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Central Costra Costa
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PO Box 2874
San Rafael, CA 94912
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PO Box 19438
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1182 Market St., Room 203
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Southern Alameda County
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512-220-6209 or 512-298-1122
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Jeanette Payne, Staff
3710 Cedar Street, Room 223/Box 15
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Social Security 2010
latest Crisis: the Payroll Tax
Holiday threatens Social
The Tax Deal: Why I hate it
Wednesday, December 08, 2010
President Obama has announced a “deal”
with Republican leaders that leaves Republicans gloating and Democrats
demoralized and depressed. It has been presented in the press as
a two-year extension of tax cuts for the wealthy and for the middle
class, in return for a one year extension of unemployment benefits.
First, keep in mind that this conversation is not over. There is
yet no bill, and plenty of people are still fighting it.
But critically for seniors on Social Security, there is a one year
“holiday” of the payroll tax, from 6.2% to 4.2%. The
payroll tax is the tax that workers pay that goes to support people
currently on Social Security. As soon as a worker earns $106,800,
she has reached the “cap,” and the payroll tax is no
longer levied until the next year.
We have always advocated that raising this cap when necessary is
the best way to keep Social Security solvent.
When I first read about the cut in payroll taxes
its importance slipped right by me. A 2% cut; so what?
But a 2% cut amounts to a 16% cut in the money going into the
system to support seniors currently in the system, and those entering
this year. This will be catastrophic.
People hostile to Social Security have long known that it is
hard to kill it because—surprise! —people like it.
So their strategy has been twofold:
Divide the nation into two groups: those currently
on Social Security and those far from it. Convince the first
group that they will be able to stay on Social Security (and
to hell with everyone else), and the second that it won’t
be there by the time they get that old, so why fight for it?
The whole privatization argument is based on this very successful
- Starve the beast (Grover Norquist): ensure there isn’t
enough money to keep the system going, so it gradually crumbles
away to nothing. (The current fight.)
The 16% cut in Social Security income would be a huge hit in
the next year. And is it likely the cut will be reinstated in
a year? No. It will be framed as a tax increase, especially with
the current Congress, making it virtually impossible to return
to sustainable levels.
Other important concerns include:
How will the missing income be replaced? By
borrowing from the General fund. We will be replacing money
from the trust fund and with debt. And more, the 75-year
principle of a fence between Social Security and the general
fund will be breached permanently, making Social Security a
contributor to the deficit and even more of a target by deficit
It’s easy to enact tax cuts, but
hard to end them. Remember the “temporary”
Bush tax cuts for the wealthy? Restoring the payroll tax cut
on someone making $100,000 a year will be framed as a tax increase
of $2,000, or $400 on someone making $20,000 a year.
It will undermine Social Security’s long-term
solvency. It would double the 75-year projected shortfall in
the 1010 Trustees Report.
If it’s not paid back, it will lead to
massive benefits cuts, and ultimately turn the program into
a charity rather than an insurance program.
It will promote privatization of Social Security.
Once people are used to having the 2% cut they will be more
susceptible to arguments that they should be able to invest
this money. And the next crash with wipe them out.
We MUST fight back!
- Please continue to
call and write your Senators, Congress members and Senators. (See
Speak with friends and family, in the grocery
store line, in classes, on the street. With younger people,
suggest that Social Security will be in crisis only if we don't
fight for it. And with older people, we are all in this together
and it matters for our children and grandchildren.
If you know someone who wants a speaker, please
let me know. I have my own projector and will travel.
Continue to ally ourselves with other organizations
of like minds and rally, write, and yell.
Keep those letters to the editor coming.
Pass this and other articles on to everyone
you can think of.
See if you can get a resolution passed by your
This "deal" has been presented in the press as an
extension of tax cuts for the wealthy in return for an extension
of unemployme¬nt benefits.
But critically, there is also a one year “holiday”
of the payroll tax, from 6.2% to 4.2%. The payroll tax paid
by workers goes to support those currently on Social Security.
But a 2% cut amounts to a 30% cut in the money going into the
system. This will be catastrophic.
People hostile to Social Security have long known that it is
hard to kill it because—surprise! —people like it.
