SAN FRANCISCO -- About a dozen protestors gathered in front of San Francisco's Federal Building on Thursday to deliver a petition to Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), urging the House Minority Leader to oppose cuts to Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security.
"I'm here to ask Rep. Pelosi to really consider how these cuts would hurt the very people that voted for her," said Stefanie Faucher, a 33-year-old communications specialist with MoveOn.org. "There are other ways to improve Social Security and to make it more solvent and to address the budget deficit."
The petition, authored by Clinton administration labor secretary Robert Reich and circulated by MoveOn.org, gathered more than 300,000 signatures in less than two weeks.
"People have worked hard all their lives and this is not an area that should be cut," said San Francisco resident Cornelius Moore, 58. "It's totally unnecessary. I don't support cuts in any sort of social program, especially at a time when people are struggling and taxes are going up. People need these."
Moore, who is a member of the liberal political group Progressive Change Campaign Committee, recounted how he and other activists visited Pelosi's office last week to ask if she would sign a letter drafted by Reps. Alan Grayson (D-Fla.) and Mark Takano (D-Calif.) vowing not to cut social safety net programs.
"We were here last week and were told by a staffer, 'You're preaching to the choir, we'll support Social Security,'" Moore said. "But when asked if they'll sign the letter, they said they … were thinking about it. It's a week later and now that they've had a chance to think about it, we're here to see where they are now. "
A representative from Pelosi's office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Thursday's protest was part of a coordinated campaign at the district offices of legislators across the country. The activity was largely triggered by President Barack Obama's budget proposal to index future Social Security benefits to a chained CPI, a measure of inflation that would reduce benefits.
Pelosi has offered tentative support to the president's chained CPI plan, but to ensure the stability of the program and not to reduce the deficit.
"I myself believe that whatever we talk about in terms of prolonging [the] life of Social Security should be considered in its own place," Pelosi said during a press conference earlier this month. "Whatever we're doing, it's about extending the life and the strength of Social Security. It's not about balancing the budget."
While Obama proposed the Social Security cut as a compromise gesture toward Republicans, who have long warned of Social Security's eventual insolvency, it has inflamed liberals who view it as a direct assault on one of the most successful government programs in history.
Social Security is "a program that we as Americans have invested in for a long time," said Faucher. "We've paid into it and those benefits should be there when we retire. So many people count on Social Security, and we know that chained CPI could result in cuts for seniors that, in some cases, would be the equivalent of three months of food. That's just unacceptable."