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December 11, 2010

 
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Modified: December 11, 2010

 

 

National Gray Panthers

1612 K Street NW Ste. 300
Washington, DC 20006
(800) 280-5362 or (202) 737-6637
Fax: (202) 737-1160
E-mail: info@graypanthers.org
Exec. Director, Susan Murany
smurany@graypanthers.org
Web: www.graypanthers.org

California Chapters

East Bay/Berkeley
Margot Smith
1403 Addison Street
Berkeley, CA 94702
510-548-9696
graypanthersberk@aol.com

Central Costra Costa
Ralph Copperman
3 Penrith Walk
Pleasant Hill, CA 94523
doriscopp@earthlink.net

Marin County
Yvette Wakefield, Convenor
PO Box 2874
San Rafael, CA 94912
415-332-5929
baelek@pacbell.net

Sacramento
Margie Metzler, Convenor
PO Box 19438
Sacramento, CA 95819
916-921-5008 or 248-6148
margiemetz@hotmail.com
Web: www.gpcal.org

San Francisco
Sonia Siegel, Convenor
1182 Market St., Room 203
San Francisco, CA 94102
415-552-8800 (11-1 M-F)
graypanther-sf@sbcglobal.net
Web: www.graypantherssf.igc.org

Santa Barbara
Cheri Jasinski, Convenor
5110A Cathedral Oaks Road
Santa Barbara, CA 93111
(805) 967-7170
jasinskicj@aol.com

Southern Alameda County
Betty Moose, Convenor
1328 Via El Monte
San Lorenzo, CA 94580
510-278-2094
james.forsyth@sbcglobal.net

South Bay
Jim Dawson, Convenor
PO Box 7138
Torrence, CA 90504
310-217-9202
jrdawson@earthlink.net

New York

New York
Judy Lear, Convenor
165 West 86th Street
New York, NY 10024
212-799-7572, 212-682-6569
judylear@aol.com
www.geocities.com/GrayPanthersNY/

Suffolk County
Blanche Mulholland and
George Reilly
PO Box 1395
Ronkonkoma, NY 11779
Blanche: 631-471-6614
George: 631-665-6383


Marilyn Engelman
7909 George Link Jr. Circle
Coram, NY 11727-2417
631-736-7875
intoeverythingananda@yahoo.com


Oregon

Portland
Jim Davis
1020 SW Taylor, Suite 610
Portland, OR 97205
503-224-1585
davisjasr@aol.com

Rhode Island

Rhode Island
Kathy Kushnir, Ex. Dir.
133 MathewsonSt.
Providence, RI 02903
401-274-6900 x707
Fax: 401-453-1149
graypanthersri@yahoo.com

Texas

Austin
Paula Mixson co-convenor
2020 Northridge Dr.
Austin, TX 78723-2615
512-220-6209 or 512-298-1122
paula.mixson@grandecom.net

Clint Smith, Co-convenor
Jeanette Payne, Staff
3710 Cedar Street, Room 223/Box 15
Austin, TX 78705
512-458-3738
graypanthers@grandecom.net
www.gp-austin.org

Texas Regional Coordinator:
Charlotte Flynn
wbillflynn@austin.rr.com

Houston
Aimee Mobley Turney
5616 Portal Dv.
Houston, TX 77096
713-729-3130
aimee.turney@earthlink.net

Av.?", Convenor
amie3b77@ev1.net

Greater Metro Washington
1426-9th St. NW
Washington, DC 20001
gpanther@capaccess.org

Luci Murphy
1449 Oak St. NW #11
Washington, DC 20010
202-234-8840

ljustlikeatree@hotmail.com

Florida

North Dade
Dot Fleisher
861 North Venetian Drive
Maimi, FL 33139
305-374-8240
yanow420@aol.com (Claire Yanow)

South Dade
Norman Saxe
10725 SW 82nd Avenue
Miami, FL 33156
305-595-0594
normansaxe@aol.com

Michigan

Huron Valley
Jane Rusten
1733 Dunmore Rd.
Ann Arbor, MI 48103
734-996-2599
junear5575@sbcglobal.net

Metro Detroit
Randy Block and Ethel Schwartz
PO Box 37033
Oak Park, MI 48237
Randy: 248-549-5170 (night)
313-446-4444 x5842
beelock47@comcast.net
ethel: 248-669-6343
ethel4solidarity@aol.com
www.graypanthersmetrodetroit.org

Minnesota

Twin Cities
Sally Brown and Jane Hanger-Seeley
3249 Hennepin Avenue, S, #220
Minneapolis, MN 55408
612-822-1011
info@graypantherstwincities.org
Sally: sab@wilder.org
Jane: hangerseeley@aol.com
Web:www.graypantherstwincities.org

New Jersey

Southern New Jersey
George W. Hunt
43 Village of Stoney Run #G
Maple Shade, NJ 0852-2143
856-727-4667
geohunt1@aol.com

New Mexico

Greater Albuquerque

Marty Mitchell
2955 Ryder SE
Albuquerque, NM 87106
505-266-1254
e.mjmitch@swcp.com

Gray Panthers Liaisons

Gray Panthers now helps you be part of our organization even if you live in a rural area or otherwise don't have anough people to start a network.

