House Democrats Say: No Social Security Cuts!

September 10, 2010

According to the “Talking Points Memo” blog, House Democrats, led by Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) co-chair Raul Grijalva (AZ), are drawing a line in the sand before the White House's fiscal commission: If your report recommends cuts or other changes to Social Security, they will say, you'll lose our support. In a letter to be sent to President Obama, House Democrats will pledge to vote against any legislation based on the commission's report unless Social Security is taken off the table. “We oppose any cuts to Social Security benefits, including raising the retirement age,” the letter reads. “We also oppose any effort to privatize Social Security, in whole or in part.... If any of the Commission's recommendations cut or diminish Social Security in any way, we will stand firmly against them.” The effort is intended to tie the commission's hands, at least on this issue. Grijalva's effort is a response to signals and reports suggesting that the commission is reaching common ground on Social Security cuts. Democrats and advocates are rounding up signers, and will deliver the letter to Obama once the numbers climb, likely after Congress returns later this month. The original cosigners are Grijalva, John Conyers (D-MI), Dan Maffei (D-NY), Mary Jo Kilroy (D-OH), Chellie Pingree (D-ME), and CPC co-chair Lynn Woolsey (D-CA). They issued a “Dear Colleague” letter to House members last Friday and have identified dozens of potential signatories based on pledges and past statements. You can read the text of the letter in its entirety at http://bit.ly/9zwX4F.  “Alliance members will have the opportunity to take part in a movement to increase the number of co-sponsors in an upcoming Friday Alert,” said Barbara J. Easterling, President of the Alliance. According to the AFL-CIO blog [http://bit.ly/akYyr8], phasing out, privatizing, or otherwise eliminating Social Security does not sit well with the vast majority of the voting public: the latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll finds that 68% of voters are “uncomfortable” with candidates who support such ideas.

 

On Labor Day, AFL-CIO President Writes Op-Ed about Workers Who Can’t Retire

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka wrote an op-ed for Labor Day that addressed the growing number of seniors in the work force, unable to retire.  “This Labor Day, more of our grandparents may be working a cashier’s line, waiting tables or preparing lessons for the first day of school,” Trumka stated. He went on to warn that even with such troubling occurrences becoming more common, there are those who wish to hurt seniors’ ability to retire by cutting back on Social Security benefits and raising the retirement age.  He called on Americans not to let that happen.  Seniors should be able “to take their grandkids to a ballgame this Labor Day instead of having to work the concession stand at the stadium,” he wrote. To read the op-ed, go to http://bit.ly/aF5iw3.

 

Steelworkers Urge Fiscal Commission Member David Cote’s Removal

Last week, another deficit commission member came under scrutiny for inappropriate behavior. In a letter to President Obama, C.L. Entrekin and Jim Centner, leaders of the 350,000-member Steelworkers Organization of Active Retirees wrote, “Mr. Cote should be evicted from the so-called Deficit Commission immediately, before he can use that position to harm all Americans the way he is injuring Honeywell workers in Illinois.” They explained that in June, Honeywell locked out 230 union workers at its hexafluoride plant, even though they offered to continue working under the terms of their expired contract. Honeywell, under Cote’s leadership, had proposed eliminating retiree health care and increasing workers’ out-of-pocket health care premiums to $8,500 per year. “As if that weren’t a bad enough deal, SOAR points out that workers at the Metropolis uranium enrichment plant are exposed to hazardous materials on-the-job and suffer from high cancer rates,” said Ruben Burks, Secretary-Treasurer of the Alliance. Workers and members of the community are very concerned about a recent hydrogen explosion at the plant [http://huff.to/bApwAr]. They are outraged that Cote may be willing to risk contamination by untrained temporary workers in order to force cuts in workers’ retiree health care and pension plans. Read the letter at http://bit.ly/bOoN3p.

 

Republicans Say They Will Try to Repeal Health Care Law if They Return to Power

According to the Associated Press, if Republicans succeed beyond any current predictions and capture both the Senate and the House, some are planning the prospect of a government shutdown as a tool they would use to try and repeal this year’s health care law. Republicans could also fall back on the “congressional power of the purse,” denying the administration billions of dollars to carry out the legislation. The House Majority Leader, Steny Hoyer, (D-MD) dismissed the talk of repeal as wishful thinking. Hoyer said that he's confident Democrats will stay in charge, and even if Republicans win, “they can beat their chests and say they won't fund the implementation of the law, but I think the law is the law, and if you can't change it, then, frankly, you have a responsibility to carry it out.” On “America Speaking Out,” a website sponsored by the House GOP, the mantra, “Repeal and Replace” drove home the stated goal of what to do about the health care law.  Still, Republicans would not have enough GOP votes to overcome President Obama's vetoes. Sen. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) signaled a slightly different plan, saying to home state reporters recently about the law, “What can we do? We can make narrow targeted efforts to go after the cost problems. Without the president, we can't repeal it. But we can go after portions of it aggressively.”

 

Colorado Alliance Convenes

The Colorado Alliance for Retired Americans held its annual convention yesterday. Alliance members discussed the state budget with the state treasurer, talked with policy specialists about ballot initiatives this year, and met with a representative from the Governor’s office on health care reform. The attendees also discussed Social Security and what potential threats coming out of the deficit commission would mean to Colorado.  Director of the Department of Field Mobilization Dani Pere represented the national Alliance at the gathering.

 

Happy Grandparents Day!

Grandparents Day is this Sunday, September 12th. This Grandparents Day, Alliance leaders and members in the states will highlight the importance of strengthening Social Security, not for retirees, but for their children and grandchildren. Raising the retirement age is a cut in Social Security benefits – and Americans young and old are working to ensure the promise of Social Security is truly maintained for future generations.

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