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From the monthly archives: August 2010

We are pleased to present below all posts archived in 'August 2010'. If you still can't find what you are looking for, try using the search box.

There He Goes Again…

Fiscal Commission Co-Chair Alan Simpson made news earlier this year when he called seniors “lesser people” in a video interview, and now in an angry email he sent yesterday to the executive director of National Older Women's League, Simpson says Social Security is "like a milk cow with 310 million tits". Apparently a blog post Ashley Carson wrote last spring entitled "Enough with the Pink Panthers Bit"  just caught Simpson’s attention and ire which inspired his email response: 
“I’ve spent many years in public life trying to stabilize that system while people like you babble into the vapors about 'disgusting attempts at ageism and sexism' and all the rest of that crap…take a look at the chart on Page 6 which I hope you are able to discern if you are any good at reading graphs – or anything that might challenge your biases and prejudices. Anyway, have a look at it and if you should choose, you might communicate with me. If you have some better suggestions about how to stabilize Social Security instead of just babbling into the vapors, let me know. And yes, I’ve made some plenty smart cracks about people on Social Security who milk it to the last degree. You know ‘em too. It’s the same with any system in America. We’ve reached a point now where it’s like a milk cow with 310 million tits! Call when you get honest work!” Al 
Honest work…really?  We’d argue that advocating for America’s seniors is pretty honest work. The National Council of Women’s Organizations  has written President Obama calling for Simpson’s resignation
“The facts speak for themselves, but Mr. Simpson suggests that anyone supporting people who most need help and who deserve the benefits they paid for must be dishonest or stupid. Such open contempt goes beyond the pale and cannot be tolerated from someone in such a position of authority.”
Here is another good rap up of the issue in this Huffington Post piece.

Why Americans Really Retire Early

We all know the real-life retirement picture for Americans is quite different than the ridiculous caricature  of old cats  living " in gated communities and driv(ing) their Lexus to the Perkins restaurant to get the AARP discount".  This "greedy geezer" myth so frequently proferred by some in Washington, makes for good newspaper copy but of course bears no resemblance to the frightening reality facing millions of seniors who've seen their retirement savings decimated, their home values plummet and face new threats of cuts to Social Security through raising the retirement age, means testing or countless other ways. That's why we were especially glad to find a CNN piece that actually took the time to step outside the confines of Washington deficit-mania to ask a simple question: Why did you take Social Security early?  While the answers don't surprise us because we talk to seniors each and every day...these answers certainly don't fit the greedy geezer mythology promoted by so-called "deficit hawks" looking for a way to pay for years of failed borrow and spend policies that have absolutely nothing to do with Social Security. Here is just a sampling of the comments.  We really recommend you read the entire piece:
We've been dutifully searching for employment to no avail…We both are in good health and have 80 years of experience between us to offer. Although we each have a pension and some 401(k) funds, we have to start taking Social Security in order to make ends meet. It deeply saddens us to be in this position, but we have no choice.   Paul Henderson, 62   At age 62, I was laid off from my job… I see no jobs on the horizon for anyone, let alone someone of my age. Still, I'm looking.  Elaine Armstrong, 63 That was just the beginning as I found myself in the world of age discrimination. Even though I had years of tech work for companies like Sony, Microsoft, etc. I was unable to get work. Then in 2005, my wife's company decided to shut down her office. It took her 5 years to get a part-time job!  Daniel Ryan, 63

Without Social Security_______???

Thank you to the many, many members of our Facebook and blog community who participated in our Social Security 75th Anniversary “Fill in the Blank” campaign.  Your voices helped us tell the real-life success stories that are all too often lost as Washington insiders blithely propose benefit cuts to millions of Americans already suffering in this recession.  As Social Security celebrates this anniversary it's vital we remember the program's impact on millions of working Americans and their families.   That’s why we asked you to fill in the blank for this statement:  "Without Social Security ___________". Your answers were heartfelt and enlightening, and tell Social Security's success story better than we ever could.

