20 July 2011


$400,000 ~ salary of the U.S. president.

$180,000 ~ salary of retired U.S. presidents.

$223,000 ~ salary of the Speaker of the House of Representatives.

$193,400 ~ salary of Congressional majority/minority leaders.

$174,000 ~ salary of House/Senate members.

$ 13,000 ~ my annual Social Security disability benefit.

Does anyone besides me see a disparity here? And yet, and yet, and yet, the most recent deficit reduction plan, the so-called Gang of Six Plan, would reduce Social Security benefits by $1300 per year. Yes, these highly-paid "public servants" who not only make a fortune off our taxes, but make even more from paid public appearances and gifts from lobbyists, want me to sacrifice 10 percent of my income, while requiring NO sacrifice from the wealthy or from corporations. I'm reminded of a line from Lewis B. Puller, Jr.'s autobiography Fortunate Son ~ "I thought wryly of the differing degrees of sacrifices demanded of a pig and a chicken when forced to contribute to a breakfast of ham and eggs." There seems to be an inordinate number of wealthy chickens making legislative and fiscal decisions which impact the pig population.

Here's the supreme irony ~ Social Security is already solvent until 2037 and does not contribute to the deficit. Why in the name of sanity is Social Security even in this conversation?

According to the Economic Policy Institute, Social Security provides the majority of income for three-fifths of Americans age 65+. "The average Social Security retirement benefit in 2009 was $13,406.40, slightly above the $10,289 federal poverty line for individuals age 65 and older, and less than the minimum wage .... Originally designed to complement savings and retirement income, Social Security has instead become the primary source of income among this group (see graph below, click to enlarge) .... Social Security benefits are not a windfall, but a lifeline. With benefits so modest, Congress should be focused on raising them, not cutting them by reducing the cost-of-living adjustment or raising the retirement age."

Not to mention by decapitating existing benefits under the transparent guise of deficit reduction. The sheer, galling hypocrisy of heaping more financial burden on those who can least afford it, while righteously protecting the assets of the wealthiest 5 percent of our population, calls for immediate and emphatic reform, including the recall of those legislators who would suck the life blood from those who survive on meager Social Security benefits -- benefits which we ourselves earned by contributing from our paychecks over the course of our lifetimes. This issue is not negotiable.

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