Phoebe Snow and Linda Ronstadt:
WASHINGTON, D.C.— Following yesterday’s release of a budget proposal that would dismantle Medicare and leave the door open for raising the retirement age on Social Security to age 69 or higher, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) held a news conference call today to outline new legislation he is introducing that would require Members of Congress to “walk in the same shoes” as working Americans.
Brown’s bill, the Shared Retirement Sacrifice Act of 2011, would amend the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS) and Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) to directly tie the Social Security retirement age to current and future Members of Congress’ access to their federal retirement benefits. On the call, Brown released a county-by-county estimate showing the number of Ohio senior citizens that receive Social Security benefits.
“Raising the Social Security retirement age might sound fair to politicians who come to work every day in a suit and tie, but it’s a nonstarter for working Ohioans who stand on their feet all day long in a restaurant or on a factory floor,” Brown said. “Social Security is under attack by those who falsely think it adds to the federal deficit. These same politicians want to give extra tax cuts to the wealthiest two percent of Americans and tax breaks for big corporations and Big Oil while dismantling Medicare. It’s time for Washington politicians to make the same sacrifices that they’re proposing for millions of Americans.”
“That’s why I’m introducing legislation that would require Members of Congress to ‘walk in the same shoes’ as working Americans by tying their pension and retirement benefits to the Social Security retirement age. If these politicians want to ask Americans to continue working into their late 60s and early 70s before receiving critical retirement benefits, there’s no reason why they shouldn’t have to make the same sacrifices as well,” Brown continued.
Currently, Members of Congress can begin collecting pensions as early as age 50, while working Americans cannot collect full Social Security benefits until age 66. According to the Congressional Research Service (CRS), retirement with an immediate, full pension is available to Members of Congress covered under FERS at age 62 or older with at least five years of federal service; at age 50 or older with at least 20 years of service; and at any age to Members with at least 25 years of service. For Members covered by CSRS, retirement with an immediate, full pension is available to Members age 60 or older with 10 years of service in Congress, or age 62 with five years of civilian federal service, including service in Congress.
So I read this piece yesterday in which Digby discussed the notion that Rep. Paul Ryan’s Crazy Roadmap to the Future is part of a larger design to make the Catfood Commission recommendations look reasonable:
If I were a conspiracy type, I might even think the catfood salesmen on the commission cooked this whole thing up sometime last December when it was obvious that the liberals weren’t going to sign on. But I’m not a conspiracy type so I’d imagine that this is just something they all fortuitously and individually stumbled into on their way to a big donor meeting. There doesn’t have to be a conspiracy — it’s just part of the culture. Look at how the Village greeted Ryan today. Cleopatra would be jealous.
Digby might think that’s crazy talk, but I don’t. That’s why I posed that question to Nancy Pelosi on a blogger conference call she held today on the budget. I said that some of us were concerned that the administration was going to use the Ryan budget to make the deficit commission proposals look reasonable, and asked if she’d speak to that.
The response I got wasn’t all that reassuring.
“If you subtract Social Security from it, [their proposals] to make it more solvent, that doesn’t belong in any discussion about cutting the deficit,” she said. “They shouldn’t include policy decisions about social security. They don’t belong on the same table.”
Once you subtract the Social Security proposals, “there are some good things in the deficit commission report.”
She pointed out their recommendations include a “very big cut in defense” and in revenue earmarks. “There are features that are very good, not the full package,” she said.
Then she said “ninety percent of our focus has to be putting the spotlight on the bad things in their budget.”
I got the distinct impression I was being deflected.
I won’t argue about the “good things” Leader Pelosi says are left in the deficit commission chairmans proposal after we remove the cuts to Social Security.
There are, indeed, what appears to be some good, practical proposals. But Republicans aren’t going to vote for the sensible ideas on their merits. They’ll hold them hostage until they also get their wacky right-wing proposals adopted.
And let’s face it: The Democrats will give it to them.
And can we drop the political game pieces and get back to reality? Republicans don’t care about the deficit. Repeat after me: Republicans don’t care about the deficit. Did you hear a peep out of them during the Bush years? Of course not. Because Republicans don’t care about the deficit.
This is the same game they’ve been playing for decades. It’s just that this time, they’ve got the Democrats running the ball for them.
“I can’t wait for the blood bath in April,” said Alan Simpson at a Christian Science Monitor breakfast roundtable with reporters this morning. “It won’t matter whether two of us have signed this or 14 or 18. When debt limit time comes, they’re going to look around and say, ‘What in the hell do we do now? We’ve got guys who will not approve the debt limit extension unless we give ‘em a piece of meat, real meat, off of this package.’ And boy the bloodbath will be extraordinary.”