Social Security: Are You Ready For A Congressional “Video Staycation”?
April 1, 2011 - 8:16am ET
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Diligent reporter that I am, I got up yesterday morning to do a bit of fishing for a story, and as so often happens, I’ve caught something a bit unexpected.
Now what I have for you today starts out as a bit of insider information that came to me on background—but it turns into a chance for those of us who support Social Security to very much get in the faces of our members of Congress, for two whole weeks.
And to make it even better, I’m going to throw out a few direct action ideas “for your consideration” (as they say in Hollywood during Awards Season) that would absolutely make good street actions and YouTube videos, both at the same time…and even more importantly, we’ll absolutely make some great Spring Break fun.
“I mean, just from the very notion that it said that 50 percent of beneficiaries under the Social Security program use those moneys as their sole source of income. So we've got to protect today's seniors. But for the rest of us? For - you know, listen. We're going to have to come to grips with the fact that these programs cannot exist if we want America to be what we want America to be…
…We're going to have to accept some changes as far as the rest of us. And what we're saying is for those 55 and older do not have to worry about changes in benefits. But for the rest of us we will. We will have to do that."
--House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, speaking at the Hoover Institution, March 21, 2011
OK, so like I said, I have bit of “inside baseball” that sets this whole thing up.
I got a piece of information “on background” yesterday from An Actual Well-Informed Source who seems to be about two or three “degrees of separation” away from actually being in the room while this news is occurring; because of that I’m willing to ascribe to it a reasonably good chance of proving to be entirely accurate.
What I was told was that Paul Ryan, who is the “manager” of the House Republicans’ budget-cutting effort, has decided not to push to include cuts in Social Security as part of the current fight over a Continuing Resolution…because Spring Break is coming up.
Check this out: according to the House Schedule, April 18-29 is Spring Recess, and I was told there’s a lot of concern on the Republican side about what would happen if anyone made any crazy Social Security proposals right now…when they have to go home and face you and me and the rest of the Angry Nation in just about two weeks.
(There’s some evidence to back this up: it is now possible that Cantor “misspoke” in that quote a couple of paragraphs up the page; as of this moment I can’t confirm if a "full backpedal" is officially underway or not.)
We can discern two things from that little nugget: for starters, we are having an impact on this fight—but beyond that, we also now know that we have two weeks to publicly torment those Members of Congress who are looking to cut Social Security…and we have two weeks to get ready.
Since hunger strikes are already underway, here are a few other ideas you’re welcome to steal to make your statement:
Is your Member going to be appearing at a community center or a friendly church?
Well how about arriving a few hours early and setting up a cardboard “Social Security Tahrir Square”?
You could have a box that’s the local “Catfood Grocery”, you could paint one of the boxes to look like “Grandma’s Gingerbread Box”, and you could even have a “Long-Term Care Facility” and hand out fliers of your own—and make sure you catch the reaction of the Congressional Staff on video to set up the bigger video of you interacting with the crowd…or y’all being ejected by the suddenly fearful Representative…or y’all “making happy” with a supportive Member.
Now you’re going to love this one, and there are two ways you can make it work.
What we’ll be playing on are the proposals to increase the retirement age and how we’ll be asking old people to do jobs that, obviously, they just can’t; what I basically want you to do is either go to an event…or outside one of the Members’ District Offices…and create a “job training center” for senior citizens.
Get a wheelbarrow and load it with a nice load of bricks, maybe fill some oval trays with a mess of plates and beverageware (safety first on this one; beware of glass and ceramic—and don’t forget the jackstands), and then rustle up a transfer belt and a heavy volunteer and simulate what nurses and their aides do all day long, and all night, too: lifting and transferring those who can’t do it for themselves.
Take it all to the venue, and you can either “train” your own 70+ year-old students…who might not be old enough to retire, under the new proposals…on how to do these types of jobs while the crowd watches—or you can invite older members of the crowd to try their hand at moving the bricks, or lifting the tray. Bring a medical worker and you can show them what lifting looks like, too—although I would be unlikely to invite the crowd to do that one without some kind of training.
(Do I have to warn you that this could get someone hurt, and you’ll have to use a reasonable amount of caution when you do this? I didn’t think so.)
Again, get it all on video—and then get that video right up on the Web.
Our final idea for today might be my favorite—but that might be because I used to be a caterer, and this really fits my sense of humor.
You know those “Top Chef” and “Iron Chef” shows?
And you know how we refer to that Deficit Commission as the Catfood Commission?
Well…why not sponsor a “Catfood Contest” at your Congresscritter’s event?
Again, you could go two ways: invite “contestants” in chef’s whites to create delightful dishes with the Commission’s Catfood, or you could judge competing sculptures; they do both at the Spam Jam in Waikiki, and if it was me I’d steal the ambiance of this kind of an event from Hawai’i, especially since it’s Spring Break season anyway.
An alternative way to do this: performance art of an elderly couple having a Catfood Commission BBQ, cooking Catfood patties on portable grills to make a point.
So there you go:
We have two weeks to get ready to have two great weeks of fun just really tightening the screws on those Members of Congress who are looking to jack America out of Social Security, and we have ideas on the table that you are entirely welcome to borrow, or adapt, or outright steal—and with any luck, other readers will toss in some ideas of their own—so get your art on, gather your props, and bring extra video batteries and a blank tape to give the police…just in case.
And here’s one last thing to remember: this isn’t just about turning back a disastrous plan to break the backs of Americans for decades to come—it’s also about having a good time.
Well-executed comedy makes people agree with you, and to like your message, and that’s a powerful thing; the more fun you’re having, the better the whole thing is going to work.
Now go forth, make some mischief, and watch the magic happen.
FULL DISCLOSURE: This post was written with the support of the CAF State Blogger's Network Project.
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