The Fight to Save Social Security Begins Now

Social SecurityWith national elections barely over, Republicans and Democrats unveiled their real political agenda, in the form of Obama’s Deficit Reduction Commission. The bi-partisan commission has a nightmare vision for working people that, if implemented, will remold American society to mirror the current ruler of U.S. politics — the corporations and wealthy.

The commission openly attacks Social Security and Medicare. The retirement age would be raised from 67 to 68 (for those born after 1959) and from 68 to 69 (for everyone born after 2006). This is divide and rule at its best, meant to target only specific ages of the population in phases, while ignoring those who are currently about to retire.

But current retirees will be affected too. The social security cost of living adjustment will be unhinged from the inflation index to save money, meaning, that payments will decrease via inflation on a possibly annual basis.

Medicare will be cut too. Beneficiaries will pay an estimated $85 billion out of their pockets [!] from 2011-2020, in the form of increased co-pays, deductibles, and other measures. Payments to doctors will decrease, meaning, that fewer doctors will accept Medicaid. This attack on Medicare comes on the heels of the assault Obama launched in his health care “reform;” the program is being reduced to shambles.

Shockingly, one of the commission’s options for tax reform worsens the measures that caused the U.S. deficit in the first place. The Reagan/Bush/Bush Jr. tax cuts for the very wealthy — that depleted federal revenue — would be further increased so that the tax rates would be reduced from 35 to 23 percent (The Obama Administration has recently signaled that it is willing to renege on its pledge to overturn the Bush Jr. tax cuts).

Corporate taxes would be likewise lowered from 35 to 26 percent.

Consequently, taxes on working people are proposed to be raised, albeit indirectly: those fortunate enough to own a home will no longer get a tax deduction for home mortgage interest.

Workers with employee health care will see their health care taxed as income [!].

The federal gas tax will be doubled.

And lastly, the federal workforce will be reduced by about 200,000 by 2015, while those who are retired will see their pensions reduced.
These proposals were explained as a “starting point,” with the implication that cuts could be even deeper.

Richard Trumka, President of the AFL-CIO, responded to the commissions proposals by saying:

“The chairmen of the Deficit Commission just told working Americans to ‘Drop Dead.’ Especially in these tough economic times, it is unconscionable to be proposing cuts to the critical economic lifelines for working people, Social Security and Medicare.”

“What we need to be focusing on now is the jobs deficit. Working families already paid for Wall Street’s party that tanked our economy [the Bush/Obama bank bailouts].”

Trumka is right. He also has a responsibility to back up his words with action. The AFL-CIO and Change to Win unions need to embark on a massive educational campaign about the above bi-partisan proposals that will be implemented, not just by the Republicans, but by Obama and the Democrats.

The unions then need to mobilize a united labor fightback where they demand of the government that it create a massive public works project to put 20 million people back to work, including not only the officially unemployed but the partially employed and those who have given up looking, while taxing Wall Street to pay for it. Labor officials, from the state, city, and workplace level must lead a broad labor-community alliance to confront these attacks on working people.

shamus cookeAll working people have an interest in saving these valuable social programs. Labor and community organizations could unite in local education/action coalitions that aim to save Social Security and Medicare and to create jobs, by raising taxes on the wealthy and corporations to pre-Reagan levels.

The hundreds of millions of dollars that both labor federations spent to elect Democrats has been squandered, again. Working people need to act independently to repulse this bi-partisan attack. The clock is ticking.

Shamus Cooke

Shamus Cooke is a social service worker, trade unionist, and writer for Workers Action ( He can be reached at


  1. mrevans1 says

    As a Disabled Man who Cannot Work Anymore,living in Clovis California,and living on Social Security, NoBama better fight for me and Every Other American Citizen who’s Very Lives Hang on Social Security because this is what Pays my Rent, Utility Bills and Food and Drink.;-( I unfortunateoly Voted For Him back in 2008 when he was Lying About Change and Stuff Like That. So.wheres The Change We Can believe in anyway??? He Lied to us.;-(

    He turned out being Worse Then Evil Never Elected But Ellegally Selected pResident Bushitt with his Illegally Increasing The Troops in Afghanistan who had absolutely nothing to do with either 9/11 or Saddam Hussein or Iraq.