How Many Times Do Americans Have To Say It? – Cutting Social Security is Not an Option

In poll after poll, the American people of all ages and political persuasions continue to send Washington a clear message—cutting Social Security in the name of deficit reduction is not “fiscal responsibility”.  The latest research survey on investment and deficit reduction was done by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner commissioned by the Campaign for America’s Future and Democracy Corps, with support from; the American Federation of State, County and Municipal employees, and the Service Employees International Union.  They describe their findings this way: “Voters are united on this key point: Social Security and Medicare are off-limits as a way to reduce the deficit. It is the threat to Social Security that leads many voters to prioritize deficit reductions. Voters instead want to see higher taxes on top income earners and big corporations.  As Social Security celebrates its 75th anniversary this week in the midst of this troubled economy, voters across the political divide want these programs defended.  68 percent said they would oppose making major spending cuts in Social Security and Medicare to reduce the deficit, while 28 percent said they would favor cutting those programs. That included 61 percent of Republicans and 56 percent of independents. Strong majorities support progressive solutions for addressing the federal deficit: 63 percent back lifting the Social Security cap on incomes higher than $107,000 a year; 64 percent would favor eliminating tax breaks for corporations that outsource jobs; 62 percent would support a tax on excessive Wall Street bank profits. " These results mirror results of our National Committee Foundation poll conducted earlier this summer in which only 2% of Americans believe Social Security is a major cause of the deficit with 77% opposing any changes in Social Security as part of a deficit reduction plan.  Theye also echo what Americans told AARP  in another recent poll in which 85 percent of adults oppose cutting Social Security to reduce the deficit; 72 percent "strongly oppose" doing so.  It’s clear the Washington Disconnect  between working Americans and policy makers on the issue of Social Security couldn’t be larger.

The Truth About Social Security

  Guest Blogger:   James Roosevelt, Jr.
  President and CEO of Tufts Health Plan
  Former Associate Commissioner of Retirement Policy
      for the Social Security Administration
  Co-Chair of President Obama’s Transition Team for
     Social Security
    Seventy-five years ago this month, President Franklin Delano   Roosevelt, spoke these words: "We can never insure one-hundred percent of the population against one-hundred percent of the hazards and vicissitudes of life. But we have tried to frame a law which will give some measure of protection to the average citizen and to his family against … poverty-ridden old age. This law, too, represents a cornerstone in a structure which is being built, but is by no means complete.... It is...a law that will take care of human needs and at the same time provide for the United States an economic structure of vastly greater soundness." My grandfather uttered these words on August 14, 1935, on the proud occasion of his signing the Social Security Act into law.  They expressed a fundamental belief shared by him and my grandmother that all people should be free from fear of want and destitution.  My grandparents possessed an almost boundless sense of optimism in the American people; freed from our fears, they had faith that we could move mountains.  Thus, in 1933 President Roosevelt summoned the courage of the American people with the immortal words: “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”  While this anniversary is an occasion for celebration, I am also deeply troubled by the torrent of distortions, deceptions and falsehoods being unleashed by the enemies of Social Security.  Their strategy is as simple as it is reprehensible: sow enough concern and fear about the program – fears that Social Security is not working, is bankrupting the country and cannot be counted on in the future – and you can convince people of the need for radical solutions.   While there are currently no frontal assaults on Social Security akin to what President George W. Bush unleashed in 2005, there are more insidious dangers.  There are ominous signs that the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform (better known as the deficit commission) has set its sights on Social Security. It is deeply disturbing that the co-chairman of that commission, former Senator Alan Simpson, has been using this platform to put forward the same baseless claims about the program: that it’s “insolvent, it’s paying out more than it’s taking in” or “there is no surplus in there,” “there” being the Social Security Trust Fund.    Fear, my grandfather said, is “nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.”  I believe that if we hold the distortions, deceptions and falsehoods up to the light of truth, we can convert retreat into advance.  The truth about Social Security is that it has contributed to the financial wellbeing of almost every American family.  It is completely solvent today because it has a dedicated income stream that covers its costs, and it is actuarially sound.  Moreover, it will remain solvent for decades to come, with only minor adjustments.  It has consistently run a surplus.  The point is that Social Security should be "off the table" in the deficit commission's deliberations.  As Nancy Altman wrote in her book, The Battle for Social Security, “Armed with the proper insight and understanding, we Americans can assert our will and demand that the program envisioned by Franklin Roosevelt remain his enduring legacy.” You can watch James Roosevelt's full address at the National Press Club marking Social Security's 75th anniversary here.
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