Font Size

Astroturf Anti-Social Security Group Unmasked

Just a year and a half after it’s much ballyhooed launch, with dancing cans and supposedly serious politicos doing the Harlem Shake, Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson’s “The Can Kicks Back” astroturf group is running out of funds.

Politico broke the story this week.

“The Can Kicks Back — which targets millennials and was conceived as a partner and affiliate of the group Fix the Debt — is running low on cash, according to emails and documents reviewed by POLITICO.

 

The group left a history of documents, including financial statements and internal deliberations over policy decisions, online in a Google Group that was open to public view but was recently closed. Those documents provide a peek into the day-to-day planning and operation of a modern public affairs campaign, one that publicly presented itself as driven by grass-roots energy but largely relied on big donors and wealthy Wall Street types for funding.”

 

“One fundraising problem The Can Kicks Back has faced is the entirely accurate perception that it is not actually a grassroots organization of young people deeply concerned with reckless entitlement spending and unsustainable long-term debt, but rather yet another front group — and in this case a particularly ineffective one — for the small network of billionaires who have spent decades advocating tax cuts and the rolling back of Social Security and Medicare benefits, in the name of fiscal responsibility.” Salon

For true grassroots organizations, tough economic times usually mean you turn to your grassroots membership for support.  What is especially telling in The Can Kicks Back’s case is that according to internal emails obtained by Politico TCKB turned –not to the millennials they claim to represent – but to their true base, America’s 1%.

“According to emails, it also took meetings or made fundraising asks of former oil and gas executive T. Boone Pickens, aerospace magnate Norman R. Augustine and First Pacific CEO Bob Rodriguez, among others, since 2012.

 

The group has also approached Fix the Debt for additional financial resources and brainstormed a list of donors to be set up with that included former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Blackrock CEO Larry Fink, salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff, venture capitalist Reid Hoffman, eBay CEO John Donahoe and others.” 

TCKB is suffering from more than just a lack of finances. It also suffers from a lack of a true identity, since the public never quite bought their claims of being an independent grassroots supported movement.

“In response to a 2012 Slate piece by reporter Dave Weigel linking The Can Kicks Back with the billionaire anti-debt activist Peter Peterson, Eisenstadt argued that the group should request a correction — saying that the perception that they are Peterson-funded was hurting their credibility, according to an email thread.

 

‘Technically one can make an argument that we are…” (THCKB organizer) Parent wrote back in an email. ‘We receive most of our money from [Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget], which has received large amounts of funding from Peterson.’  Slate never appended a correction to the piece.”

You might be tempted to write off this story as just one example of a financially troubled Washington advocacy group trying to stay afloat.  But as the New York Times’ Paul Krugman reports, it’s much more than that.  The Can Kicks Back story gives us all a seldom seen glimpse inside Washington’s web of astrotruf advocacy groups posing as representatives for a constituency with which they have virtually no contact.  All the while they’re actually doing the business of America’s corporate and Wall Street backed interests. 

“they show how much of what passes for genuine expression of public concern is really just a bought and paid-for (or, in the case of The Can, not sufficiently paid-for) front for plutocratic priorities.”

 Lastly, the Huffington Post provides the most detailed description of the internal emails showing just how phony, this astroturf group truly is. 

 

NCPSSM Launches "Boost Social Security Now" Campaign

Education campaign will push for better benefits for workers, retirees and their families

We're building upon the growing public support for expanding Social Security by launching the Boost Social Security Now education campaign to inform and mobilize our membership, grassroots networks and on-line communities to convince Congress that now is the time to boost benefits, not cut them. For more than 30 years NCPSSM has been recognized as one of the nation’s most ardent and effective defenders of America’s social insurance safety net. In 2012, the National Committee expanded its focus on Social Security with the release of a proposal to modernize benefits, which included caregiver credits, shifting the annual cost of living adjustment formula to one designed for elderly consumers and improving the basic benefit of all current and future beneficiaries.  Since that time, the call for expanded benefits has grown louder and includes support from within Congress including Senators Elizabeth Warren, Tom Harkin and Bernie Sanders, and Representatives Linda Sanchez and Gwen Moore.  

For years, Washington’s fiscal debate has been co-opted by the billion dollar austerity lobby and its single-minded quest to cut middle-class benefits in Social Security and Medicare to reduce the deficit.  Their anti-Social Security mission ignores the cold hard economic realities facing millions of retirees, the disabled, widows and children.  That’s why the National Committee, on behalf of its millions of members and supporters nationwide, is saying enough is enough.  Now is the time to boost Social Security benefits, not cut them. It’s the right thing to do for our economy and America’s middle-class families and this is the right time to do it”...Max Richtman, NCPSSM President/CEO

The National Committee has endorsed nine different pieces of legislation that would enhance Social Security, including S. 567 and HR 3118 which, when fully phased in, would boost benefits by approximately $70 per month and adopt the more accurate consumer price index for the elderly (CPI-E). As a fiscally responsible way to increase and strengthen Social Security finances we also support lifting the payroll tax cap.

