communications director Don Owens takes us through the stories of the week, including Social Security’s 77th Birthday and Vice President Joe Biden’s guarantee that “Social Security will not be changed.”
The Bowles-Simpson deficit reduction plan, authored by Erskine Bowles and former Senator Alan Simpson (R-WY), is once again being discussed in Congress as a possible model for bipartisan deficit reduction legislation. Members of Congress should know that the Bowles-Simpson plan would cut Social Security benefits for today’s and tomorrow’s beneficiaries. Of even greater concern, it would end Social Security as we know it. Specifically, the Bowles-Simpson plan would:
• Drastically cut the benefits of middle-class families. The Bowles-Simpson proposal cuts Social Security’s retirement, survivors, and disability benefits by between 19% and 42% for young people entering the workforce today. 1
• Reduce the annual Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) for current and future Social Security beneficiaries. The Bowles-Simpson proposal would cut the COLA for current and future Social Security beneficiaries, reducing benefits more with every passing year. This would prevent benefits from keeping up with increases in the cost of living overtime. Under these plans, retirees claiming benefits at 65 would see their benefits decline by 3.7% at age 75, by 6.5% at age 85, and 9.2% at age 95. 2
• Raise the Full Retirement Age to 69, and the Earliest Eligibility Age to 64. Because of the way that Social Security benefits are calculated, raising the retirement age, as the Bowles-Simpson proposal recommends, is indistinguishable from an across-the-board benefit cut, no matter how long workers continue to work – even when they work to age 70 and beyond. Raising the full retirement age by two full years amounts to a 13% benefit cut, on top of the 13% cut already made when the retirement age was increased from 65 to 67. 3 The cuts are hardest for workers in physically demanding jobs, poor health, or who are otherwise unable to continue to work.
• Radically restructure the program. The Bowles-Simpson proposal would destroy Social Security by stealth. It would eliminate a fundamental and carefully-crafted feature that has been part of the program since the beginning: the link between benefits and earnings. As Figure 1 shows, over time, everyone would receive nearly the same subsistence-level benefit unrelated to wages.
• Cut benefits for the most vulnerable. More than half of all workers with an annual income of about $11,000 would see their benefits cut by about 16% under the Bowles-Simpson proposal. 4
1- Social Security Administration (SSA), Table 1B1 in Letter from Stephen C. Goss, Chief Actuary of the Social Security Administration, to Fiscal Commission Co-Chairs and Bipartisan policy Center Debt Reduction Task Force Co-Chairs, February 2, 2010. http://ssa.gov/oact/solvency/BowlesSimpsonRivlinDomenici_20110202.pdf. Office of the Chief Actuary (OCACT) of the Social Security Administration (SSA), Table 2B1 in Letter from Stephen C. Goss, Chief Actuary of the Social Security Administration, to Fiscal Commission CoChairs and Bipartisan policy Center Debt Reduction Task Force Co-Chairs, February 2, 2010. http://ssa.gov/oact/solvency/BowlesSimpsonRivlinDomenici_20110202.pdf
2- OCACT, SSA, Tables 1B1 and 2B1 in Letter from Stephen C. Goss, Chief Actuary of the Social Security Administration, to Fiscal Commission CoChairs and Bipartisan policy Center Debt Reduction Task Force Co-Chairs, February 2, 2010. http://ssa.gov/oact/solvency/BowlesSimpsonRivlinDomenici_20110202.pdf
3- Each one-year increase represents a cut of 6% to 7%. Social Security Administration (SSA), “Effect of Early or Delayed Retirement on Retirement Benefits,” 2010. Available at http://www.ssa.gov/OACT/ProgData/ar_drc.html. Social Security’s full retirement age is slowly rising from 65, where it was for those first accepting their retired worker benefits at age 62 or older before 2000, to age 67 for those who are first eligible to receive retired worker benefits at age 62 in 2022. A chart of retirement benefits by age is at http://www.ssa.gov/retire2/agereduction.htm
4- According to Social Security’s Chief Actuary, about 60 percent of actual “Very Low” earners, those with earnings of around $10,771, would have their benefits cut under the Bowles-Simpson proposal, because they would neither qualify for a hardship exemption, nor be helped by the proposed minimum benefit. (The Chief Actuary assumes that the hardship exemption would require 25 or more years of covered employment. As under current law, the full enhanced minimum benefit would only be available to workers with 30 years of covered employment.) Office of the Chief Actuary (OCACT) of the Social Security Administration (SSA), Table 2B1 in Letter from Stephen C. Goss, Chief Actuary of the Social Security Administration, to Fiscal Commission Co-Chairs and Bipartisan policy Center Debt Reduction Task Force Co-Chairs, February 2, 2010. http://ssa.gov/oact/solvency/BowlesSimpsonRivlinDomenici_20110202.pdf
Groups representing middle class families to hold discussion on national budget outside Pete Peterson’s elite gathering
WATCH SENATOR SANDERS LIVE STARTING AT 1:30PM ET
On May 15, Sen. Bernie Sanders will join with citizen groups to protest the Peter G. Peterson “Fiscal Summit” where elite power brokers including House Budget Committee Chair Paul Ryan (R-WI), House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH), former Sen. Alan Simpson, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner and former President Bill Clinton will gather inside to discuss a so-called “grand bargain” budget that will cut Medicare, Social Security and Medicaid.
Senator Bernie Sanders, Terry O’Neill, president of the National Organization for Women, Max Richtman, president of the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare, Roger Hickey, co-director of the Campaign for America’s Future and Maya Rockeymoore, president of Global Policy Solutions, will join activists on Tuesday, May 15 at 1:30 p.m., at 1301 Constitution Avenue NW outside the Andrew Mellon Auditorium in Washington D.C. to protest conservative austerity plans and say, “Hands Off Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.”
The austerity protest is sponsored by the Campaign for America’s Future, Health Care for America Now, Progressives United, CREDO Action, Social Security Works, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, the National Committee to Protect Social Security and Medicare, and the National Organization for Women.
The 1% is using the super-secret Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction (a.k.a. the Super Committee), to reach directly into the pockets of the 99% and steal hundreds of billions of dollars from them. This committee has unprecedented power. It has been meeting behind closed doors for weeks. Finally, though, its plans are leaking out, and they are not pretty.
In order to spare defense contractors, the pharmaceutical industry, and other fat cats, while appeasing the credit agencies, whose AAA ratings to crony-clients helped crash the economy, the Supercommittee has proposed slashing benefits for current and future beneficiaries of Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, notwithstanding that the current deficit has nothing to do with these programs.
Neither Social Security, which by law, cannot borrow a penny, nor Medicare, nor Medicaid is to be found among the causes. That hasn’t stopped the Super Committee, though.
The following chart shows the causes of our current deficits:
Politicians of all stripes routinely assert that any changes they make to Social Security will not hurt current beneficiaries or those close to retirement. Despite countless promises by politicians, a majority of the Super Committee members plan to do just that.
Alex Lawson talked about the status of Social Security and the government announcement on October 19, 2011, that beginning in January 2012 fifty-five million Social Security recipients would get a 3.6 percent increase in benefits. This raise, the first since 2009, would be offset by increases in Medicare payments. He also reacted to an advertisement titled “No Cuts” from the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare and to a video clip of Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) questioning Barbara Bovbjerg at an October 18, 2011, committee hearing. Mr. Lawson responded to telephone calls and electronic communications.
If you agree that the supercommittee needs to keep their Hands Off Social Security and be open to the public you can call Senator Murray and Rep. Hensarling to demand they broadcast all meetings, not just the opening statements and canned speeches. Click here for phone numbers and a script.
Last year, my livestream interview with Alan Simpson on FDL following a closed door meeting of the Catfood Commission helped expose the backroom shenanigans and attempts to destroy Social Security that were being hidden from the American people.
Now we face an even greater threat to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid from the Supercommittee. I’ll be livestreaming again today, and after the meeting I hope to catch up with some of the committee members once again.
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