...it is vitally important not only to you and me, but to our younger friends, our children, grandchildren and beyond. Nevertheless, a lot of members of Congress and all the Republican presidential candidates would kill it altogether if they could.
Failing that, they keep coming up with ways to chip away at the benefit – if not for current recipients, then future ones. It continues to amaze (and annoy) me, when they try to reassure elders that reductions would not affect people already receiving Social Security, that they apparently believe we don't care if our children are short-changed.
That tells you more about their worldviews than ours. This little chart from the Strengthen Social Security website should convince anyone of the extraordinary value of the program:
That's right, since the inception of Social Security, the poverty rate for elders has dropped from 50 percent to 10 percent – all due to Social Security. Without it, I cannot imagine how I would live. For me, it would be a choice between Medicare premiums and eating.
Which brings me to the current danger to the program - the Congressional “Super Committee” that is tasked with finding $1.5 billion in deficit reduction costs which, according to Strengthen Social Security, can include cuts to Social Security as well as Medicare and Medicaid.
A week ago, Congress finished appointing the six Democrats and six Republicans to the Committee, half from the Senate and half from the House. According to Eric Kingson, Co-chair of the Strengthen Social Security Campaign,
"...half of the members of the Super Committee have already voted to make deep cuts to Social Security benefits while giving huge tax breaks to the wealthy...
"All it takes is one more vote on the Super Committee and the economic security of tens of millions of Americans would be put in great peril."
You expect the Republicans on the Committee to want to hack away at Social Security, but some of the Democrats have been wobbly too.Committee Co-Chair, Senator Patty Murray (D-Wa) has said nothing is off the table.
Senator John Kerry (D-Ma) believes Social Security and other programs are to blame for the deficit and supports a “grand bargain” that could cut Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.
Representative James Clyburn (D-SC) is willing to consider a cost-of living (COLA) cut (that would affect current beneficiaries) and is open to means testing for Social Security.
Representative Chris Van Hollen (D-Md) is open to a “grand deal” that could cut Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.
The Committee's approval of their recommendations requires only a simple majority; as Eric Kingston said, “all it takes is one more vote” meaning, from a Democrat.
There is an excellent and thorough page at Strengthening Social Security with details about where all the Super Committee members stand on these issues, their past votes and statements.
By Congressional standards, the Super Committee has little time to come up with a plan – just three months from now. This is the schedule:
- September16: Super Committee must have first meeting
- October 14: Legislative committees and president make recommendations to Super Committee
- November 23: Super Committee must vote on plan. If approved, it goes to Congress
- December 23: Super Committee plan must pass both chambers to avoid trigger
Just in time for Christmas. If the Committee does not deadlock, if there is a plan and it passes Congress, will the holiday be a happy one for elders, or not?
The Strengthen Social Security Campaign also has an informative page with three charts showing, by the numbers, the importance of Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid to the people in the Committee members' states and districts.
This organization, which has 320 national and state coalition partners, has been around only a year and already they have created a valuable resource of information about Social Security updated regularly with the latest information. You should bookmark it.
I know, I often ask you to call or write your representatives and sign petitions and now I am asking you again. The Strengthen Social Security Campaign has a new petition asking the 12 members of the Super Committee to remove Social Security from consideration in their deficit reduction deliberations. Please sign it. You can do that here.
I have no idea if petitions help, but I do know that not signing definitely won't help.
There is no story at The Elder Storytelling Place today. There will be next week.