Today, Social Security’s average monthly benefit of just $1,269 is 90% or more of retirees’ income for 46% of unmarried elderly and 23% of married couples.   Social Security will be even more important to future generations, especially the Recession Generation which faces income loss, diminished net worth, and high unemployment during their vital income earning years, all of which ultimately impacts their retirement. 

Social Security’s positive economic impact shouldn’t be ignored. American families spend $775 billion in Social Security benefits nationwide each year, providing vital economic stimulus to local businesses and state economies they wouldn’t have without Social Security.

The goal of our Boost Social Security Now campaign is straightforward: Congress should increase Social Security benefits now to protect the economic security of millions of American families. 

Seniors and the State of the Union

Here’s reaction to last night’s State of the Union address  from National Committee President/CEO, Max Richtman:

“American families, across generations, will be encouraged to see our President acknowledge that job creation and economic insecurity are among the greatest challenges facing millions of average Americans. President Obama is right, too many have been left behind and still face unemployment, stagnant wages and an insecure future, even as the economy recovers.  The President’s promise of a year of action to restore the basic bargain that built this country should also include preserving and strengthening the nation’s retirement and health security programs, Social Security and Medicare.

While we support proposals that encourage independent savings strategies, the surest and most time-tested path to economic security for older Americans is through the Social Security program. We urge the President to use his power and influence to boost the nation’s retirement system which has successfully served millions of Americans for more than 78 years.  

Social Security benefits are not keeping pace with the cost of living in America. The average monthly benefit of $1269 is akin to a monthly paycheck for a worker on minimum wage. While the President is committed to raising the federal minimum wage to $10 per hour for workers, we would also like to see the President support an increase of $70 per month in Social Security benefits for retired workers as proposed by Senator Tom Harkin and Congresswoman Linda Sanchez in S.567 /H.R.3118.  This benefit improvement could be paid for by lifting the payroll wage cap.

Rather than calling for benefits cuts through proposals like the Chained CPI, we should be talking about boosting benefits, adopting the more accurate consumer price index for the elderly (CPI-E) and increasing the minimum benefit formula. We urge the President to remember that reducing already modest benefits to seniors isn’t the path to economic security. The future of America’s retirees must remain a part of this debate. “…Max Richtman, NCPSSM President/CEO

                                                                      

Celebrating Our Social Security & Medicare Successes

We've seen a constant threat to Social Security and Medicare benefits coming from Washington over the past many years.   While the war to preserve and strengthen these vital programs certainly isn't over (for example the President's budget, the debt ceiling fight, are still ahead in 2014), it's important to celebrate the battles we have already won. And they are many.  Thanks to our vigilant NCPSSM activists for their hard work in reminding Washington why the vast majority of Americans of all ages and political parties do not support cutting benefits. 

30 Years of Fighting and Winning to Protect Your Benefits

2013

A year of fiscal crises repeatedly threatened benefit cuts to Social Security and Medicare. The National Committee successfully prevented a Social Security Cost-of-Living Adjustment (COLA) cut and an increase in the Medicare eligibility age from being written into the fiscal cliff bill. We also defeated efforts to continue the two-year-old Social Security payroll tax holiday that was undermining the Social Security system. 

The National Committee launched a nationwide pilot to inform America’s same sex couples of their new rights to Social Security benefits after the Supreme Court’s Defense of Marriage Act decision in 2012.

Joining with other advocates, we delivered more than 2 million petitions to the White House protesting President Obama’s plan to cut Social Security benefits through the Chained CPI.

2012

NCPSSM President/CEO, Max Richtman, met with President Obama and other national leaders at the White House to talk about fiscal challenges facing the nation. He urged the President to preserve Social Security and Medicare benefits in ongoing budget debates.

We stopped a proposal to increase Medicare premiums from becoming part of legislation to extend the Social Security payroll tax holiday.   

2011

The Congressional “Super Committee” hoped to solve the federal debt crisis by cutting Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, but thanks to our lobbying efforts, a national ad campaign and the work of our grassroots activists, the Super Committee adjourned without reaching consensus on any plan to cut benefits.                                             

The National Committee helped win the battle to save traditional Medicare from the House Budget Committee Chairman’s dangerous proposal to privatize the program.  Privatization benefits insurance companies at your expense, making it harder for seniors to choose their own doctor while cutting prescription drug, preventive care and nursing home benefits.

For the third time in over a decade, we successfully protected Social Security and Medicare funds from being cut by a Balanced Budget Constitutional Amendment. Your signed petitions and letters along with our grassroots opposition helped turn the tide against this harmful amendment. 

