GOP Stacks Debt Panel with Opponents of Social Security and Medicare

March 12, 2010

For Immediate Release

GOP Stacks Debt Panel with Opponents of Social Security and Medicare

The "Sock Our Seniors Six" Taints Objectivity of Debt Commission

The following statement was issued today by Edward F. Coyle, Executive Director of the Alliance for Retired Americans, regarding the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform.
 
"Current and future retirees have every reason to be alarmed by who the Republican congressional leadership today named to the newly-created bipartisan commission to lower the federal budget deficit.

"The 'Sock Our Seniors Six' is a group of lawmakers who have consistently voted to weaken Social Security and sell off Medicare to the big drug and insurance companies.  They reflect a failed ideology that fueled George W. Bush's and John McCain's efforts to let Wall Street gamble away privatized Social Security on the roulette wheel of Wall Street.  One look at a recent 401(k) statement shows what dangerous folly that would have been.

"The new panel members - Senators Tom Coburn, Mike Crapo, and Judd Gregg and Representatives Dave Camp, Jeb Hensarling, and Paul Ryan - combine to average a 6.5 percent lifetime rating on the Alliance for Retired Americans Voting Record on key congressional votes on Social Security, Medicare, and other issues affecting retirement security.

 "Today's appointees call into sharp question the objectivity of this panel, particularly when combined with former Senator Alan K. Simpson recently being named as its Co-Chair.  Simpson has referred to older Americans as 'greedy geezers' and as a Senator, he wanted to lower Social Security benefits by changing the statistical formula used to calculate Cost-of-Living Adjustments.
 
"The Alliance for Retired Americans strongly encourages the Commission to examine the full range of tax and spend policies that led to these large deficits.  Since 1983, American workers have paid enough Social Security payroll taxes to accumulate a $2.5 trillion surplus in the Social Security Trust Fund.  We hope the Commission will accurately point out the reckless fiscal decisions that got us to this point, and also reaffirm that Social Security and Medicare are two of our nation's greatest success stories and have helped generations of seniors stay healthy and out of poverty. 

"Today's developments are an inauspicious start to this new commission.  It is a reminder that America's retirees need to keep a close eye on this panel and be educated and active on these important issues."

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Contact: Laura Markwardt, (202) 637-5178 or lmarkwar@retiredamericans.org