So their strategy has been twofold:
1. Divide the nation into two groups: those currently on Social
Security and those far from it. Convince the first group that
they will be able to stay on Social Security (and to hell with
everyone else), and the second that it won’t be there
by the time they get that old, so why fight for it? The whole
privatization argument comes out of this.
2. Starve the beast (Grover Norquist): make sure there isn’t
enough money to keep it going, so it gradually crumbles away
to nothing. (The current fight.)
The 30% cut in Social Security income will be a huge hit in
the next year, if it passes. But is it likely the cut will be
reinstated in a year? That will be framed as a tax increase,
especially with the current Congress, which will make it virtually
impossible to return to sustainable levels.
Randy Block of Gray Panthers (MI) wrote
the following. Under that is the Heritage blog article to which
To Vice President Joe Biden/Staff of the Vice President:
I'm am unemployed American who just started getting unemployment
compensation. I am grateful that this safety net will probably be
there for me and others struggling to find a job within the next
12 months. However, I'm angry that a Payroll Tax "Holiday"
could become a poison pill for the future solvency of the Social
Security Trust fund.
1. Withholding 2% of payroll deductions that would normally go into
the Social Security "Trust" fund results in a 16% reduction
($120 billion) in the amount of the REAL MONEY going in to the Social
Security "Trust" fund.
2. If we are not again held hostage by the Republicans on this issue,
you will be allowed to replace the borrowed $120 billion with government
IOU's from the general fund. Republicans (see Heritage Foundation
position on Payroll Tax Holidays from February 2010: http://blog.heritage.org/?p=26386)
are likely to oppose repayment from the general fund in the SS Trust
Fund as more deficit spending.
3. When the one year Payroll Tax Holiday expires, Republicans will
argue that stopping this diversion from the SS Trust Fund will represent
"raising taxes". If the economy still needs priming, your
administration may be pressured to say yes again to extending the
Payroll Tax Holiday.
4. Of course, undermining the solvency of the Trust Fund by diverting
funds from it, sets the stage for the privatizers who want to argue
that we should allow payroll deductions into private investments
in lieu of SS/FICA payments.
There are MANY people who feel exactly as I do about this issue.
Please work to restore my trust that the Social Security Trust Fund
will keep solvent. Find another way to help workers than undermining
their future retirement benefits under Social Security.
Posted February 15th, 2010 at 1:00pm in Enterprise and Free Markets
Despite efforts by Senator Baucus (D-MT) and Senator Grassley (R-IA)
to draft a broad and bi-partisan federal legislation as part of
another round of federal “stimulus” Senator Reid (D-NV)
has now derailed the endeavor. After eliminating most of the tax
cuts in the bi-partisan effort put forward by Senators Baucus and
Grassley, one of the few “tax cuts” Senator Reid has
retained is the payroll tax holiday plan.
How Is It Financed? The payroll tax holiday program will be financed
with money from general revenues. Specifically, those funds otherwise
used from the Treasury—amounting to lost revenue in the Federal
Social Security OASDI Trust Fund—will be “replenished”
with equal amounts from the federal general revenue account.
Implications to Social Security. The Social Security system is effectively
drained of real money. Read
Obama's Stealth Attack on Social Security
IMPORTANT UPDATE: Please read the post below
and then come back to read this update.
The National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare
(NCPSSM) tells me that time is of the essence on this proposal
as Congressional members try to get out of Washington for
the holidays. In an email, the NCPSSM said,
“Flooding members' offices is what is absolutely needed...House
members have been far more vocal in their opposition to this
deal than we’ve seen in the Senate but it’s vital
that seniors and their families contact their representatives
"Far too many in Washington don’t understand
the fundamental threat of what’s being proposed and they need
to hear from seniors.” Read
more and take action…
Published on The Nation http://www.thenation.com/article/157022/obama-threatens-social-security
Obama Threatens Social Security
William Greider | December 9, 2010
The most dangerous feature in the president's proposed compromise
on taxes is not the $700 billion tax cut for billionaires. It is
the Trojan horse provision that threatens to destroy Social Security
by undermining the longterm solvency of the social insurance system.
Barack Obama has proposed to knock two percent off the FICA deductions
every worker regularly contributes to the Social Security Trust
Fund, the money set aside for their future retirement benefits.
