Today, Wednesday, March 2, 2011, employees of the Social Security Administration will picket in front of 75 field offices across the country. They will be protesting the $1.7 billion that the Republican-controlled House of Representatives wants to cut from SSA’s $11.4 billion administrative budget for the rest of FY 2011.
They will be joined by members of the Strengthen Social Security Campaign, the Alliance for Retired Americans, and the National Committee to Preserve Social Security. and other groups.
Yesterday, the House approved another continuing resolution (CR) that would keep the Federal government running through March 18. The Senate will vote on it at 11:00 AM (EST) today, and is expected to pass it. This CR will cut $4 billion in spending from the federal budget this fiscal year. This $4 billion is based on cuts that President Obama had targeted for fiscal 2011, and would not touch the Social Security Administration. The $1.7 billion cut to Social Security is contained in the overall FY 2011 budget bill, which is pending in the Senate This CR gives the Senate two extra weeks to work out a compromise with House Republicans.
The Federal employee union which represents SSA, the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) expects Republicans to be very aggressive in seeking more cuts to SSA’s budget in both FY 2011 and FY 2012, which begins in October, regardless of any compromises.
“We have hoped it will not happen, but we have no reason to believe it won’t,” said Dana Duggins, an official with AFGE’s National Council of Social Security Administration locals.
Social Security workers plan to hand out fliers today and carry signs that read “No furloughs” and “No budget cuts” during a staggered midday lunch period and to tell the public what they think would happen if the Republican plan, or a smaller version of it, were to be enacted: furloughs lasting from one to three weeks for the agency’s 70,000 workers and drastic cuts in service.
AFGE officials say that delivery of Social Security checks would take longer, claims for disability benefits would not be processed and phone lines would be clogged.
“Public service would be devastated,” Duggins said. Even if the House and Senate “split the difference” and enact fewer spending cuts, “you’re still looking at furlough days and less service.”
Federal workers have been targeted by Republican lawmakers and the White House as both seek to reduce the deficit by reorganizing and reducing government. President Obama announced a five-year freeze on some non-security spending and a major reorganization of government in his State of the Union speech in January, after signing a two-year pay freeze late last year.
AFGE has responded with radio spots, an organizing blitz, and mail campaigns to members of Congress.
I will write more on this subject this evening, when the results are in. I am in complete solidarity with these employees.
It is long past time for the majority to show the minority that greed does not rule the world, and that the corporatists and the rich do not own our government, even though they think they do.