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Join the Fight against Social Security Benefit Cuts

National Committee members and supporters will be converging on the White House tomorrow to protest President Obama's

budget plan to cut benefits for seniors, retired veterans and people with disabilities.

“While the White House continues to claim the chained CPI is nothing more than a formula ‘tweak’, the reality is it will cut benefits immediately for America’s retirees by $130 the first year compounding to thousands of dollars in benefit cuts over time. The American people have made it clear they do not support cutting Social Security benefits to reduce the deficit; however, Washington continues on a path targeting middle-class families to pay for our fiscal failures. The disconnect between Washington and average Americans has never been larger. Passage of the chained CPI would break a promise made just months ago by politicians of both parties to protect vital middle-class programs like Social Security.” Max Richtman, NCPSSM President/CEO

Here are the basic details for those of our readers in the D.C. metro area who can join us.

WHO:  Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Rep. Mark Takano (D-CA)

Max Richtman, NCPSSM President and CEO

Damon Silvers, AFL-CIO

Manny Hermann, MoveOn.org

Stephanie Taylor, Progressive Change Campaign Committee

Jim Dean, Democracy for America Chair

            Roger Hickey, Campaign for America’s Future            

Bonnie Grabenhofer, National Organization for Women

Former Obama for America Supporters & Seniors on Social Security

WHAT:  Delivery of more than 1 million petition signatures directly to the White House

WHEN:  Tuesday April 9, at 12:30pm (ET)

WHERE: 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW - Washington DC (In front of the White House opposite of Lafayette Square)

For those who can't join us in person, have no fear there's another way our activists can truly make a difference.  Please join our Congressional Call-in Day on Wednesday.  One simple toll-free call will connect you directly to your members of Congress and Senate.

Our goal is to flood Members of Congress with calls reminding them that Americans of all ages and political parties oppose cutting Social Security to pay for deficit reduction. President Obama’s Chained CPI budget proposal in his 2014 Budget will do exactly that.  Our message to Congress is simple:

Keep the Promise.  Social Security doesn’t contribute to the deficit and Americans of all parties oppose cutting benefits earned by middle-class families. The Chained CPI isn’t a “tweak” it’s a benefit cut America’s retirees, veterans and the disabled simply cannot afford.

NCPSSM’s Legislative Hotline will connect callers directly to their Congressional leaders from one toll-free number:

CHAINED CPI CONGRESSIONAL CALL IN DAY

(800) 998-0180

The National Committee led the charge against privatization and will do the same against any plan to cut Social Security benefits, including through the chained CPI.

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Americans are Tired of Social Security & Medicare Being Used as Debt Debate Bargaining Chips

President Obama addressed the nation for the first time since election night and there was a lot there for America’s seniors and their families to like.  The Daily Beast put it this way:

“Obama just finished his remarks on the fiscal cliff, and he was direct and no-nonsense. Yes, I want to work with the other side, blah blah. But let's pass the middle-class tax cuts now. The Senate has passed a bill already protecting incomes under $250,000 from higher rates. The House just needs to do the same. I have a pen, and I'm ready to sign it [brandishes pen, even!]. The 2009 Obama would not have been that direct and confident. Not even the 2011 Obama. This is new. He's saying, "I am the president, I won. Deal with it, and deal with me." Too often in his first term, he let the Republicans set the basic terms of debate. Not this time. He just set them.”

Our favorite line was:

“I’m not gonna ask students and seniors and middle class families to pay down the entire deficit, while people like me making over $250,000 aren’t asked to pay a dime more in taxes.”

We couldn’t agree more. But  we’d go even further…let’s get rid of  “entire” used by the President here as a qualifier. 

“President Obama laid out an economic action plan that mirrors what the American people said loud and clear on Election Day.  Americans are simply not willing to cut middle class benefits so that millionaires can keep their record low tax rates. The majority of Americans believe we should not cut Social Security and Medicare benefits to pay down the debt and that the wealthy should finally pay their share. In fact, the vast majority of voters polled report these issues influenced their vote on Tuesday.

America’s seniors, many of whom are living on an average Social Security income of $14,000 a year, are tired of being told they must continue to sacrifice to pay for tax cuts millionaires don’t need and our nation can’t afford.  They know Social Security does not even belong in a debt debate because, by law, Social Security can not contribute to the debt. We’ve already seen effective reforms which save billions in the Medicare program while also improving benefits for seniors and adding years to the program’s solvency.

