January 15, 2010
The United States Senate
Washington, DC 20510
On behalf of our millions of members and supporters, the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare strongly opposes the amendment to be offered by Senators Conrad and Gregg during consideration of the debt ceiling legislation next week. The amendment would establish a task force, or fiscal commission, aimed at reducing the federal debt through changes targeted primarily at Social Security. A vote for such a commission would signal to America ‘s seniors that Congress is willing to cut Social Security benefits. We urge you to vote against the amendment.
We appreciate the concerns of legislators who are looking for a means of reducing the federal deficit and slowing the growth in the debt. However, the National Committee believes that decisions relating to complex and essential programs such as Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and taxes should be made through the regular legislative committee process. Such a process allows each program to be considered separately by substantive experts based on program solvency and policy goals.
The Conrad-Gregg amendment would effectively remove nearly every government program, including the federal tax system, from the legislative jurisdiction of the Congress. By fast-tracking the commission’s recommendations with no allowance for amendments, the Conrad-Gregg measure would prevent Congress from exercising its legislative responsibilities with respect to Social Security. Enacting legislation that would push through changes of this importance to millions of Americans, especially seniors, without the opportunity for members of an elected Congress to amend them, ultimately disenfranchises the public and undermines the legitimacy of the political process.
Seniors are concerned that any process which permits Social Security to be taken up in the context of fiscal or budgetary decisions will ignore the needs of Social Security and the well-being of its beneficiaries. Seniors already believe that Social Security is being used by the government as a piggy bank. Now they fear that the Congress is ready to use a fiscal commission to cut Social Security benefits, making seniors pay the price for the excesses of Wall Street. Those fears will only be alleviated if Social Security is strengthened and made solvent on its own merits and by people who recognize the importance of Social Security and the many protections it provides.
Barbara B. Kennelly
President & CEO