FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact:
Katie Robbins, National Organizer, Healthcare NOW!, katie@healthcare-now.org, 330-618-6379
Kay Tillow, All Unions for Single-Payer Health Care, nursenpo@aol.com, 502-636-1551

Not Just Simpson, but Entire Deficit Commission Must Go

September 8, 2010 (Philadelphia, PA) – After months of meetings behind closed doors, the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, aka the Deficit Commission, has captured national attention with comments from co-chair Alan Simpson comparing Social Security to a milk cow with 310 million tits [1], implying that the entire nation is milking this system. Advocacy groups including seniors, women, and veterans, outraged at Simpson’s clear contempt for one of the nation’s most important social insurance programs, have called for Simpson to step down from his seat.

Healthcare-NOW!, an advocacy group that stands for the right to health care and an improved Medicare for All system, calls for the disbanding of the entire Commission due to the evidence that it is not competent to address the nation’s deficit or strengthen social insurance programs. Earlier this year, Congress rejected the president’s call for such a commission. President Obama proceeded to establish by Executive Order this Commission, and has packed it with persons who have stated their readiness to suggest cuts or privatization of social insurance programs to a lame-duck Congress for an up-or-down vote.

In at least one public hearing the Commission has held since its formation, they received an outpouring of testimony that cuts to Social Security and Medicare will not reduce the deficit, but will do grievous injury to seniors, women, people with disabilities, and others who depend on these programs as a vital source of income. In addition, groups pointed out that the crisis around Social Security is phony. The trust fund is completely solvent until 2037, and tweaks can be made to the program that will strengthen it for years to come without cutting benefits now.

Simpson’s counterpart on the Commission, Erskine Bowles, thinks the government is spending way too much, claiming “All of our revenue is completely consumed by entitlements.” Bowles told a meeting of North Carolina bankers in March [2], “we’re going to mess with Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security.”

In addition to the co-chairs, commission member and CEO of Honeywell, David Cote, wants to end retiree health benefits and raise out of pocket costs for workers to an annual $8,500 at his plant in Metropolis, Illinois. When workers objected, pointing to the massive health dangers they face in making uranium hexafluoride, Honeywell’s response was to lock them out. Cote’s total insensitivity to the health care needs of these workers shows he should not be entrusted to make decisions on Medicare and Medicaid [3].

Healthcare-NOW!. a national membership organization of advocates for a single-payer national health care system, or improved Medicare for All, sent an email action alert to their membership to point out the inability for members of the commission to separate the strengthening of social insurance programs from the deficit problems, and to call on President Obama to disband the Commission immediately.

“Implementing a single-payer, improved Medicare for all system would be a long-term deficit reduction plan that deserves attention from anybody giving serious consideration to the nation’s economic woes. Given that the Commission now sitting has been unwilling to put all deficit reduction solutions on the table, they have not met the charge given them by the President,” states Donna Smith, Legislative Advocate for National Nurses United.

Instead of cuts to social insurance programs, Healthcare-NOW! advocates for a single-payer system that will provide universal health care and implement real cost controls that the current health care system doesn’t allow such as negotiating prices for pharmaceuticals and medical equipment, global budgeting for hospitals, and the elimination of the wasteful practices of the private insurance industry.

“The best thing to come from this Commission is no recommendation at all. Discussion of how to strengthen our social insurance programs does not belong on the Deficit Commission’s agenda. This Commission must go,” states Kay Tillow, Healthcare-NOW! board member and Coordinator for All Unions Committee for Single-Payer HR 676.

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[1] http://tpmdc.talkingpointsmemo.com/2010/08/meet-the-16-men-and-two-women-who-could-determine-the-fate-of-social-security.php

[2] http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=newsarchive&sid=aGIN8ZpPJxlE%20

[3] http://www.handsoffourmedicare.org/honeywell-locks-out-workers-over-healthcare/

7 Comments

  1. Jeff on September 20, 2010 at 3:49 pm

    When you look at how much money goes to the infrastructure and other programs, you will see it is a very small amount compared to the money going to the military industrial complex. We spend more money on military then the rest of the world does put together.
    The only reason why they want to cut spending on social and infrastructure is so that even more money will be freed up to give to Haliburton and Brown & Root and Black Water (XE).
    I think it is about time to cut money on programs that are design to kill people and spend money on programs that are design to improve people’s lives and save them.