The National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare launched the largest grassroots mobilization and media campaign in its long history of defending  programs vital to millions of Americans.  Millions of Americans engaged Congress and we successfully fought back against benefits cuts to Social Security and Medicare.

2010

NCPSSM fought to ensure Medicare was improved and strengthened as part of the Affordable Care Act by lowering beneficiaries’ out-of-pocket costs and closing the Part D prescription drug “donut hole” and making preventive services available to people with Medicare for free.

2009

Seniors received stimulus checks as part of the federal stimulus plan thanks to our successful lobbying efforts.  The initial proposal for the Recovery and Reinvestment Act targeted all workers, but excluded non-employed seniors. Seniors were included in the final bill.  This time seniors were not required to complete any IRS filings and automatically received checks.

2008

We led the battle to stop the harmful “Medicare Trigger” that would have imposed an arbitrary 45 percent cap on the government’s funding of Medicare.  And we achieved victory, although temporary, convincing Congress to postpone this harmful provision of the Medicare Modernization Act.

The National Committee helped persuade Congress to pass the Medicare Improvements for Patients and Providers Act (MIPPA), which reduced taxpayer handouts to private Medicare plans, improved benefits for mental health and averted a 10.6 percent cut in fees to physicians who treat Medicare patients, helping to preserve beneficiary access to doctors and other practitioners.

2007

NCPSSM lobbied Congress to strengthen Medicare.  The House ultimately passed legislation strengthening Medicare for future generations and correcting many of the flaws in the Medicare Modernization Act of 2003.

We fought against harmful budget cuts at the Social Security Administration (SSA) and ultimately convinced Congress to increase funding levels and thereby prevent massive furloughs at the SSA.  Those increased funds averted office closures all over the nation in 2007.  After continued intense lobbying, Congress approved funding for Fiscal Year 2008 at $451 million over the previous year’s level, helping speed up disability reviews.

2005 & 2006

The National Committee successfully mobilized to stop the most serious attempt ever to partially privatize Social Security, flooding Capitol Hill with petitions and letters to Congress and the White House reaffirming seniors’ rejection of private Social Security accounts.  Town hall meetings, Capitol Hill briefings, television appearances and our member-supported media campaign also helped erode and reverse lawmakers’ support for privatization legislation.  (Today, we continue to hold the line on privatization for the 23rd consecutive year!)

2005

NCPSSM launched an aggressive campaign to protect Social Security Cost-of-Living Adjustments (COLAs) from soaring Medicare out-of-pocket costs.  Under the Medicare Modernization Act of 2003, annual increases in Medicare deductibles have joined premiums in being indexed to rising health care inflation, and out-of-pocket costs will eventually consume nearly half of the average Social Security benefit check.  Our campaign was successful in bringing Congress’ attention to this critical and growing issue, but we need to fight even harder to push Congress to take corrective action.

2004

Overwhelming grassroots support from National Committee activists helped save Social Security funds from being cut under a Balanced Budget Constitutional Amendment.  With appeals from 1.4 million National Committee members and supporters, the Constitutional Amendment was pulled from consideration before a scheduled vote in the House Judiciary Committee!

2003

Millions of NCPSSM volunteers fought to prevent the full privatization of Medicare by helping defeat a dangerous House bill creating a Medicare voucher system. The misguided Medicare Modernization Act of 2003 was passed in its place and we continue the fight to fix that flawed legislation.  To date, millions of our members have signed letters and petitions to Congress urging immediate, “corrective” Medicare bills to make prescription drugs affordable and available to all seniors. 

2000

For seniors who have reached ‘normal retirement age,’ the National Committee was instrumental in earning the unlimited right to work without losing some of their Social Security benefits.  In large part because of our efforts, the Senior Citizens’ Freedom to Work Act was passed and signed into law on April 7, 2000.

NCPSSM proudly coordinated a coalition of senior organizations’ efforts to reauthorize the Older Americans Act (OAA), ensuring continued funding for a variety of state and local programs, including meals programs, in-home support services, pension counseling programs and jobs programs for seniors.  We were successful in getting this program reauthorized again in 2006.


50,000 "Likes" on Facebook!

1557464_10151986584491704_1626439952_n

To join our community on Facebook, click here or the graphic above!


Get the Latest

Indicates required fields


Questions?

Have a Social Security or Medicare question?


 

Archives
Media Contacts

Pamela Causey
Communications Director
Causeyp@ncpssm.org(202) 216-8378
(202) 236-2123 cell

Kim Wright
Assistant Director of Communications
Wrightk@ncpssm.org
(202) 216-8414

Entitled to Know

Medicare's Top 10
     

 

Copyright © 2014 by NCPSSM
Login  |