    If NoBama does not Fight For Social Security and Keep It Safe From the Evil Rascist Control Freaking Ultra-Rich Bought Off / Paid For Owened By Big Oil Far Wrong Whacked Out Rethuglican Nazi Party of Hell No Who Want To Completely Destroy It and Funnel All of The $$$ Into Their Evil Greedy Nazi Bank Accounts,I and Millions of Other Decent Law Abiding Disabled Citizens Will End Up Homeless On The Streets or Under a Bridge With No $$$ For Our Rent or Utility Bills and Food and Drink, ;-(

    The Evil Rabbid Wrong Must Be Stopped Before They Do This To Us and NoBama Better Protect All of Us From Them.

    Mr. NoBama Must Stand Up And Fight For Those Who Cannot Stand Up And Fight For Themselves.

    Jim in Clovis CA..

  2. marshall says

    I forgot to point out that everyone should look up the life span for Americans when the social security law was passed. The retirement beneft was only going to be used for 10 or less years. Few of us lived until age 72 in those days. The other parts that were for non-retirement benefits remain much the same.

  3. marshall says

    A lot of well thought out comments, loved the poem.

    Annette- congress pays social security. The current COLA was 0% the last two years, yet I notice increases in costs of some items, fuel and food to name two. If there is no COLA, then the buying power of social security will drop year after year. Years ago, congress would give an increase but it had to pass bothhouses and the pres had to sign it. A $250 check to a person on social security amounts to a 2.5% increase on $10000 a year benefit so it would mean something to a person in need. As a former military elite who worked for $72.00 a month,I wonder the meaning of the use of that term. Without them, we would not be having this free discourse of thoughts.

    The dems only had control of the house the last four years, so what if any, new or increased benefits were passed during that time frame and what, if any,were passed when the GOP had the house?

    As both houses passed the war approval, those costs belong to both.

  4. Wes Tipton says

    This program doesn’t come in all at once, but moves slowly until 2075, at which point most of us won’t be around to see the ultimate result. It does sound like a workable plan, as long as they remove the lame Democrat inspired program to give SS to illegals. That is what liberals always do when in power, and is exactly why the entitlements to the bottom feeders who contribute nothing to this nation is so out of control!
    Please stop whining about the rich and their taxation. As Jay said they make up about 2% of the population and already contribute well over 50% of the taxes the IRS eagerly gobbles up each year. Let’s just tax they and their corporations to death and see where that leads this country! ‘Stupid is as stupid does’ and why libs are incapable of learning basic economics is a mystery none of us conservatives will ever understand….

  5. Jay Levenberg,Esq. says

    Oh well, why don’t we just bury our heads in the sand another 20 years and pretend there is nothing wrong with Social Security. Such a mentality is why entitlements have reached the point of no return leaving the budget no room to grow and pay for other necessary programs. I love the solutions of taxing the “rich people.” If you taxed everyone’s income above 250,000 at 70% you would hardly make a dent in the deficit as we are only talking about 2% of the US population. The whole argument is specious. The rate of growth of entitlements must be cut. It is the only way to save the program. Raising the retirement age is a very acceptable price to pay to keep the program solvent. I can see no reason to oppose this measure. How long do you think the American people are going to buy the line that the Republicans are going to do away with your social security. Everyone knows that current beneficiaries will not be affected except for possibly a slight change in how the inflation aspects of the program are determined. No one will get a cut in benefits. We Democrats better get into the program soon or we will lose even more seats in the House in the next election. It is our party that will become the party of no if this continues and the other party will be seen as responsible and willing to make difficult choices to help everyone. It’s what our party used to do well.

  6. Luke Easter says

    COLA (Cost Of Living Adjustment) Is Nada

    Does this refer to an ice cold red, white & blue can? Nope!
    How about Bill Cosby’s favorite soft drink, good old Coke?
    Neither, as COLA refers to something dealing with money,
    By no means is it sweet & delicious as queen bee’s honey.

    Cost Of Living Adjustments was adopted by U.S. Congress,
    In 1970, setting the standard so no one would have to guess,
    Where consumer prices are lower than they were 2 years ago,
    So a fruitful sip of much needed COLA, Uncle Sam says No.

    Almost 59 million retired and disabled Americans are to do,
    Minus an increase unless the SSA pushes for something new,
    Like a one time $250.00 payment to recipients, wow big deal,
    Representatives can spend more than that on an evening meal.

    It will face opposition from the Senate if passed by the House,
    While many senior citizens munch on trash left by the mouse,
    All of the best garbage has already been consumed by the rat,
    Every rodent in New York City is plump, juicy & grotesquely fat.

