August 27, 2010
Alliance Leaders Demand Alan Simpson Resignation from Presidential Panel
On Wednesday, the Alliance wrote President Obama to demand the resignation of Alan Simpson as Co-Chair of the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform. Alliance President Barbara J. Easterling and Executive Director Ed Coyle wrote the White House in the wake of a growing pattern of offensive comments Simpson has been making about senior citizens, the most recent of which was an e-mail he wrote to the Executive Director of the Older Women’s League, in which he said that Social Security is “like a milk cow with 310 million tits.” In his message, former Sen. Simpson also told the prominent aging policy leader to “call when you get honest work.” Easterling and Coyle wrote that his remarks are “conduct unbecoming a person named to co-chair a presidential panel. Moreover, it is the latest in a series of derisive and inappropriate comments Mr. Simpson has made about our nation’s seniors and the Social Security benefits they have earned and rely upon to make ends meet.” Previously, he had referred to seniors as “greedy geezers,” said that lower-income Americans are “lesser people in society,” and declared that he is frustrated hearing from retirees who, “live in gated communities and drive their Lexus to the Perkins restaurant to get the AARP discount.” For a copy of the Alliance letter, go to http://bit.ly/ci3x2S.
Wall Street Journal Writes about Leaks from the Fiscal Commission
According to leaks obtained by The Wall Street Journal, the 18-member National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform panel is “looking for a mix of ideas that could win support from both parties, including concessions from liberals who traditionally oppose benefit cuts and from Republicans who generally oppose higher taxes.” In addition to raising the retirement age, which is now set to reach age 67 in 2027, specific cuts under consideration include lowering benefits for wealthier retirees and trimming annual cost-of-living increases, perhaps only for wealthier retirees. On the tax side, the leading idea is to increase the share of earned income that is subject to Social Security taxes – under current law, income beyond $106,000 is exempt. Another idea is to increase the tax rate itself. A coalition of 125 groups called Strengthen Social Security, which includes the Alliance, have promised to block any cut in retirement benefits, including any plan to raise the retirement age, but the White House appears open to a deal. “According to theWall Street Journal, seniors have every reason to fear that the Fiscal Commission wants to cut Social Security benefits for people who need them,” said Ruben Burks, Secretary-Treasurer of the Alliance.
Alaska, Pennsylvania Republican Senate Candidates Cause Dismay with Stances
Joe Miller, an Alaska lawyer whose candidacy had been fueled by the “tea party” movement and the endorsement of former governor Sarah Palin, is on the verge of toppling incumbent Sen.Lisa Murkowski (R). Murkowski is running almost 1,700 votes behind Miller with all but about 7,000 absentee ballots counted, according to ABC News. Miller has embraced positions that make him one of the most conservative candidates seeking public office this year. He has called for phasing out Medicare and Social Security, as well as eliminating the Education Department because it is not mandated in the Constitution. Last month, he told ABC that he opposes extending unemployment benefits because he does not think they were “constitutionally authorized.” He also criticized Murkowski for opposing a repeal of the new health care law. The Democratic Senate nominee, Scott McAdams, is a former commercial fisherman and currently the mayor of Sitka, Alaska, a town of about 9,000 on the Pacific Ocean.
In Pennsylvania, Republic Senate nominee Pat Toomey “appeared to be trying a little revisionist history this week when he claimed he never called for privatizing Social Security,” according to the website http://blog.pennlive.com. Toomey made the claim at the end of his appearance at the Pennsylvania Press Club on Monday, only to see a surge of critics calling him out for his reversal. That included the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, which dug up a 2003 headline from Toomey’s hometown newspaper, the Allentown Morning Call, which read: “Toomey: Privatize Social Security.” Toomey said he does favor allowing younger workers to deposit savings into private accounts, a position he has held since his first Congressional term in 1999. He tried a clever use of semantics to refute the criticism: the phrase he has used is “personalized” Social Security accounts. Toomey faces Democrat Joe Sestak in November.
Social Security 75th Anniversary Events Continue to Generate Excellent Press
Groups including the California Alliance are continuing with celebrations of Social Security’s 75th birthday, demonstrating concern about potential cuts to benefits. A San Jose Demo Reportheadline last week read, “Will It Be Catfood or Cake? How Will Seniors Survive if Social Security is Cut?” To see more, go to http://bit.ly/9BuWiD. To hear Alliance members say what Social Security has meant to them, go to http://bit.ly/bGvKY2. For photos and videos of the birthday celebrations, go to www.flickr.com/photos/retiredamericans andwww.youtube.com/user/RetiredAmericans.
Broadband Speeds Continue to Increase Around the World – But Not in the U.S.
If you are looking for a fast Internet connection, you may be surprised to hear that the U.S. lags behind countries like Romania, Latvia and South Korea. According to Akamai’s latest data released this week [http://bit.ly/94NDIg], the U.S. maintains a mediocre status in the area of broadband, ranking 16th overall in average speed. For this and other reasons, the Alliance for Retired Americans has joined with a powerful coalition of individuals and organizations (like Communications Workers of America) who believe that affordable, accessible high-speed internet is important. “Throughout 2010 and beyond, we will work on the local, state and federal level to ensure the implementation of a national broadband plan that enhances high-capacity connections in schools and libraries; creates good, union jobs; and closes the digital divide among all Americans, including seniors,” said Ms. Easterling. Take the speed test here to see how your connection does: http://www.speedmatters.org/ara.
Welcome Warren Danford
Mr. Warren Danford is the new director of the UAW retired workers department and is now a member of the Alliance Executive Board. Danford grew up in Louisiana where he first became active in politics with his local union. He serves as UAW’s Director of Travel and Meetings as well as the Director of Retired Workers in Detroit, Michigan.