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Recommendations released yesterday by the co-chairs of the President’s National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform do not represent the wants or needs of the American people.

The co-chairs of the bi-partisan fiscal commission have issued recommendations that fall hard on middle- class Americans, especially elders. A formula change in calculating Social Security benefits would reduce benefits for one in two Social Security beneficiaries. Also recommended is yet another rise of the retirement age (except for an unspecified "hardship exception" for those unable to work after age 62). Under the proposed plan, the annual cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) would be reduced to account for a "substitution" effect, such as substituting pork for beef. Furthermore, the changes proposed to our nation’s most successful social program would hurt the economic security of future retirees by cutting retirement benefits for young people just entering the workforce by more than 35%.

Though the proposal does mention increasing the cap on wages subject to the Social Security tax to increase revenue, overall the report relies more heavily on reducing spending than on raising revenues through tax reform. Programs like Meals on Wheels and Low-Income Home Energy Assistance would be subject to annual across-the-board cuts if discretionary programs as a whole were not reduced to meet annual caps.

From our recent opinion research conducted by Lake Research Partners as part of  WOW’s Building Bridges to Economic Security Campaign, we found that Americans of all ages and political affiliations support programs, like Meals on Wheels, that help vulnerable populations stay afloat. In fact, 93% favored the maintenance of this crucial program. A secure retirement topped the list of all the things Americans wished they could save for – with almost 4 in 10 wanting to do so – and many voiced concerns about potential cuts to Social Security as adding to the uncertainty of their family’s ability to be economically secure.

Though the full report will not be released until December 1, these initial recommendations as a whole do not bode well for the economic security of current and future retirees absent an outcry from the public. WOW urges the Commission and Congress moving forward to propose ways to build, not diminish, the economic security of Americans across the generations.

Co-authored by Susan Rees, WOW Director of National Policy and Projects and Alisha Howell, Communications & Program Coordinator

Originally posted to AHowell on Fri Nov 12, 2010 at 12:59 PM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  You do know (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    HoundDog, Statusquomustgo, JG in MD

    that these rec have zero bearing on the final report. These are recs to the rest of the commission.  They need 14 of the 18 members to go along with any final recommendations and they must agree to all of them not bits and pieces. I can count four votes  without a lot of thought that will not  go along with hurting Social Security, the elderly or the Middle Class.

    In the choice between changing ones mind and proving there's no need to do so, most people get busy on the proof.

    by jsfox on Fri Nov 12, 2010 at 01:05:37 PM PST

    •  damn pesky facts... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      It is horrifying that we have to fight our own government to save the environment. Ansel Adams -6.5 -6.75

      by Statusquomustgo on Fri Nov 12, 2010 at 01:07:09 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  They need five to stop it. (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      HoundDog, Statusquomustgo, jfromga, We Won

      Durbin, Schakowsky, Becerra, Stern.  There's your four.  Then who?
      See this diary from last night:

      •  So you don't think (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        there is a fifth vote that won't agree to something let's say tax hikes or defense spending cuts or losing tax deductions? Ot a fifth vote that won't agree to a draconian overhaul of SS or medicare? I would venture if I went down the list  of member it would not be too hard to find one. Hell Conrad who I did not include in my original four count doesn't like all of what Bowles and Simpson rec'd

        In the choice between changing ones mind and proving there's no need to do so, most people get busy on the proof.

        by jsfox on Fri Nov 12, 2010 at 01:34:22 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I'm worried about it. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          I'm not even confident in Durbin and Stern.  Conrad is a Wall Streeter, like Baucus.  He's in the tank for this already, as he was making clear yesterday, while peddling his dishonest crap about SS and deficits.  Galbraith pointed out today that Obama's problem is the banks.  The people he appointed to this commission almost all have ties to banksters.  If he really wanted progressive viewpoints represented he would have made sure there were at least five people that had one.  The fact that he even created this commission in the middle of a recession, as opposed to, say, a jobs commission, says everything you need to know.


          Matters become clearer once you reach the section on tax reform. The goals of reform, as Mr. Bowles and Mr. Simpson see them, are presented in the form of seven bullet points. “Lower Rates” is the first point; “Reduce the Deficit” is the seventh.

          So how, exactly, did a deficit-cutting commission become a commission whose first priority is cutting tax rates, with deficit reduction literally at the bottom of the list?

