Protests near (Social Security) and far (AIPAC)

Members of the California Alliance for Retired Americans, labor unions and other organizations will rally outside Oakland’s Paramount Theater tonight during an appearance by the co-chairs of President Obama’s National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform.

Alan Simpson, a former Republican U.S. Senator from Wyoming, and Erskine Bowles, who served as President Bill Clinton’s chief of staff, had proposed a mix of spending cuts and revenue increases that included raising Social Security’s early retirement age to 64 and the standard retirement age to 69; reducing benefits for the more affluent half of retirees; and raising the payroll tax that funds the program.

The commission’s final report, released in December 2010, failed to get the 14 votes (out of 18 members) needed for formally endorsement.

Tonight’s Paramount Theater event is part of a national speaking tour to promote the deficit reduction plan. But the groups protesting outside 7 to 8 p.m. note Social Security was on the commission’s chopping block even though it hasn’t contributed to the nation’s deficit; they want “a fair budget plan that doesn’t gut vital lifelines for seniors and the disabled.”

Elsewhere, five Bay Area activists traveled to Washington to help disrupt the American Israel Public Affairs Committee’s annual policy conference as part of an Occupy AIPAC effort. Rick Sterling of Walnut Crrek, Hassan Fouda of Kensington, Barbara Briggs-Letson of Sebastopol, Michael Kochowiec of Walnut Creek and Rae Abileah of San Francisco were among those who infiltrated the conference to protest potential military action against Iran.

UPDATE @ 10:37 A.M.: Another protest is brewing at 5 p.m. today as Israeli President Shimon Peres is scheduled to address a crowd at Temple Emanu-El on Lake Street in San Francisco (after an introduction by Gov. Jerry Brown). Organized by members of the International Jewish Anti Zionist Network and the Arab American Union Members Council, the protestors aim to call attention to Israel’s possession of nuclear weapons, its 1996 invasion of Lebanon and its treatment of Palestinians. “Apartheid is not a vision for a just future,” said organizer Toby Kramer. “Hosting Peres at a house of workshop desecrates our Jewish ethical tradition; it is an offense to all places of worship.”

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.

  • RR, Senile Columnist

    How nice of you to keep us abreast of hardworking activists and their doings. Maybe the sweethearts who traveled to DC will get back in time to take up Sandra Fluke’s martyrdom as their next cause.

  • MamaBear

    An extra large gathering of Save Social Security Advocates greeted Mr. Simpson and Mr Bowles last night. In no uncertain terms, they let it be known, they won’t give up or be dismissed or go away. They are Saving Social Security and Medicare for their children and grandchildren. Peaceful,Old Fashioned Righteous POWER

  • Elwood

    “Peaceful,Old Fashioned Righteous POWER”

    Can you say peaceful, old fashioned righteous bankruptcy?

  • John W.

    Even though SS is self-funded through the payroll tax, it does contribute to current and future deficits in that the general fund must borrow money to pay off the Treasuries in the Trust Fund — to repay the money that was borrowed from payroll tax surpluses. Once those IOU’s have been cashed in by Social Security (about Year 2036), SS will not be able to pay out more than it takes in in payroll taxes, which will be sufficient to cover roughly 75% of scheduled benefits. There’s no argument about that reality. Adjustments of one kind or another will have to be made. However, the unspoken debate seems to be whether or not those IOU’s will be fully honored, since not doing so would be one way of reducing the national debt.