As a Liaison, you may do some or all of these things:

  • Connect with others in your area
  • Give out information about the Gray Panthers organization
  • Relay information to you from other Gray Panthers organizations regarding Gray Panthers activities

To join, download this form, fill it out, and mail or e-mail to Susan Murany:

1612 K Street NW Ste. 300
Washington, DC 20006
(800) 280-5362 or (202) 737-6637; Fax: (202) 737-1160
smurany@graypanthers.org

ARIZONA LIAISON: Tucson
Rachel Zane
T: 520-745-3660
E: zane00@copper.net

Chicago
Giudi Weiss
T: 773/955-1224
F: 773/955-2869
E: giudi@sprynet.com

Philadelphia Area
Eileen Borenstein
T: 215-885-0982
E: esb@netreach.net

Social Security 2010

Contents


What are we doing now?
The latest Crisis: the Payroll Tax Holiday threatens Social Security:
The Tax Deal: Why I hate it
Margie Metzler
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:

  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 is based on this very successful effort.
  2. 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 hawks.
  • 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 Contacts below.)
  • 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 Central committee.
    *************************************************************************
    Short version
    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 he refers.
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.

Randy Block

*************************************************************************
http://blog.heritage.org/?p=26386
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 more…
**************************************************************************

Obama's Stealth Attack on Social Security http://www.timegoesby.net/weblog/2010/12/obamas-stealth-attack-on-social-security.html

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 in both.

"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… ********************************************************************************
The Effort to Claim That Economists Support Obama's Capitulation on Tax Cuts for the Wealthy
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/william-k-black/the-effort-to-claim-that-_b_794862.html
William K. Black, Huff Post
Dec. 10, 2010
You know the administration is desperate when it creates a web page citing economists who support its capitulation on taxes. Read more…
******************************************************************************
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 more…. Cutting 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 Read more… FDR, FRANCES PERKINS, PAYROLL TAX HOLIDAY, SOCIAL SECURITY
http://bestpossiblelife.wordpress.com/2010/12/09/payroll-tax-holiday-another-idea-that-could-come-from-the-grinch/
Payroll tax holiday — another idea that could come from the Grinch
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
http://www.mercurynews.com/san-mateo-county/ci_16829980
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 political values.
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 more….
***************************************************************************************************

Nov. 10, 2010, Fiscal Commission Co-Chairs Unexpectedly Post Report: Gray Panthers Take Action; Commission Packs up and goes away

Gray Panthers Fight for Social Security!
Gray 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. 85% of
    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.
    Participants were evenly divided about options presented to reform the tax code.
    Other documents from this event:
What can you do?
Write the President, Senators, Congresspeople
Contact info: (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
e-mail: https://lungren.house.gov/?sectionid=91
Phone: (202) 225-5716 District Office Phone: (916) 859-9906 • Fax: (916) 859-9976
Congresswoman Doris Matsui
Washington, D.C. Office Phone: (202) 225-7163; Fax: (202) 225-0566
Sacramento Office Phone: (916) 498-5600 Fax: (916) 444-6117
501 I Street, Suite 12-600, Sacramento, CA 95814-7305
e-mail: http://www.matsui.house.gov/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=421&Itemid=92
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 95746
Phone: (916) 786-5560; Fax: (916) 786-6364
e-mail: http://mcclintock.house.gov/contact/
Senator Barbara Boxer
Email: http://boxer.senate.gov/en/contact/
Office: 501 I Street, Suite 7-600, Sacramento, CA 95814
(916) 448-2787; (202) 228-3865 fax; DC: (202) 224-3553
Senator Dianne Feinstein: e-mail: http://feinstein.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?FuseAction=ContactUs.EmailMe
San Francisco: One Post Street, Suite 2450, San Francisco, CA 94104
Main: (415) 393-0707; Fax: (415) 393-0710
Washington, D.C.: United States Senate, 331 Hart Senate Office Building 20510
Phone: (202) 224-3841 Fax: (202) 228-3954

Resources: More information on Social Security
Complete toolkit produced by www.socialsecuritymatters.org and repurposed for us
OWL-CA and Gray Panthers Call to action

 

Resources

WEBSITES
FACT SHEETS
The Toolkit
Children and Families Have a Stake in Social Security, April 2010 – Generations United.
Single Women’s Retirement Income Falls Short of the Elder Economic Security Standard™ Index, March 2009 – Wider Opportunities for Women (WOW). BLOGS
Social Security Isn’t In ‘Crisis’ - but Older Women Are, March 2010 - Stacy Sanders, WOW.
Doing Nothing Huffington Post, January 2010 - Ashley Carson, OWL.
Senators…Keep your hands off Social Security Pension News, November 2009 - Karen Friedman, the Pension Rights Center.
www.owlca.blogspot.com: A senior woman on Social Security (Margie Metzler) REPORTS AND PRESENTATIONS
Social Security and the Age of Retirement, June 2010 – Center for Economic Policy Research (CEPR).
Opposing View: Hands off Social Security, March 2010 - Josh Bivens.
Taming the Deficit - Saving Our Children from Themselves, December 2009 - Dean Baker and David Rosnick, CEPR.
Statement to the Senate Budget Committee, November 2009 - Nancy J. Altman, J.D., et al.
Fixing Social Security: Adequate Benefits, Adequate Financing, October 2009 – National Academy of Social Insurance (NASI).
Economic Crisis Fuels Support for Social Security, October 2009 – NASI.
Demystifying the Deficit, Social Security Finances and the Budget, August 2009 – Ashley Carson, OWL
Social Security Finances: Findings of the 2009 Trustees Report, May 2009 - Joni Lavery, NASI.
CEPR Statement on Social Security Trustees Report, May 2009 – CEPR.
BOOKS
    • 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 Security
Nancy Altman testifying to the commission