          Actually, though, what the co-chairmen are proposing is a mixture of tax cuts and tax increases — tax cuts for the wealthy, tax increases for the middle class. They suggest eliminating tax breaks that, whatever you think of them, matter a lot to middle-class Americans — the deductibility of health benefits and mortgage interest — and using much of the revenue gained thereby, not to reduce the deficit, but to allow sharp reductions in both the top marginal tax rate and in the corporate tax rate.

          It will take time to crunch the numbers here, but this proposal clearly represents a major transfer of income upward, from the middle class to a small minority of wealthy Americans. And what does any of this have to do with deficit reduction?

          It’s no mystery what has happened on the deficit commission: as so often happens in modern Washington, a process meant to deal with real problems has been hijacked on behalf of an ideological agenda. Under the guise of facing our fiscal problems, Mr. Bowles and Mr. Simpson are trying to smuggle in the same old, same old — tax cuts for the rich and erosion of the social safety net.

  •  But no benefit cut for the lower 50% (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    So this is in fact a progressive change. Also they are proposing a minimum benefit payout to keep the neediest elders out of poverty.

    •  So are they raiding SS again? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Where are the benefits to the deficit? Will that come out of SS savings?

      Why should the Elderly, infirm and young people without parents be on the hook for failed conservative policies?

      Progressive change, my ass.

      Democracy - 1 person 1 vote. Free Markets - More dollars more power.

      by k9disc on Fri Nov 12, 2010 at 01:24:34 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  They are trying to pit middle class seniors (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      2laneIA, jfromga

      against the poor.

      Read this by Paul Krugman:
      "Oh, and they’re talking about raising the retirement age, because people live longer — except that the people who really depend on Social Security, those in the bottom half of the distribution, aren’t living much longer. So you’re going to tell janitors to work until they’re 70 because lawyers are living longer than ever."

    •  Wrong. (0+ / 0-)

      Reducing COLAs is a cut.  In fact, there are seniors within blocks of where I am sitting who told me they were going to vote against the Dems because they were mad about the lack of increase this year.  Imagine how pleased they will be if the formulas are permanently reduced.

      Raising the retirement age to 70 is a 20% cut.

      "Not cutting benefits" is not progressive change.  Increasing benefits is progressive change.  Cutting benefits for half the recipients and means testing them is a way to erode support for Social Security as a whole, and ultimately make eliminating it politically palatable.  That is the objective, of course.  Make Social Security as unpopular as welfare, provide it only to the least powerful people in society, the elderly poor, and gradually starve it out of existence.

      If Obama signs a bill with these recommendations in it he will be a one-term president.

  •  Here is the list (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    HoundDog, trueblueliberal

    Maybe someone could call and ask how they plan to vote. lol

    Commission Members
    Sen. Alan Simpson. Former Republican Senator from Wyoming.
    Erskine Bowles, Chief of Staff to President Clinton

    Executive Director:
    Bruce Reed, Chief Domestic Policy Adviser to President Clinton

    Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT)
    Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-CA 31)
    Rep. Dave Camp (R-MI 4)
    Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK)
    Sen. Kent Conrad (D-ND)
    David Cote, Chairman and CEO, Honeywell International
    Sen. Mike Crapo (R-ID)
    Sen. Richard Durbin (D-IL)
    Ann Fudge, Former CEO, Young & Rubicam Brands
    Sen. Judd Gregg (R-NH)
    Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-TX 5)
    Alice Rivlin, Senior Fellow, Brookings Institute and former Director, Office of Management & Budget
    Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI 1)
    Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL 9)
    Rep. John Spratt (D-SC 5)
    Andrew Stern, President, Service Employees International Union

    It is interesting that Rivilin, Bowles and Simpson were all employed by the government and they are old enough to be drawing a government pension.  Did anyone see any elected government pension cuts on the PLAN?

  •  What a bunch of scounderals these two chairs are- (0+ / 0-)

    issuing their own preliminary report that does not have support from the rest of the committee.

    It seems to be a pubicity stunt to avoid admitting that their committee will not be able to agree on anything and there for have a useless report.

    The means is the ends in the process of becoming. - Mahatma Gandhi

    by HoundDog on Fri Nov 12, 2010 at 01:28:50 PM PST

  •  harming the elderly is NOT something (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    alan simpson cares about a great deal. The only elderly that matter to him are the wealthy elderly. The rest not so much.  The rest of us can just go starve if it's up to him.  He's shown that in the past.

    A learning experience is one of those things that says, 'You know that thing you just did? Don't do that.' Douglas Adams

    by dougymi on Fri Nov 12, 2010 at 01:42:09 PM PST

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