FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
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 , 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 , “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 .
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.