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Social Security & Budget Update

Dear Friends,

First, thank you for the overwhelming responses to CCHCC’s Calls To Action to protect Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid over the past month. Your actions helped to keep these vital social programs from being immediately cut as you joined millions across the country fighting to protect these programs!

Unfortunately, the struggle is far from over for Americans. Yesterday, President Obama signed into law a “compromise” bill, passed by both the Senate and House, that reduces the federal deficit, avoids defaulting on what the government has spent, and allows the President to raise the debt ceiling. This last-minute compromise was developed behind closed doors, providing no transparency to the American public. The text of the Budget Control Act of 2011 was not released to the public until it was introduced on the House floor for a vote. The creation of this new law ensures that the fight for Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid is far from over.

“The deal to raise the debt ceiling is a recipe to raid Social Security, and harm the economic security of American workers and their families… We object to the proposed super Committee of Congress, which can recommend changes to Social Security that will have to be considered on a fast-track basis, without amendment and without the opportunity for unlimited debate in the Senate.”

  –Nancy Altman, co-chair of the Strengthen Social Security Campaign

Please read on for details on what we do know about this legislation, its short and long-term impacts, and what CCHCC will be doing!

DETAILS OF THE BILL:

The Budget Control Act of 2011, signed into law on August 2, 2011, provides two phases of spending cuts (and yes, no revenue increases):

1. $1 trillion in cuts over 10 years, with more than half coming from non-defense discretionary spending programs, including funding for:
    * Meals-on-wheels,
    * Head Start and K-12 education,
    * Domestic violence prevention,
    * Job training,
    * And other vital programs and services for those in crisis and in need.

2. The remainder of cuts (at least $1.5 trillion) would be left for a Super Committee, composed 12 members of Congress, with each party leader in the Senate and House having 3 appointees, to determine and propose by November 23, 2011.
    * It has been made clear by President Obama and others that everything is on the table, including Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.
    * If the Super Committee fails in developing the proposal or getting Congress to pass it with a majority vote by late December, this would trigger subsequent action including a push for a balanced-budget amendment, and if that fails to happen, devastating across-the-board spending cuts would be implemented.

View the “Budget Control Act of 2011” at:
http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.uscongress/legislation.112s365

WHAT THIS MEANS:

Thanks to your actions, we have prevented immediate cuts to Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. Unfortunately, our elected officials have made cuts to other very important programs in the first phase of this legislation. Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid could be next and we must fight to protect our earned benefits!

We are deeply unhappy with this legislation. We believe it was the wrong “solution” to the problem. Not only will we need to fight to protect the programs that were spared in the first round, but we will need to fight to get back the funding for the “discretionary” programs that are now facing budget cuts. This “budget” bill is not balanced in any way — it is all cuts on the expense side, and no income increases. That is not balanced, and it will have to be fixed, somehow, some way.

Regarding Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, there will be critical actions we can take throughout this process to ensure that these programs are protected. First, Congress has about two weeks to make their appointments to the Super Committee. We have to ensure that appointees will oppose any cuts to these vital social programs.

Second, once this Super Committee is established, we must continue our pressure on them to make sure they do not propose ANY cuts to Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid as part of their proposal.

But ultimately, this law will have to be changed almost in its entirety. It is a very bad deal for the American people. We pay with our lives, our health, the programs that help us, while the corporations and the super-wealthy are protected from any increases in taxes. Cutting social programs amounts to tax increases for us at the state and local levels, unless we decide that children should go without Head Start, and the hungry should go without food, and we don’t want to invest in job-training, and other basic social needs that contribute not only to the well-being of individuals, but to the well-being of our communities and our nation.

It was also grossly sick and unfair and despicable to use the threat of holding back Social Security checks in order to negotiate this “compromise” deal. That is like holding the American people hostage and that action completely undermined the sanctity of our “entitlement” programs — you are entitled to your Social Security check because you paid into the system.

Yes, we have a lot to fight for in the months ahead!

WHAT CCHCC STANDS FOR:

Champaign County Health Care Consumers continues to stand firmly opposed to ANY cuts to Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. Social Security is a WORTHY PRIORITY that needs to be protected, not cut! And Social Security is NOT part of the federal (unified) budget — the money that we contribute through FICA (Federal Insurance Contributions Act) payroll tax is put into the Social Security Trust Fund.

CCHCC is going to continue to struggle against cuts to these vital social programs, and we hope we can count on you to continue your activism on this issue. In the next month, CCHCC will be unveiling a new campaign to protect Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid and we will need your involvement to tell Congress to oppose ANY cuts to these programs! We will also have to work hard to find a way to protect the other programs that are on the chopping block, and the people who will be affected by those cuts. In other words, we have to fight to protect what is the very best of uniquely American social programs that benefit individuals, families, communities, and our nation! We need to invest in people, not corporations!

Please stay tuned for updates, more details on our new campaign, and how you can TAKE ACTION to protect our future!

In solidarity,

Champaign County Health Care Consumers

LINKS & RESOURCES:

* Statement from Nancy Altman, Strengthen Social Security Coalition
http://strengthensocialsecurity.org/media/press-release/statement-on-proposed-debt-ceiling-deal

* Statement from Dean Baker, Center for Economic and Policy Research
http://www.cepr.net/index.php/press-releases/press-releases/statement-on-debt-ceiling-deal

* Statement from Joe Baker, Medicare Rights Center
http://www.medicarerights.org/newsroom/pressreleases/2011_35.html

* Budget Control Act of 2011
http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.uscongress/legislation.112s365

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