March 30, 2011
Dear NOW Leaders,
We need your help: Social Security -- your retirement and disability insurance -- is in jeopardy. Women stand to lose, on average, nearly $300,000 in retirement income if right-wing proposals succeed.
Attacks on Social Security Intensify
Social Security is an incredibly important program for women -- the vast majority of older women and women with disabilities depend on Social Security for a significant share of their income. The average monthly income from Social Security is just under $1200. For many it is their only source of income. NOW is working to mobilize grassroots support for Social Security retirement, survivor and disability benefits -- income that is critical to women's economic security.
As you may know, Social Security is under intensive attacks from conservatives who want to convert the program to (often risky) private stock market accounts. As Tea Partiers and other ultra-conservatives have gained seats in Congress, their efforts have shifted into high gear; they want to slash the operating budget of the Social Security Administration in the House budget bill and are pushing hard for deep benefit cuts that will ultimately undermine the entire program.
Millions Spent on Ads and Lobbying
In addition, corporations and Wall Street billionaires like Peter G. Peterson are conducting a massive propaganda campaign to convince the public that Social Security is nearly bankrupt and that it contributes to the national debt. That's simply untrue -- and the public isn't buying it -- but inside-the-beltway pundits and media outlets have taken the bait. So the propagandists are encouraged and are continuing to spend tens of millions of dollars underwriting 'experts' who produce biased reports, making misleading statements to the press and, of course, generously financing conservative politicians' election campaigns.
Build Opposition in Senate
A strong outpouring of opposition from the grassroots in key states can stop them in their tracks. NOW leaders who know that we must protect -- and even improve upon -- Social Security can help out. Our best hope is to build a wall of opposition in the U.S. Senate by expanding a new group of senators calling themselves the "Defend Social Security Caucus" who will oppose legislation to weaken or end Social Security. In addition, we are hoping that all senators will back an amendment (S. AMDT 207), The Social Security Protection Act, sponsored by Sens. Harry Reid (D-NV) and Bernie Sanders (I-VT).
Senators Need to Hear from You
Key states -- and their senators -- where a strong grassroots presence can make a difference are: Sens. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, Bill Nelson of Florida, Tom Udall and Jeff Bingaman of New Mexico, Mark Udall and Michael Bennet of Colorado, Claire McCaskill of Missouri, Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, Mark Pryor of Arkansas, Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Mark Warner and Jim Webb of Virginia, Ron Wyden of Oregon and Ben Nelson of Nebraska. But, really, all senators need to hear from the grassroots -- most importantly, they need to hear from NOW leaders like you who understand what's at stake.
Social Security Should Not be On the Table
In addition, Democratic Sens. Mark Warner of Virginia, Dick Durbin of Illinois and Kent Conrad of North Dakota are part of a 'Gang of Six' spearheading deficit cutting and have said that cutting Social Security should "be on the table." (Although, recently it was reported that Sen. Durbin has backed off from his stance about cutting Social Security.)
Our message to these Senators is NO -- Social Security should NOT be on the table -- it has nothing to do with the federal deficit. Benefits should not be cut, either directly or by raising the retirement age to 69 or 70 (which is a deep benefit cut).
Please Help Us Organize
More than ever, grassroots activity is critically important on this issue and we are hoping that you and your chapter members can take action. We must lobby our members of Congress to show them that Social Security matters to women…and that women vote!
New Field Organizer at NOW
Thanks to timely grant funding, we have a full-time field organizer, Anita Lederer, a skilled organizer who will help you put together Social Security actions that will get attention, or plug you into actions that allied organization are already organizing in your community. Anita can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 202-628-8669, ext. 134.
Can we count on you to help inform and energize chapter activists in your community?
If you want to get involved in this effort, please contact Anita Lederer at email@example.com. And stay tuned -- we will be sending more information and posting activist materials (fact sheets, mythbusters, sample letters to the editor, etc.) on the chapter-leaders section of the NOW website soon.
||Thanks for all that you do for NOW,
Terry O'Neill, President
National Organization for Women