America’s seniors want fiscal sanity returned to Washington but they don’t believe we have to cut the nation’s most successful health and economic security programs to get there. President Obama is right, we should not ask students and seniors to pay down our deficit while the wealthy get another pass.  The National Committee looks forward to the President’s outreach efforts here in Washington and nationwide to ensure that the voters’ clear message is heeded and benefits touching the lives of virtually every American family aren’t sacrificed in the name of deficit reduction.” Max Richtman, NCPSSM President/CEO

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Social Security & Medicare as Bargaining Chips?

Only time will tell whether the "reforms" President Obama offered up again in last night's State of the Union are the standard Washington formulation of reforms = benefit cuts for seniors or something more meaningful.   And on the payroll tax, we've repeatedly said the White House stimulus strategy is just plain wrong.  Here's what he said about Social Security, Medicare & Medicaid in last night's speech followed by our reaction:

Right now, our most immediate priority is stopping a tax hike on 160 million working Americans while the recovery is still fragile. People cannot afford losing $40 out of each paycheck this year. There are plenty of ways to get this done. So let’s agree right here, right now: No side issues. No drama. Pass the payroll tax cut without delay. When it comes to the deficit, we’ve already agreed to more than $2 trillion in cuts and savings. But we need to do more, and that means making choices. Right now, we’re poised to spend nearly $1 trillion more on what was supposed to be a temporary tax break for the wealthiest 2 percent of Americans. Right now, because of loopholes and shelters in the tax code, a quarter of all millionaires pay lower tax rates than millions of middle-class households. Right now, Warren Buffett pays a lower tax rate than his secretary. Do we want to keep these tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans? Or do we want to keep our investments in everything else – like education and medical research; a strong military and care for our veterans? Because if we’re serious about paying down our debt, we can’t do both. The American people know what the right choice is. So do I. As I told the Speaker this summer, I’m prepared to make more reforms that rein in the long term costs of Medicare and Medicaid, and strengthen Social Security, so long as those programs remain a guarantee of security for seniors. But in return, we need to change our tax code so that people like me, and an awful lot of Members of Congress, pay our fair share of taxes. Tax reform should follow the Buffett rule: If you make more than $1 million a year, you should not pay less than 30 percent in taxes. And my Republican friend Tom Coburn is right: Washington should stop subsidizing millionaires. In fact, if you’re earning a million dollars a year, you shouldn’t get special tax subsidies or deductions. On the other hand, if you make under $250,000 a year, like 98 percent of American families, your taxes shouldn’t go up. You’re the ones struggling with rising costs and stagnant wages. You’re the ones who need relief.
Our President/CEO, Max Richtman responded:
“We share President Obama’s belief that we must rebuild our economy in a way that rewards Americans’ hard work and re-instills fairness into an economic system that too often rewards the rich and punishes everyone else. Ironically, these core American values of hard work, fairness and compassion are also the tenets of the programs most often targeted by Washington for cuts—Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. If offering more reforms leads to benefit cuts for seniors in these vital programs then seniors program will once again become a bargaining chip traded in exchange for tax breaks millionaires don’t need in the first place. The President’s support for providing a middle class tax cut to help spur the economy is the right policy, but reducing Social Security payroll taxes is the wrong way to do it.  Extending the payroll tax cut further endangers Social Security's financial integrity and could undermine our efforts to defend the program from benefit cuts or privatization.  If seniors are required to pay for the payroll tax holiday -- which most would not benefit from – through Medicare cuts as some lawmakers have suggested, that would also be contrary to the President’s stated goals of fairness. We urge President Obama to safeguard the middle-class by drawing a clear line in the sand, promising the American people that this so-called ‘holiday’ will end this year. Restoring Social Security’s successful self-funding model is the only way to preserve its independence for future generations.” Max Richtman, NCPSSM President/CEO
Meanwhile Republicans are poised and ready to make a "deal" that demands benefit cuts and privatization, coupon care and work til you die.  Here's the GOP response to the President's State of the Union, replete with dire warnings and fear-mongering the facts, claiming there are only two options for Social Security and Medicare--do nothing (which NO ONE supports) or radical reforms that destroy the programs in their current forms.  False options and the same song---102nd verse, taken from the Cato playbook written more than 25 years ago:
"We can preserve them unchanged and untouched for those now in or near retirement, but we must fashion a new, affordable safety net so future Americans are protected, too. [...]
“The mortal enemies of Social Security and Medicare are those who, in contempt of the plain arithmetic, continue to mislead Americans that we should change nothing Listening to them much longer will mean that these proud programs implode, and take the American economy with them. It will mean that coming generations are denied the jobs they need in their youth and the protection they deserve in their later years."
Just a reminder:  according to the Social Security Trustees the  Social Security Trust fund currently has a surplus of $2.6 trillion. This surplus is projected to grow until 2022. At that time the balance in the trust funds are projected to be $3.7 trillion.  The skyrocketing costs of healthcare system wide have posed a greater threat to Medicare; however, healthcare reform added  years of solvency to the program.  While there's more work to be done conservatives are now working to undo the progress already made by repealing the Affordable Care Act and reversing the savings already seen in Medicare.

