23 April 2010

Alliance For Retired Americans Fights Closed Door Meetings On Entitlements

Alliance for Retired Americans Fights for Open Government:
Fiscal Commission Holds Its First Meeting
  Two important summit meetings will be held in Washington next week to discuss ways of reducing the federal deficit. The first will be President Obama's National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, which holds its first meeting on Tuesday, April 27.  In advance of the meeting, the Alliance for Retired Americans sent a letter on Thursday to Bruce Reed, Executive Director of the Commission. 

  The joint letter (from Barbara J. Easterling, President of the Alliance, Ruben Burks, Secretary-Treasurer of the Alliance, and Edward F. Coyle, the Alliance's Executive Director)stated that while retirees fully support President Obama on the critical need to reduce our nation's budget deficit, many have been troubled by statements by commission members suggesting that Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid will be a primary focus to meet deficit reduction goals. 

  The three Alliance leaders continued that they are "extremely disturbed by reports that the Commission chairs have decided to have committee meetings in three areas - tax reform, discretionary spending, and mandatory spending - held behind closed doors without public access, since this arrangement directly contradicts President Obama's commitment to an open, transparent government."  They offered the following recommendations on ways to ensure the American public's participation and engagement in this important national dialogue:
  • The Commission should conduct field hearings across the country to listen to the American
    public and specifically hear from individuals and representatives of those affected by potential
  • The Commission's planning meetings, working meetings, drafting sessions, public meetings, and all other sessions where Commission work is performed or planned should be open to the public and available to the public via C-SPAN coverage or internet streaming; and
  • The contact information for the Commission, its members and support staff should be made
    available for the public.

 "It is critically important that the process governing the work of the commission is highly inclusive and fully transparent to the American people," the three concluded.

Peterson Foundation to Meet on Wednesday
Seeks Social Security, Medicare Cuts

  Wall Street billionaire Pete Peterson will convene a fiscal summit through his Peter G. Peterson Foundation the next day.  According to The Huffington Post, Peterson, previously the CEO of the now belly-up Lehman Brothers and formerly the chair of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, underwrites the foundation with his own funds - "and his agenda is no secret."  He views the coming retirement of baby boomers as a threat to the economy and the federal budget.

  He seeks to use his billions to achieve aggressive cuts in Social Security and Medicare benefits, as well as the creation of a commission that would have legal authority to create a plan to reduce the deficit and then simply present it to Congress for an up or down vote, with no debates and no amendments.

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