Tuesday, March 15, 2011

TIME GOES BY | Help Save Social Security Today

by Ronni Bennett

I know some of you, certainly those outside the U.S., are may be frustrated that I keep banging on about Social Security and I promise we'll do something fun here before the week is out.

But there is also serious business to be conducted in regard to Social Security. If Congress does not reach a budget agreement or another continuing resolution, a government shutdown is looming again (already!) for midnight Friday.

Either way, Social Security is in dire jeopardy. Early last week, I laid out what that means to current recipients, new applicants and those who need to do business with the agency. You can read it here.

Another continuing resolution will hold Social Security administrative funding at 2010 levels. Worse, however, a majority of Senate Republicans last week supported the $1.7 billion in cuts to the program – below 2010 levels - in the budget being argued in Congress and there are indications that it may pass before the Friday deadline.

The National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare (NCPSSM) alerted me to this footage from a hearing on 9 March where SSA head, Michael Astrue (a Bush appointee), testified before the Senate Appropriations subcommittee. Please listen to him carefully:

The biggest threat to Social Security is in Congress and we need to tell those members that they must protect this program from any cuts. The most effective way to do this, I am told by all the people I speak with in Washington, is by telephone.

That is because Congressional offices are required to tally all the calls they get. And of course, the biggest threat to Congress members – keep this is mind particularly for Republicans – is our vote. The NCPSSM has a toll-free number you can use to contact your senators' offices.


You will hear a short message from the NCPSSM about the proposed cuts to Social Security and then you will be asked to enter your five-digit Zip Code to get to your senators' numbers.

Please do this. It won't take long and if it's easier for you, you can write out your message and read it. It's okay to do that. I've done it myself so that I don't ramble on until I bore the poor aide to death.

Secondly – I've mentioned this before too – Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, who may be elders' best advocate in Congress, has set up the Defend Social Security Caucus. You don't need to be a Vermont resident to join and you can do that here. Of course, it's free.

While you're at his website, be sure to take his poll about which programs you would be willing to see cut – or not – as a way to reduce the deficit. This helps Sanders and others in Congress in crafting legislation.
I have often asked you to write or phone Congress but the threat to Social Security still exists and like the people who showed up to protest every day for three weeks in Wisconsin no matter what the weather, we need to to keep telling Congress what we want and what we reject.

This is not just for those of us who are current beneficiaries of Social Security. A lot of the people who read Time Goes By – our friends here – will not reach the age of eligibility for another decade and we need to do everything we can so they will have benefits as good as ours.

And don't forget too, that our children and grandchildren will need this program. So please make those phone calls and then come back here and leave a message in the comments about the response you got. That could help encourage others to phone.

TIME GOES BY | Help Save Social Security Today
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