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This statement will be sent to

 

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid,
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi,
all members of the Senate and House,
and President Barack Obama (and key Administration officials)

Dear:

We write with strong opposition to the proposal of Senators Kent Conrad, Judd Gregg and others to create a deficit-reduction commission that would override the normal legislative process and replace it with expedited procedures prohibiting amendments and limiting debate.  We write with an increasing sense of urgency, because plans to vote on the Conrad-Gregg proposal on January 20th or soon thereafter, as part of the debt ceiling bill.  If the Conrad-Gregg proposal were to become law, it could dramatically change by stealth critical benefits and services so vital to America’s families.

Those supporting this circumvention of the normal process have stated openly the desire to avoid political accountability.  Americans-seniors, women, working families, people with disabilities, youth, young adults, children, people of color, veterans, communities of faith and others-expect their elected representatives to be responsible and accountable for shaping such significant, far-reaching legislation.

Any deficit reduction measures should be carried out in a responsible manner, providing a fairer tax system and strengthening-rather than slashing-Social Security and Medicare.   We should be strengthening, not slashing, vital programs like Medicaid, Unemployment Compensation, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (food stamps), EITC, Supplemental Security Income, school meals, Early Head Start, Head Start, Child Care Development Fund, Chafee Foster Care Independence Program, National Family Caregivers Support Program,  Individual Disability Education Act, vocational rehabilitation  and other programs and services crucial to struggling lower income and middle-income people  in every corner of our country.  

And as unemployment continues to grow, we need a real debate about how to balance the need for economic recovery and productive public investment with the goal of long-term budget responsibility. The American people are likely to view any kind of expedited procedure, where most members are sidelined to a single take-it-or-leave-it vote, as a hidden process aimed at eviscerating vital programs and productive investment.

As you know, the current effort to reform the health care sector seeks to achieve reductions in Medicare spending, without cutting benefits. But the proposed budget commission-which will be viewed as a way to actually cut Medicare benefits, while insulating lawmakers from political fallout-could confuse people and undermine the reform effort. And an American public that only recently rejected privatization of Social Security will undoubtedly be suspicious of a process that shuts them out of all decisions regarding the future of a retirement system that's served them well in the current financial crisis.

We urge you to act decisively to prevent the creation of such an extraordinary and undemocratic budget commission.

 

Sincerely,

Groups who have already agreed to sign:

National Organizations

AFL-CIO - American Federation of Labor - Congress of Industrial Organizations

AFSCME - American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees

Alliance for Retired Americans

American Association of People with Disabilities

American Association of University Women

Americans for Democratic Action

American Society on Aging

Campaign for America's Future

Change to Win

Center for Medicare Advocacy

Common Cause

Demos

Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund

Food Research and Action Center

Frances Perkins Center

Global Policy Solutions

Health & Medicine Policy Research Group

International Union, United Automobile, Aerospace & Agricultural

LGBT Caucus of the American Academy of Physician Assistants, Inc.

MoveOn.org Political Action

NAACP

National Asian Pacific Center on Aging

National Association of Area Agencies on Aging

National Association for Hispanic Elderly

National Association of Mothers' Centers and Its MOTHERS Initiative

National Caucus and Center on Black Aged, Inc.

National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare

National Council of Women's Organizations

National Organization for Women

National Hispanic Council on Aging

National Indian Council on Aging

National Senior Citizens Law Center

National Women's Law Center

OWL - The Voice of Midlife and Older Women

OpenLeft.com

Pathways PA

Pension Rights Center

People for the American Way

Progressive Democrats of America

SEIU - Service Employees International Union

United Methodist General Board of Church & Society

U.S. Action

Voices for America's Children

Wider Opportunities for Women

Women's Institute for a Secure Retirement

The Women's Research and Education Institute

State and Local Organizations

AFGE Council 220

AFGE Local 3937, AFL-CIO

California Alliance for Retired Americans

Coalition of Wisconsin Aging Groups

DelcoAction Seniors

NY Statewide Senior Action Council

Pennsylvania Alliance for Retired Americans

Puget Sound Alliance for Retired Americans


Here is some background reporting:

Panel to look into bipartisan debt-reduction commissions
By Humberto Sanchez CongressDaily November 10, 2009

Sens. squeeze Speaker over commission
By Jared Allen and Walter Alarkon -  The Hill 11/10/09

 

Note: Some of the bloggers have started working on this, but much more is needed.

http://www.ourfuture.org/blog-entry/2009114613/its-baack-catfood-commission

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2009/11/12/13839/263

http://www.calitics.com/diary/10464/will-pelosi-call-difis-reckless-bluff

http://www.openleft.com/diary/15970/bayh-conrad-feinstein-lieberman-and-warner-form-national-suicide-pact

http://www.pensionrights.org/news/perspectives/2009/11/senatorskeep-your-hands-off-social-security/

 
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