Progressive Groups Demand that Super Committee Democrats Preserve Social Security and Medicare

Washington, DC – As the so-called Super Committee nears its deadline, activist groups have become increasingly alarmed that Democrats on the Committee (and Democratic leaders) may go along with a deficit deal that might cut Social Security and Medicare benefits in exchange for small revenue increases. Many organizations have released strong statements warning Democrats that such a deal would be bad policy AND bad politics. These groups are meeting with Senators and Representatives in DC and in their home states and districts. Thousands of Americans are sending emails, letters and faxes to the Members of the Super Committee and to Democratic Leadership in Congress to remind their Representatives that Americans want jobs not Social Security and Medicare cuts.

In recent days, strong statements and action emails (See below) have been issued by the Campaign for America’s Future, the AFL-CIO, Social Security Works, , Credo, the National Organization for Women, and Progressives United — all asking activists to send a strong message to the Super Committee.

Roger Hickey, co-director of the Campaign for America’s Future, said, “Organizations representing millions of Americans are rallying and urging our elected leaders to work on creating jobs now and not on cutting badly needed programs. We need to get our economy going again, so let’s keep Social Security and health care benefits that put money in Americans’ pockets and customers in stores.” Hickey said, “Congress should take away deficit-busting tax giveaways for millionaires.”

Each progressive group’s campaign is slightly different, but the points are the same in all: Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid are lifelines that help millions of Americans stay out of poverty. They tell politicians that we can strengthen Social Security’s financial future – and reform health care to control costs — without cutting promised benefits. For example, gradually raising the payroll tax just two percent over the next two decades would generate enough income to keep Social Security up and running for 75 years. Americans oppose cuts to Social Security, and almost 90% of Americans say Social Security has been good for our country.

Here are only a few of the public statements and action emails by leaders and groups in recent days:

1. Richard Trumka, President of the AFL-CIO:
“According to press reports, Democratic senators on the “Super Committee” have proposed hundreds of billions of dollars in cuts to Social Security and Medicare benefits, as well as Medicaid, while Republicans proposed even bigger and more harmful cuts to these essential middle class benefits. These “Super Committee” Democrats have put all their concessions on the table up front in the vain hope that the Republicans might reciprocate. But it doesn’t work that way. In this political climate, concessions beget more concessions – not a workable compromise … The AFL-CIO will oppose any cuts to Social Security or Medicare benefits or to the federal contribution to Medicaid. We call on politicians of both parties to stand firm and demand that Wall Street and the wealthy finally pay their fair share – given the extraordinary increases in corporate profits and income inequality in recent years.

2. Roger Hickey, Director of Campaign for America’s Future: “Leaks … indicated that Democrats were proposing at least $200 billion in cuts to Medicare benefits. Today, the Wall Street Journal reports the Democrats also support moving the government to a `chained CPI’ cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) calculation for Social Security. That would shortchange everyone receiving benefits, including people already receiving them. The Campaign for America’s Future has helped lead a large coalition of senior groups that has generally been able to prevent President Obama and the mass of Democratic legislators in the House and Senate from embracing conservative cuts to Social Security and other health and safety net programs. But with the latest news, we are once again urging activists to call, fax and email their representatives and Democratic leaders (like Sen. Harry Reid and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi) – and members of the Super Committee – urging them to reject these proposals that would do damage to the bottom 99 percent of Americans – and to the reputation of the party that represents working and middle class people in this country.

3. Nancy Altman and Eric Kingson, co-chairs of the Strengthen Social Security Campaign: “Rep. John Conyers stood with nine other members of Congress and more than 100 seniors and supporters, to deliver more than 2.3 million petitions from the 99% along with a resolution put forward by 82 members of Congress representing the will of the 99%, with a single message: Hands Off Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid! Almost immediately after these 2.3 million petitions were delivered, the Democrats on the Super Committee completely ignored their message and pushed more cuts to the middle class and less tax increases for millionaires and billionaires than any previous “bipartisan” commission.”

4. Robert Greenstein, President of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities: “The new deficit-reduction plan from a majority of Democrats on the congressional Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction (the “Super Committee”) marks a dramatic departure from traditional Democratic positions — and actually stands well to the right of plans by the co-chairs of the bipartisan Bowles-Simpson commission and the Senate’s “Gang of Six,” and even further to the right of the plan by the bipartisan Rivlin-Domenici commission. The Democratic plan contains substantially smaller revenue increases than those bipartisan proposals while, for example, containing significantly deeper cuts in Medicare and Medicaid than the Bowles-Simpson plan. The Democratic plan features a substantially higher ratio of spending cuts to revenue increases than any of the bipartisan plans.”

5. Jim Dean, Co-Chair of Democracy for America: “Democrats on the so-called Super Committee are caving to Republican demands and pushing a plan that would make drastic cuts to Medicare. This is bad policy and bad politics. Cuts like these are the worst possible way to reduce the deficit. They protect the status quo for the richest 1 percent while the 99 percent are expected to sacrifice vital healthcare that they need to survive in tough economic times like these — and they’ll hamstring Democrats running for reelection in 2012. We’ve been down this road before. Republicans and some Democrats have been pushing plans to destroy Medicare and Social Security for months. We’ve beat them then and we can beat them now with an overwhelming show of grassroots opposition to any plan that cuts Medicare.”

6. Terry O’Neill, President of the National Organization for Women: “Women will not be the only ones who lose out as a result of a so-called `grand bargain’ that trades away the economic security of seniors, children, people of color, persons with disabilities and millions of low-income families in exchange for continued tax breaks for the wealthiest. Elected officials, including the president and Democrats, who have claimed to embrace the values represented by Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, will surely lose out as well.”

7. Russ Feingold, Progressives United: “Tens of thousands of progressives have told the super committee Democrats to walk away from any deal that includes cuts to Medicare or Social Security benefits. The super committee has until November 23 to recommend $1.5 trillion in deficit reduction over the next decade, and that means the pressure from corporate lobbyists, the administration, and more is only going to grow. We need to make sure Democrats on the super committee feel the pressure only progressives can bring. We need to urge them to stand by our progressive principles:
1. Ensure millionaires, billionaires, and big corporations pay their fair share of debt reduction,
2. No cuts to Social Security, Medicare, or Medicaid benefits,
3. No giveaways to corporate interests,
4. Or no deal.”

8. Max Richtman, CEO of the National Committee to Preserve Social Security & Medicare: The National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare’s “Hands Off-No Cuts” campaign unveils its second television ad airing in the Washington, D.C., Maryland and Virginia markets beginning on Wednesday, November 2nd. Featuring young and old individuals from different walks of life, the ad tells Congress that whether we’re Republican, Democrat or Independent, “one thing we all agree on is Hands Off, No Cuts to Social Security and Medicare.” Richtman said, “This ad reminds Washington’s leaders of the vital role Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid play in the lives of middle-class Americans already suffering in this tough economy. The bottom line is the vast majority of Americans, of all ages and political parties do not support cutting these programs in the name of deficit reduction. And even though Social Security does not contribute to the deficit some members of the Super Committee appear ready to cut benefits to average Americans while leaving tax cuts for the wealthy untouched. This ad tells Congress that millions of hard-working Americans will be impacted over generations by the choices made over the next few weeks—people aren’t line-items, they’re not bargaining chips and their benefits shouldn’t be used to pay for a deficit they didn’t create.”