Alliance Members Protest Across the Country as Fiscal Commission Meets in DC

April 30, 2010

Alliance Members Protest Across the Country as Fiscal Commission Meets in DC
On Tuesday in Washington, DC, the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform met for the first time.  Erskine Bowles, former Chief of Staff to President Bill Clinton, and retired Sen. Alan Simpson (R-WY), co-chair the Commission.  Click on http://bit.ly/bsw4qW for a list of the 18 members who make up the panel.  The Commission could determine the future of Social Security; however, after Tuesday's opening session, it plans to hold most of its meetings outside of the public eye, behind closed doors.  Activists have been contacting their elected officials, saying that the Commission's deliberations - and the future of Social Security - are too important to be kept secret.  Alliance members sent more than 3,600 letters to their elected officials driving their point home this week.  "We must bring this new Commission's meetings out into the sunshine, so everyone can see firsthand just how important Social Security is to Americans of all ages," said Edward F. Coyle, Executive Director of the Alliance. 

Alliance chapters across the country acted to draw attention to the closed meetings as well as the threat of cuts to Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.  In California, letters were delivered in person to Congressional offices all over the state.  New Hampshire Alliance members protested in front of the office of Sen. Judd Gregg (R-NH) [ http://bit.ly/aVPSqa ].  Illinois, Wisconsin, Texas, and South Carolina Alliance members hand-delivered letters to the offices of several elected officials, including Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Reps. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), Paul Ryan (R-WI), Jeb Hensarling (R-TX), and John Spratt (D-SC).  The Iowa Alliance published letters to Illinois editors, and the New Mexico Alliance was invited to voice their opinions on television.  Other states also contributed energetically to the effort.  "Thank you all for your creativity and work," said Ruben Burks, Secretary-Treasurer of the Alliance.

Former Sen. Simpson aggravated seniors last weekend on Fox News Sunday, when he complained about older Americans who are concerned with the possibility of cuts to their Social Security benefits.  "Where do I get my mail?" he asked.  "From these old cats 70 and 80 years old who are not affected in one whiff.  People who live in gated communities and drive their Lexus to the Perkins restaurant to get the AARP discount. This is madness."

'Billionaires for Social Insecurity' Gather at Pete Peterson Event
On Wednesday, Peter Peterson and his foundation convened a closed-door meeting of Wall Street billionaires and politicos at the Ronald Reagan Building in DC.  Peterson is a former CEO of Lehman Brothers and former chair of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.  He and his allies propose reducing the country's deficit by slashing Social Security and Medicare benefits as well as raising the retirement age.  They have supported the concept of a commission that could fast-track changes to these programs with little Congressional and public debate.  The Peterson meeting, which followed the first Fiscal Commission meeting on Tuesday, included many players on the commission, including Rep. Ryan and Sen. Gregg.  A street theatre troupe and activists joined forces at the Ronald Reagan Building to point out the irony and danger of what was being discussed.  [Video and more here: http://bit.ly/9C2ZT0]  Players dressed as billionaires asked passers-by to donate their Social Security checks and said, "Just because we busted the budget does not mean we should pay for it."

Alliance Helps to Reform Wall Street
On Wednesday, Alliance President Barbara J. Easterling joined Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), and Sens. Chris Dodd (D-CT), and Sherrod Brown (D-OH) on Capitol Hill at a press conference in support of financial reform.  Speaking in favor of S. 3217, the "Restoring American Financial Stability Act of 2010," Ms. Easterling said the legislation would "put in place strict new rules to protect seniors from gimmicks and predatory lending."  The Senate opened debate on Thursday on the bill to overhaul the nation's financial regulatory system after Republicans agreed to drop a three-day filibuster.  Earlier in the week, Nevada Alliance President Scotty Watts had joined Sen. Reid on a conference call with reporters as part of the effort.

Pennsylvania Seniors for Mark Critz
Mark Critz, a candidate for the U.S. House in Pennsylvania