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The Fight to Save Social Security Begins Now

By       Message shamus cooke     Permalink
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With 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

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.
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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:
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"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

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Shamus Cooke is a social service worker, trade unionist, and writer for Workers Action (

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