Urge Democratic Women House Members to Sign Letter:
By now, you've probably heard about the insulting remarks made by former Wyoming Senator Alan Simpson (R), co-chair of the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, describing Social Security as a "milk cow with 310 million tits."
Last month NOW called on President Obama to relieve Simpson of his duties on the commission, while a number of Congress members called for him to resign or be fired. However, the president has yet to ask Simpson to step down. Now, Rep. Lynn Woolsey (D-Calif.) and Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) are circulating a letter asking the president to remove Simpson from the commission. They aim to get every Democratic woman member of the House to sign this letter.
Take Action NOW: If your House member is a woman Democrat, please call her or use NOW's sample message to urge her to sign on to the Woolsey/DeLauro letter.
Simpson Unfit for Job - Former Wyoming Senator Alan Simpson, who is a longtime opponent of Social Security, touched off a firestorm recently with comments made in an email to Ashley Carson, then Executive Director of OWL, the Older Women's League. Simpson's foul-mouthed insults showed that he is an intemperate and biased individual who should not be in a position of responsibility. Simpson has an extensive history of disrespect and even contempt for women and seniors, notably with his statement posed to Anita Hill during the 1991 Clarence Thomas confirmation hearings that she would face "real discrimination, different from the sexual kind" in Washington if she testified regarding claims of sexual harassment from Thomas.
In his recent emailed comments to Carson at OWL, Simpson expressed a belief that advocating for women is not "honest work." Simpson has also described seniors as "greedy geezers" who "don't care a whit about their grandchildren, not a whit." Simpson also alienated veterans by claiming that costs for their disability care contribute to our fiscal mess.
Misunderstands Social Security - As NOW noted in our Aug. 25 alert, Simpson wrote Carson: "I've spent many years in public life trying to stabilize [Social Security] while people like you babble into the vapors about 'disgusting attempts at ageism and sexism' and all the rest of that crap." Further remarks on the PBS NewsHour shortly after being appointed to the commission revealed Simpson's intent to cut benefits when he stated: "You have two choices…you either raise the payroll tax or decrease the benefits or start affluence testing. The rest of it is B.S….This country is going to the bowwows unless we deal with entitlements, Social Security and Medicare." Simpson shows that he does not understand even the basic facts about Social Security.
Social Security Unrelated to National Debt - That Social Security has nothing to do with the federal debt is clear -- but apparently Simpson doesn't know that. Social Security is funded through a direct payroll deduction and does not contribute one penny to the national deficit. In fact, as has been reported, Simpson expressed surprise upon hearing that Social Security currently has a $2.5 trillion surplus and has enough funds to pay all benefits through 2037.
Without Social Security, 42.5 Percent of Elderly Would be Poor - Another set of facts apparently lost on Simpson is that Social Security lifts more than 20 million persons above the poverty line; a third of those are under age 65, including 1.1 million children. Fifty-eight percent of Social Security recipients age 62 and older are women; for half that number Social Security is 50 percent of their income. For many millions of older women who have no pensions and have exhausted their savings, Social Security is their only source of income. Cutting benefits, including increasing the retirement age to 70, would have a disproportionately harsh impact on older women. NOW vigorously opposes this.
Simpson Must Go; Commission Should Re-Assess Mission - Members of Congress -- like Reps. Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.), Jerold Nadler (D-N.Y.), Woolsey and DeLauro -- along with advocates for seniors and veterans, have called for Simpson's resignation. The AARP also urged Simpson's removal, saying that he has lost the credibility needed to head this commission. The former senator did apologize to Ashley Carson for his hot-headed remarks, but that is not enough. Simpson must go, and the fiscal commission should undertake a thorough re-assessment of its mission and future recommendations on how to reduce the national debt. Cutting benefits under Social Security should, in no case, be part of those recommendations.
Take Action NOW: Please help by sending a message to all Democratic women members of the House to sign the Woolsey/DeLauro "Dear Colleague" letter to President Obama. This letter asks him to remove Alan Simpson from the fiscal commission and further advocates against any cuts in Social Security benefits, including raising the retirement age to 70.