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Senate Poised to Cut Contributions to Social Security

Yesterday’s vote to end debate on the White House/GOP Tax compromise sets the stage for passage in the Senate followed by a vote in the House.  USA Today describes the Senate vote this way:

Nine Democrats and one independent voted against the measure, including Wisconsin Sen. Russ Feingold and New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand. Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., who staged an 8½-hour speech against the proposal last week, also voted against the bill. Five Republicans opposed the bill, including Sens. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma and George Voinovich of Ohio.
And so the Washington Disconnect continues and you can be sure a year from now, when it’s time for this so-called “holiday” to expire there will be legislation and a battle in Congress to make it permanent or even divert that money into private accounts.  But we’re getting ahead of ourselves…after the Senate’s final vote then it will move to the House where changes are expected to be made.  However, the White House has made it clear that changing the payroll tax holiday to any of a number of other more stimulative  proposals is not an option.  By all accounts, House Democrats are not pleased with the package they’ve been presented:
"Hardly anybody in the Democratic caucus here feels that the president tried hard enough to deliver on his campaign promises," said Rep. Alan Grayson of Florida, one of dozens of House Democrats defeated in last month's elections. Obama had House Democratic leaders "go through what turned out to be Potemkin meetings with his staff, when the real negotiations were being done elsewhere," he said. Rep. Elijah Cummings, a Maryland Democrat who has strongly supported Obama and won re-election last month, told MSNBC the chief House representative "wasn't even in the room, and we did feel left out" during the key tax-cut negotiations.
Lastly, here’s a nod to the one person in Washington willing to speak out strongly against the payroll tax holiday.  Senator Bernie Sanders (D-VT) understands the threat this tax deal poses for Social Security.   It appears he among a very small group in Washington  who does.

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

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Cutting contributions to Social Security Signals the Beginning of the End

Payroll Tax “Holiday” is Anything But

 “Even though Social Security contributed nothing to the current economic crisis, it has been bartered in a deal that provides deficit busting tax cuts for the wealthy.  Diverting $120 billion in Social Security contributions for a so-called ‘tax holiday’ may sound like a good deal for workers now but it’s bad business for the program that a majority of middle-class seniors will rely upon in the future.”… Barbara B. Kennelly, President/CEO    Conservatives have long dreamed of a payroll tax holiday because it fulfills two ideological goals, lower taxes and weakening Social Security’s finances.  The White House claims the 2% payroll tax cut won’t impact Social Security; however, we disagree. 
• There’s no such thing as a “temporary” tax Cut. If Congress is unwilling to allow tax cuts for wealthy Americans to expire in the midst of economic crisis now, then why would it allow this so-called “holiday” to end in one year? The short answer--it wouldn’t. Americans should expect that when this tax “holiday” ends, restoring Social Security’s funding will be portrayed by those opposed to the program as a massive tax hike, rather than the legislated end of the “holiday”. That leaves Social Security permanently dependent on general fund revenues rather than worker contributions which have successfully funded the program for 75 years. If extended, this payroll tax cut would then double Social Security’s 75 year projected shortfall. • This 2% payroll tax cut is the beginning of the end of Social Security as we know it. Worker contributions have successfully funded the program for 75 years and that critical linkage between contributions and benefits is what keeps Social Security a self-funded program. Proposals like this threaten the program’s independence, forcing Social Security to compete for limited federal dollars.  • Cutting contributions to Social Security isn’t the best way to stimulate the economy. The Tax Policy Center reports the wealthiest 40% of households benefit most from a payroll tax cut. According to The Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, extending the “Making Work Pay Tax Credit” is a much better and targeted stimulus.
For all of these reasons, the National Committee does not support proposals to cut the payroll tax.  America’s seniors understand the vital role Social Security plays during these difficult economic times and they’re not willing to trade promises of possible short-term economic gains for real and measurable damage to this vital program which would impact generations of Americans to come.

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