Today is the first meeting of the President's National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform. Some of us have been paying very close attention to the discourse leading up to this momentous occasion. For example, Alan K. Simpson, one of the co-chairs insists that the solution to fixing America's deficit is to target Social Security.
Over and over again, he states that the Gray Panthers and the Pink Panthers are the only people who are making noise about not cutting Social Security benefits. Well, I have some news for Mr. Simpson - there is no group called the Pink Panthers working to protect Social Security. Is this some disgusting attempt at ageism and sexism in one cutesy alliterative quip? Not surprising given his record of sexism (i.e., Justice Thomas' confirmation hearings) and his constant bashing of seniors (ever hear the term "greedy geezers"? We can thank Simpson for that).Here are the facts:
- The average Social Security beneficiary in America receives $13,900 annually.
- The average for older women receives approximately $11,000 each year.
- If the Commission decides to cut these benefits, older adults, widows, children who have lost their parents and people with disabilities will suffer.
Mr. Simpson continues to paint the picture that everyone receiving Social Security benefits is living the high life - driving luxury cars, dining out and living in gated communities. If this is true, can someone please tell me where it is that I can retire in the United States where I can buy my Lexus, make house payments and never have to cook at home again on my $11,000?
Perhaps Simpson is confused, maybe because he lives the high life, he believes all older adults live like he does. If he doesn't need his Social Security check, then perhaps he should donate the money to a homeless shelter, because that's where many older single women will live if he reduces their benefits.
The statistics on poverty for seniors are alarming. The most shocking of all is that almost one quarter of older African American women live in poverty and that 45% of older women living alone are poor. This means that each of these people lives on less than $10,400 annually. Look at the numbers again. There's a good chance any of us could be part of those numbers later in life.
The President's Commission co-chairs need to focus on what got us into this mess, and then come up with solutions to help America get back on track. Social Security doesn't contribute to the problem, and in fact runs an enormous surplus. First on the agenda should be defense spending and second should be the Bush era tax cuts - the leading contributors to the deficit. Please let grandma keep her $900 a month; after all, she earned it. www.socialsecuritymatters.org