    Politicians are worried only because this is an election year,
    And more than anything it is the voter’s wrath that they fear,
    Not their welfare, safety, health or any more important facts,
    The candidates want to get on Capital Hill, sit back & relax.

    Isn’t it amazing the Washington elite will not miss a raise,
    When they only do any really work three out of seven days,
    Many will spend more time on the golf course or the club,
    As retirees see light from a candle unable to buy a bulb.

    Produce is higher since truckers pay more to fill up rigs,
    Seniors keep warm in winter months burning dried twigs,
    Okay, why don’t they fill the fireplace with stacks of wood,
    Well, most are unable to buy logs so that idea is no good.

    As superstar athletes & owners cry foul on contract greed,
    Elderly & disabled are unable to meet basic human needs,
    Billion dollar banks and brokerages were bailed out why?
    Multi-million $ paydays reward failure, now that’s real SSI.

    America the Beautiful, capitalism unlimited, military elite,
    Fraudulent mortgage foreclosures, thousands on the street,
    Damage & destruction on par with the deadly virus Ebola,
    And all they ever desired in life is a decent glass of COLA.

  7. Mad Jayhawk says

    So the problems can be solved by raising taxes on the rich. Good luck with that. Any tax increase has extremely negative consequences. Many of the tweaks proposed by the commission were just tax increases. More revenue is generated by more economic activity. You do not get more economic activity by taking money out of people’s pockets and giving it to the government to redistribute to favored groups of constituents. Raising taxes takes money out of the people’s pockets so that they cannot spend it or invest it.

    If you hate the rich just elect enough Democrats so that they can take all their money and assets and be done with it or quit the class warfare rhetoric. Most people in this country have better things to worry about than whether someone has a nicer house than they do.

    The tax cuts had a tremendous impact on our economy. It was all unfunded entitlements that were passed after the tax cuts were in place that put a major strain on the economy. The economy grew all the way through 2008-9 after the tax cuts were enacted. Everything would be fine today if Congress had not repealed the Glass-Steagall Act in 1999.

    Our country is bankrupt. The administration is using its only trick left in the bag to handle the out-of-control spending this administration and congress have unleashed – printing money. Our allies are now all mad as hell and they won’t take it much longer. There is going to be a currency war and we will all be waiting for Obama to blame it all on Bush as usual and not do anything about it. We will see rampant inflation that will devastate the poor and the senior citizens in our society. The government needs to cut back on spending and do it soon. It has to make some hard decisions and just do it. The current Democrats and the President do not have the political guts to do it so if we can hold out until 2012 when we will elect Democrats and Republicans who will fix the problems. If we don’t this country is going down a dark road in its history.

    • pigdog67 says

      The reason our country is bankrupt is that over a period of 50 years it took money out of social security and used it to pay for useless military adventures. In todays dollars that adds up to 50 Trillion of waste. The rich in this country think it is there playground. Are you aware that over those 50 years people were paying into social security. What we need in this country is a revolution. That means taking a corrupt congress out and executing it. Why were they not prosecuted and executed for war crimes over the illegal invasion of Iraq. We need the Nuremburg trials again.

  8. Annette says

    GoBama! Hope and Change! We sure got suckered with this guy. Let’s see if he fights for Social Security the way he fought for the public option and universal health care. Oh wait, that’s right, he made a secret deal with the insurance industry to kill the public option and force us to buy their crappy expensive insurance while telling us months later that he would never sign a universal health care bill without safeguards like the public option. Then again, maybe he told the truth since he never signed a universal health care bill, he signed a universal health INSURANCE bill instead. But most progressives haven’t realized yet how badly we’ve been screwed. Obama gets to go down in history as the Prez who finally gave us UHC, while we get higher insurance premiums and a new expensive entitlement for the deliberately impoverished to claim.

    Simple solution to the government’s newest attack on working Americans – take away Congress’ cushy retirement package and make them participate in Social Security instead. Then maybe they’d stop trying to cheat us out the social security insurance we’ve paid into our entire lives. Probably Obama the great convincer will simply tell us that this Change is actually good for us, and most of his followers will nod their heads and go back to their video games.

    And that’s the crux of the problem – liberals still believe Obama’s on our side and will enact policies that help us. Meanwhile the Prez and most of our Dems are actively creating wealth redistribution schemes that will destroy the middle class.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *