Todays Protests Against Furloughs And Budget Cuts At Social Security

The employees, customers, and supporters of Social Security had their “National Day of Protest” against the Republican-controlled House of Representatives’ budget measure.  The measure would cut Social Security’s administrative budget for the remainder of FY 2011 by almost 15% from the FY 2010 amount, which was itself not enough to allow Social Security to meet its workload obligations to America’s disabled and retired, and to the millions of new beneficiaries who are now trying to apply for the benefits they are entitled to.

The American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE,) the Federal employee union that represents 60,000 Social Security workers, organized the picket lines  and demonstrations together with the Strengthen Social Security Campaign, the Alliance for Retired Americans, and the National Committee to Preserve Social Security, along with others.  There were demonstrations in front of 96 offices in 31 states.  The demonstrators included Social Security workers, members of AFGE, and the other groups mentioned above supporting Social Security in the face of Republican attacks against it

From the Redding.Com ‘The Record Searchlight’ article entitled ‘Pickets protest possible furloughs; Social Security workers could feel sting of budget cuts’.  Their customers would feel the sting too.

Protesters Outside SSA Office In Redding, CA

Protesters Outside SSA Office In Redding, CA

Redding, CAAbout 50 people in Redding braved stormy skies and grabbed picket signs Wednesday to protest possible furloughs for Social Security workers.  The protest’s co-organizer, Christine Mitchell, said that protesters were upset that House Republicans passed a budget that requires Social Security workers to be furloughed 23 days before Sept. 30.

“We’ve got baby boomers applying for benefits now that are going to be held up if these people are furloughed,” Mitchell said. “We’ve got people on disability who really need their benefits. Their claims will be held up. This is hurting a lot of people if they furlough them.”

Mitchell’s group, the Shasta County Citizens for Democracy, helped organize the protest along with members of AFGE.  She called on anyone concerned about the furloughs to contact federal lawmakers.

Matt Lavoie, a spokesman for Congressman Wally Herger, the Republican who represents the area, said the talk of furloughs amounted to “scare tactics.”  He added, “They’re, frankly, not dealing with the real facts.”

They are.  Matt Lavoie is the one who seems allergic to facts.

He said Democrats’ claim that Republicans cut some $1.7 billion from the Social Security Administration is “based on the President’s budget request from last year.”  That is at the very least a distortion, and perhaps an outright lie.  The actual FY 2010 budget amount for Social Security’s administrative expenses was $11.5 billion, down from $11.9 in FY 2010.  The continuing resolution that the entire government is running on through March 4th freezes spending at FY 2010 levels.  President Obama requested $12.5 billion for SSA for FY 2011, but the House Republicans ignored this.  What they did instead was to propose cutting Social Security’s administrative budget to $9.8 billion, $1.7 billion less than the FY 2010 budget itself.

Right after saying that, Lavoie said House Republicans’ 2011 budget plan would reduce the agency’s administrative budget by only 1 percent, a cut of $125 million.  That is a complete lie, but what can one expect from such a source.  Also, he can’t do math.  $125 million is only about 1/10 of 1%.

In case the name “Wally Herger” rings a bell, it should.  He made himself infamous during the “death panel” summer of 2009, when he hosted a town hall meeting in his district.  One of the speakers from the audience declared, to enthusiastic cheering, “I am a proud right wing terrorist.”

Congressman Herger praised the man’s attitude.  “Amen, God bless you,” Herger said with a broad smile. “There is a great American.”

From the Christian Science Monitor article entitled ‘Social Security workers protest possible funding cuts.’

McAllen, TX –  Horns honked on McColl Road on Wednesday as passing motorists cheered on protesters in front of the city’s Social Security Office. Waving signs that read “Kill the Bill” and “Closed Office=No Service,” a group of office employees and union representatives demonstrated against Federal budget cuts.

The Social Security workers who were picketing were protesting the FY 2011 budget proposal already passed by the Republican-controlled House of Representatives that would reduce Social Security administrative funding by $1.7 billion for fiscal year 2011.  The workers warned that such cuts could lead to a month of furloughs for employees.

“We’re out here to avoid shutdowns and to avoid the furloughs that are currently in the plans for all government agencies,” union representative Norma Peña said.

At the McAllen office in particular, protesters argued that their services benefit a large population.  “We are essential,” union representative Elvia Duarte said of the office. “We see 600 to 700 people per day.”

“We have a lot of elderly and disabled people here and those are the people we serve,” said Elma Snell, 74, a former employee of the office. “I’m a retiree, but I came out to support my co-workers and my friends.”