  2. MELVA JACKMAN on September 20, 2010 at 4:01 pm

    LET’S START WITH SIMPSON and move on from there. The Deficit Commission should not be entertaining Social security as a deficit problem. Social Security can easily pay for itself by increasing the income cut-off level. Why not continue to pay into Social Security up to $ 1,000,000? I think that would be fair. Why cut those who need the most instead of taxing those who have the most?



  3. Lissa Wick on September 20, 2010 at 4:19 pm

    Absolutely. You have my support. and Thank you.



  4. Jan Howe on September 20, 2010 at 6:57 pm

    How insulting. Former Representative Alan Simpson has never had to provide health care for himself since he got elected. It came w/ the job and a fat retirement package. This is something some of us who never got when we worked and may not get ever in retirement if his commission gets their way. On what planet has this guy been living. Affordable health care coverage w/ a job or in retirement are as dead as the Dodo.
    Now Simpson badmouths some of us with inappropriate language for a man of his education and public position. But that slip let us all know the unspoken bias against the average person these high-flyers have. “I’ve got mine at the public trough, now go get yours…in hindsight.”
    Where were he and Mr.Bowles when the unfunded wars in Afghanistan and Iraq wasted billions of tax dollar? Contracts were let out to bid, cash disappeared, cost overruns happened, and somebody else got rich. Not the US.
    War is not an entitlement, it is unplanned, wasteful of money, people, and hope. We act emotionally, plan for nothing, have no rainy day funds, and blame the wrong programs or decisions for our mistakes in judgement.
    Two wars got first dibs on much of the available cash in the Treasury. We borrowed to keep those wars going and the government functioning. We now know we shouldn’t have done both. We should have asked ourselves, can we afford a war when we need a list of other things done?
    Health and safety are the job of government. We have a right to them. That means a well-funded and staffed FDA to keep food and drugs clean and effective. It means fixing what is wrong w/ Medicare, but it doesn’t necessarily mean gutting Medicare, privatizing it, or erecting barriers to buy drugs or medical equipoment in bulk like the VA. It doesn’t mean letting people die because this special commission is more of a death panel than PPACA 2010 reform was ever accused of being.
    the President opened this can of worms by appointing this commission, and it could become the next nauil in the coffin of his re-election in 2012.



  5. Jim on September 21, 2010 at 12:21 am

    I agree, Social Security is easily fixable, and not negotiable for the chopping block. We the people are paying attention and are smarter than the politicians think. And, we have pitchforks!



  6. Pat on September 21, 2010 at 11:38 am

    “Social Security is easily fixable”.

    Why is a “fix” even necessary? Congress easily siphoned off our mandated SS trust fund to finance war and tax breaks for the wealthy. Now the only solution they will consider is to cut benefits since they claim that the piggy bank is empty.

    Where is our anger? If tax breaks for the wealthy are allowed to expire, the wealthy will actually pay more in taxes. SS withholding taxes affect current wages only. If the fund is rebuilt by an increase in withholding taxes while keeping ceilings for the top earners intact, any increase will mean that the wealthy will not pay a penny more.



  7. - bill on September 21, 2010 at 2:18 pm

    The trust fund does not need to be ‘rebuilt’: every penny of it still exists in the form of Treasury bonds virtually identical to those held by Americans, the Chinese, and all the other entities who have lent money to our government.

    These bonds were issued to borrow the extra money we all paid into Social Security for the past quarter century, specifically so that benefits for the elder population bump we’re starting to experience would be fully funded. And they will be as long as the government pays back what it has borrowed from Social Security (as it is obligated to do).

    The deficit hawks would like to see SS benefits cut so that paying the money back is not necessary – i.e., effectively steal what they previously only claimed to be borrowing. This would not affect the national debt by one penny (the money will still be owed), nor annual deficits as defined by law, but it WOULD affect the commonly-reported deficit figures that lump Social Security in with the rest of the budget (even though this has not been legal to do since 1990).

    Medicare’s situation is similar, though not identical. In other words, this is all smoke and mirrors perpetrated by those whose agenda is not deficit-related at all, but rather to kill government social programs in general (even completely revenue-neutral ones like SS and largely revenue-neutral ones like Medicare).