Obama’s one-year tax relief sounds attractive and workers
can surely use the money, but the consequences could prove deadly
for the federal government’s most popular program. Read
contributions to Social Security Signals the Beginning of the End
By NCPSSM | December 7, 2010
PAYROLL TAX “HOLIDAY” IS ANYTHING BUT
“Even though Social Security contributed nothing to the current
economic crisis, it has been bartered in a deal that provides deficit
busting tax cuts for the wealthy. Diverting $120 billion in Social
Security contributions for a so-called ‘tax holiday’
may sound like a good deal for workers now but it’s bad business
for the program that a majority of middle-class seniors will rely
upon in the future.”… Barbara B. Kennelly, President/CEO
FDR, FRANCES PERKINS, PAYROLL TAX HOLIDAY, SOCIAL SECURITY
Payroll tax holiday — another idea that could come from the
In Uncategorized on December 9, 2010 at 3:04 pm
During the Reagan era, an administration staffer came up with the
term “starve the beast” when discussing his perceived
solution of cutting taxes to force a reduction in government spending.
Today, opponents of Social Security, who evidently consider the
program a “beast,” are working overtime to cut its funding
and thus force the pay-as-you-go program to reduce benefits —
perhaps eventually leading to a far different program. Read
more…. The Insider: Speier rips
Obama, tax cut deal
Rep. Jackie Speier on Friday lambasted the tax cut deal President
Barack Obama reached with Republicans this week, vowing not to support
it unless key provisions are changed, and she questioned the president's
Speier said the package doesn't do enough to stimulate the economy,
gives away far too much to the rich and threatens the existence
of Social Security.
"It's more than TARP, it's more than the stimulus, it's more
than any of the interventions we have undertaken (to spur the economy),"
she said of the estimated $900 billion deal.” Read
10, 2010, Fiscal Commission Co-Chairs Unexpectedly Post Report:
Gray Panthers Take Action; Commission Packs up and goes away
• The Report: http://www.fiscalcommission.gov/about
• Huffington Post article by Sam Stein: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/11/10/debt-commission-report-social-security-medicare-_n_781606.html
• Washington Post article by Ezra Klein: http://voices.washingtonpost.com/ezra-klein/2010/11/there_is_no_report_from_the_fi.html
• Mechael Hiltzik, Washington Post: http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/money_co/2010/11/michael-hiltzik-the-deficit-commission-chairs-lies-about-social-security.html
• Eric Kingston of the Strengthen Social Security
cuts benefits for today’s seniors and persons with
disabilities. It cuts Social Security benefits for virtually
every American alive today and yet to be born."
• Paul Krugman, http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/11/10/unserious-people-2/
, explains that if the retirement age is raised, those who
make the least will be paying for those who make the most.
"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
• Complete toolkit produced by www.socialsecuritymatters.org
and repurposed for us: http://www.owlca.org/FinalFullToolkit08102010.doc
• OWL-CA and Gray Panthers Call to action:http://www.owlca.org/commissioncalltoaction.doc
• Social Security and the deficit:http://www.owlca.org/Social%20Security%20and%20the%20deficit.doc
• List of resources: http://www.owlca.org/Resources.doc
• Sample letter: http://www.owlca.org/sampleOWL.doc
• Contacts: http://www.owlca.org/Contact%20Obama%20Now.doc
• “Achieving a ‘Leninist’ Strategy.”
(The Cato Journal, Fall 1983; http://www.cato.org/pubs/journal/cj3n2/cj3n2-11.pdf.
• Social Security Blog: www.owlca.blogspot.com
Gray Panthers Fight
for Social Security!
Panthers Participates in 19 America Speaks Events
3,500 Americans gathered
together at 57 sites across the country to deliberate about
our nation’s fiscal future on Saturday, June 26, 2010.
This event was largely sponsored by the Peter G. Peterson Foundation,
whose founder has long been a foe of Social Security. Many of
us in Gray Panthers, OWL, CARA, MoveOn and other organizations
therefore felt it was important to attend and ensure that the
voices of seniors would be heard. This was doubly important
to us as we were assured that members of the Deficit Commission,
which appears to be will to throw Social Security under the
bus in the mistaken belief that doing so would help reduce the
deficit. Luckily we did, because we had a real impact on the
result. One of the ideas for reducing the deficit we were urged
to consider was "fixing" Social Security in several
ways; we rejected these ideas completely. Here are some of the
results, as reported on their website.
Among spending options,
reductions in defense spending received the greatest support.
participants expressed support for reducing defense spending
by at least 5%, which included 51% of participants who expressed
support for a 15% cut. 68% of participants expressed support
for reducing All Other Non-Defense spending by at least
5%. 62% of participants expressed support for reducing health
care spending by at least 5%. No options for reducing Social
Security benefits received a majority of support. Rather,
60% of participants expressed support for raising the cap
on payroll taxes to 90%.
Among revenue options,
54% of participants expressed support for raising income
taxes on those earning more than $1 million by five percent
and 52% of participants expressed support for raising personal
tax rates for the top two income brackets by at least 10%.
54% of participants expressed support for establishing a
carbon tax and 50% of participants supported the establishment
of a securities-transaction tax. No options for reducing
deductions and credits received majority support.
evenly divided about options presented to reform the tax
documents from this event:
Write the President, Senators,
(Note: some Senators and Congressmembers accept
e-mails from consituents only and some accept from all. Just Google
any of them and click on Contact)
Contact President Obama
White House website form: http://www.whitehouse.gov/CONTACT/
Write to the President: The White House, 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
NW, Washington, DC 20500
Phone Numbers: Comments: 202-456-1111; Switchboard: 202-456-1414
Congressman Dan Lungren
2339 Gold Meadow Way, Suite 220
Gold River, CA 95670
Phone: (202) 225-5716 District Office Phone: (916) 859-9906 •
Fax: (916) 859-9976
Congressman Tom McClintock
Washington, D.C. Office: 508 Cannon HOB, Washington, D.C. 20515
Phone: (202) 225-2511; Fax: (202) 225-5444
District Office: 4230 Douglas Blvd. Suite 200, Granite Bay, Ca
Phone: (916) 786-5560; Fax: (916) 786-6364
Senator Barbara Boxer
Office: 501 I Street, Suite 7-600, Sacramento, CA 95814
(916) 448-2787; (202) 228-3865 fax; DC: (202) 224-3553
More information on Social Security
and Families Have a Stake in Social Security
, April 2010 –
Women’s Retirement Income Falls Short of the Elder Economic
Security Standard™ Inde
x, March 2009 – Wider Opportunities
for Women (WOW). BLOGS
Security Isn’t In ‘Crisis’ - but Older Women Are
March 2010 - Stacy Sanders, WOW.
Nothing Huffington Post
, January 2010 - Ashley Carson, OWL.
your hands off Social Security
Pension News, November 2009 -
Karen Friedman, the Pension Rights Center.
A senior woman on Social Security (Margie Metzler) REPORTS AND PRESENTATIONS
Security and the Age of Retirement,
June 2010 – Center
for Economic Policy Research (CEPR).
View: Hands off Social Security
, March 2010 - Josh Bivens.
the Deficit - Saving Our Children from Themselves,
2009 - Dean Baker and David Rosnick, CEPR.
to the Senate Budget Committee,
November 2009 - Nancy J. Altman,
J.D., et al.
Social Security: Adequate Benefits, Adequate Financin
2009 – National Academy of Social Insurance (NASI).
Crisis Fuels Support for Social Security
, October 2009 –
the Deficit, Social Security Finances and the Budget
2009 – Ashley Carson, OWL
Social Security Finances: Findings of the 2009 Trustees Report,
- Joni Lavery, NASI.
Statement on Social Security Trustees Report
, May 2009 –
Social Security: The Phony Crisis
by Dean Baker and Mark Weisbrot. 1999.
The Battle for Social Security
by Nancy Altman. 2005.
Social Security and its Enemies: The
Case for America’s Most Efficient Insurance Program.
Max J. Skidmore. 1999.
False Alarm: Why the Greatest Threat
to Social SEcurity and Medicare is the Campaign to "Save"
Them. Joseph White. A Century Foundation Book. 2001.
The Plot Against Social Security:
How the Bush Plan is Endangering Our Financial Future.
Michael A. Hiltzik. 2005.
Bernie Sanders: Voice of Sanity on Social
Nancy Altman testifying to the commission