From the WILX News 10 TV article entitled, “Protests Over Proposed Cuts To Social Security.’

Protesters Outside An SSA Office In Lansing, MI

Protesters Outside An SSA Office In Lansing, MI / WILX News 10

Lansing, MILonger waiting time for Social Security benefits is an idea that worries many  people who receive those benefits and it could be on the way thanks for a budget [already passed by the Republican-controlled] House of Representatives.

It was only a few who gathered outside the Social Security office in South Lansing but their signs resisting furloughs said it all.

“I’m all for a solution but not one that will cause hardships for employees,” said Social Security administration employee Youlanda Clementin.

The group was protesting in opposition of a plan in Congress right now that would cut $1.7 billion from the administration’s $11.5 billion budget. This would mean layoffs or furloughs raning from 10 to 23 days.

“If employees are off without pay they will suffer but it’s also the service to the public,” said James Campana, an employee and an AFGE steward.

“If my check didn’t get here on time, I’m sorry, I live off that check. Where am I gonna go? I can’t work,” said Gearldine Yeager who drove down from Dansville just for the protest.

The Republican response was furnished by Congressman Mike Rogers.  He e-mailed News Ten his statement saying the one percent cut (the amount is a lie – it’s 15%) that could affect social security “would only impact the administrative budget with no impact on benefits. That’s true.  No one’s check will go down, but no one who was protesting was claiming that.  That is a “straw man” argument.  During this time of a record $1.6 trillion budget deficit, every program can find inefficiencies and waste without impacting services.”  He is lying, just like Congressman Herger’s spokesman, and it’s the same lie.  It is a 15% cut, not a 1% cut.   Also, whatever the cut is, it has nothing to do with the Federal budget deficit.  That’s just the current Republican Big Lie.

From the Newark Advocate article entitled ‘Local Social Security Administration workers protest cuts.’

Protesters Outside An SSA Office in Newark NJ

Holly Heim, center, protests outside the Social Security Administration building on Derby Downs Road with her mother, Linda Heim, left, and Dan Gonzalez, right, Wednesday in Newark. / Matthew Berry, The Advocate

Newark, NJ Local Social Security Administration employees joined a nationwide protest of possible federal cuts during their lunch hour on Wednesday, outside their Social Security office.

The proposed cut to Social Security administrative budget of $1.7 billion for the rest of the year, out of an overall $11.5 billion budget, could result in up to a month of furloughs for employees, causing the closure of many offices, Newark employee Dan Gonzalez said.

“People are going to suffer on this,” he said. “It’s really going to hurt.”

Social Security is not just for older, retired people, Gonzalez said, adding that people with disabilities at any age can be eligible for benefits.  “You can find somebody of every age that gets benefits,” he said.

An office closure would slow how quickly benefits are delivered and reduce the level of service constituents receive, Linda Heim said.  “There’s going to be no one to answer the phones,” she said.  Heim and her daughter stood outside the office with signs and fliers, trying to inform drivers passing by about the issue.

From the Springfield News Sun’s article entitled ‘Social security workers opposed to proposed cuts.’

Protesters Outside the Springfield IL SSA Office

Protest Outside a Springfield IL SSA Office / Photo by Bill Lackey.

Springfield IL“Please let me do my job. Don’t shut my office down,” read the sign of one of the protesters outside the local Social Security office Wednesday.

The Social Security Administration workers were protesting proposed federal budget cuts that would lead to a month of furloughs and office closures.

“(This) would affect our service delivery to the public,” said Marshall Gray, claims representative at the office and AFGE representative.

Gray said his union represents about 15 people in this office of roughly 25 in Springfield. According to AFGE, the office provides assistance to more than 52,930 people who receive more than $55,562,000 in monthly benefits.

“We feel if this were to happen, it would affect certainly people here in the local area and thousands nationwide,” he said.

This is just five of the 96 locations where these protests occurred.  I’m sure there will be more, as the Republicans continue their baseless assault against Social Security.  A rule to remember when considering the Republican Party’s attitude towards programs – they only support those whose beneficiaries primarily vote for them, such as the military industrial complex, the energy conglomerates, big business and big banks, and the very rich.  They oppose those programs whose beneficiaries they think generally don’t vote for them,such as Social Security, Medicare, Unemployment Insurance, Veterans benefits, education, and environmental protection.  Keep this in mind and you don’t even need to hear them speak. because you’ll know in advance what they’re going to say.

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