GOP Stacks Debt Panel with Foes of Retirement Security: The ‘Sock Our Seniors Six’
Alliance for Retired Americans President Barbara Easterling points out here that the Republican appointees to the debt commission have long voting records opposing retirement security.
Current and future retirees, alarmed by the extremist Republican members of Congress named to the newly created bipartisan commission to lower the federal budget deficit, have a name for this group: “Sock Our Seniors Six.”
These lawmakers repeatedly have voted to weaken Social Security and sell off Medicare to the big drug and insurance companies. They reflect the failed ideology that fueled George W. Bush’s and John McCain’s efforts to let Wall Street gamble away privatized Social Security on the roulette wheel of the stock market. One look at a recent 401(k) statement shows what dangerous folly that would have been.
The new panel members—Sens. Tom Coburn (Okla.), Mike Crapo (Idaho) and Judd Gregg (N.H.) and Reps. Dave Camp (Mich.), Jeb Hensarling (Texas) and Paul Ryan (Wis.)—have a combined 6.5 percent average lifetime rating voting record, according to the analyses by the Alliance for Retired Americans. Criteria include key congressional votes on Social Security, Medicare and other issues affecting retirement security.
The recent appointees call into sharp question the objectivity of this panel, particularly when combined with former Sen. Alan Simpson, who recently was named the panel’s co-chairman. Simpson has referred to older Americans as “greedy geezers,” and as a senator, he wanted to lower Social Security benefits by changing the statistical formula used to calculate Cost-of-Living Adjustments.
The commission must examine the full range of tax-and-spend policies that led to these large deficits. Since 1983, American workers have paid enough Social Security payroll taxes to accumulate a $2.5 trillion surplus in the Social Security Trust Fund. We hope the commission will accurately point out the reckless fiscal decisions that got us to this point, and also reaffirm that Social Security and Medicare are two of our nation’s greatest success stories and have helped generations of seniors stay healthy and out of poverty.
Last week’s developments are an inauspicious start to this new commission. It is a reminder that Americans need to keep a close eye on this panel and stay educated and active on these important issues.