MoveOn targets Bay Area officials’ offices today

Activists are descending today upon the offices of federal officials across the Bay Area, and across the nation, to deliver petitions urging the protection of Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and veterans’ benefits from cuts proposed by President Obama.

Organized by MoveOn.org, it appears there’ll be gatherings at noon at the offices of U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer in Oakland, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi in San Francisco, Rep. Eric Swalwell in Pleasanton, Rep. Jackie Speier in San Mateo, Rep. George Miller in Concord, Rep. Zoe Lofgren in San Jose, and Rep. Jared Huffman in San Rafael.

“I supported President Obama for reelection, but I won’t support him cutting Social Security,” said Frank Burton of Castro Valley, co-organizer of the event at Swalwell’s office. “Seniors depend on Social Security, and the cut in the cost-of-living adjustment is based on false logic. Seniors need the full cost-of-living adjustment because of huge increases in medical costs every year.”

Clark Sullivan of San Francisco said he helped organize the event at Pelosi’s office “because most people collecting Social Security are already starving for several days at the end of the month.

“Cutting benefits would increase the already unacceptable level of human misery for Americans who have paid a lifetime of taxes to support Social Security,” he said. “The Social Security Act has been one of the most successful federal programs ever enacted and is more solvent than it ever has been. There is no need to tamper with its current success.”

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.

  • Elwood

    Loonies demonstrating against the choir?

  • RR senile columnist

    Let’s subject the so-called activists to mental health background checks

  • MichaelB

    “The Social Security Act has been one of the most successful federal programs ever enacted and is more solvent than it ever has been. There is no need to tamper with its current success.”

    Left wing definition of “success” (aka moral bankruptcy) – more people taking out/more people on dependent on entitlement/government assistance programs with fewer people paying in/funding them.

  • JohnW

    Folks are in serious denial on SS. Doing nothing doesn’t mean benefits stay the same.

    Once the trust fund reserve account runs dry by 2033 at latest, payroll taxes will be enough to cover about 75% of scheduled benefits. Yes, Virginia, there really is a trust fund. It’s the intra-governmental bond debt owed SS by the general Treasury. Nobody “stole” the trust fund. SS will get the full benefit of the surpluses that accrued during the 1990’s.

    However, as an independently funded program, SS doesn’t have the means, authority or obligation to pay out more in benefits than it receives in payroll taxes. So payouts will have to be reduced 25%. That’s the law. The only question is how they distribute that 25% cut — either by reducing benefits across the board for both new retirees and people already receiving benefits or by means testing a significant number of people off the SS rolls.

    The same thing applies to Medicare Part A, which is independently and solely funded by the Medicare payroll tax. Only difference is that trust fund dries up in about 10 years rather than 20 for SS.

    I’m SS age, and I completely support Obama’s proposal regarding “Chained CPI.” In effect, that would very gradually reduce scheduled future benefits over time. It’s not enough to close the 25% funding gap, but it’s a decent and fair-minded start.

  • Clark Sullivan

    How about raising the taxable amount of income to $204,000 to keep up with inflation.
    And all of you trolls are completely misinformed on this issue.

  • MichaelB


    How original. A tax increase (but no structural reform) to shore up a government assistance program with fewer paying in and more retirees taking out.

    To be “informed” is to simply take the left wing/”Move On” position – we just need more government benefits to prevent so called “misery”. Despite trillion dollar deficits/mounting debt levels we just can’t “afford” to cut/reduce the growth of anything. We need another magic tax increase on people already paying most of the taxes anyway to “fix” everything. How about more jobs for those currently unemployed so when people become seniors they would have been able to save more for retirement costs?

    Could the “huge increases in medical costs” mentioned in the article have something to do with Obama’s cumbersome health care “reform” plan? The one that we “had to pass to see what’s in it”?

    No worries. Democrats in Congress won’t agree to this.

  • JohnW

    The taxable amount already increases just about every year. Over the past thirty years, it has increased from $35,700 in 1983 to $113,700 this year. More recently, it was $87,000 in 2003, $106,800 in 2011 and $110,100 in 2012.

    Some, like you, have proposed a major increase in the cap. Others have proposed lifting the cap entirely. Others have proposed increasing the SS payroll tax rate, which has been 12.4% (including the employer contribution) since 1990.

    Lifting the cap, raising the rate or some combination could close the long-term funding gap. But there are problems with that approach.

    People who consider the payroll tax regressive would not support raising the rate.

    The cap will keep going up every year anyway, but let’s say we increase it by $150,000 more than it would be under the current law. That would be a $9,300 tax increase for employees subject to that, or $18,600 for self-employed people who have to directly pay both the employee and employer portion. Somebody with that amount of gross income is probably in the 28% or 33% marginal income tax bracket. Raising the cap would have the same effect as increasing their marginal income tax rate to 34.2% or 39.2%, not counting the employer-paid portion. That’s a 22% hike in the marginal tax burden. People in this income category are doing well, but they are still middle income, not the private jet set.

    Let’s say that we agree that people should pay higher taxes (more like the Clinton years). I’m for that. But what should we do with the extra revenue? Should it go to fund benefits for people my age, or should it be invested in the future — for infrastructure, education and basic science research. I vote for the latter. Social Security is already 22% of federal spending, and growing each year. Medicare is another 16%. How much share of federal spending should programs for seniors consume?

  • Bruce R. Peterson, Lafayette

    Why doesn’t the government talk about cutting funding for foreign aid, NASA, the military & it’s oversea bases & the losing war on drugs? Oh right. No loonies would protest.

  • Rick K.

    This is typical of MoveOn. Raise a ruckus to draw media attention and then deny that any crisis exists by yelling a generic “No!” in response to every solution. Social Security is not intended to be a pension – it’s supposed to be a safety net. It’s unfair for today’s seniors to take advantage of an inaccurate cost-of-living adjustment formula and thereby bankrupt the system before today’s 20- and 30-year olds retire. Just like that 3% at age 50 pension system for greedy firefighters that is literally bankrupting local governments across California – it’s stealing money from future generations.

  • RR senile columnist

    Greedy seniors don’t need SS monthly checks. Greed enabled them to exploit others when they were younger so they wound up richer than the rest of us.

  • JohnW


    Social Security is not remotely like 3% at 50 public pensions.

    For somebody who paid in the maximum to SS every year for 40 years and retired in 2013 at age 66, Social Security replaces less than 30% of the income that was subject to SS tax in their final year of work. That would be slightly less than $31,000 for somebody who paid taxes on $110,000 in 2012.

    3% at 50 covers all income, even if they made $300,000 in salary and overtime. It replaces 90% of the final year and starts as early as 50. By age 80, a 3% at 50 retiree making $110,000 before retirement would collect almost $3 million (not counting cost of living increases). The SS retiree making the same amount would collect less than $500 thousand.

    A non-safety, non-teacher public employee would have a somewhat less generous benefit formula (although 2.75% at 60 is not uncommon), but, unlike cops, firefighters and teachers, they would collect Social Security in addition to that. So, their combined pension and Social Security could easily exceed what they earned while working.

    A person working in the private sector and lucky enough to work for one of the few companies that still offers a generous defined benefit pension would collect about $50 thousand per year starting at age 65, based on at least 35 years of service and pre-retirement income of $110,000. Also, private sector pensions almost never have cost of living increases.

    One change they should make to SS for new retirees is to stop paying their spouses 50% of the retiree’s SS benefit, even if the spouse receiving the 50% never paid a dime into SS. Spouses of still-living SS retirees should not receive anything unless they paid into the system.

  • Clark Sullivan

    Yo RR I don’t know which turnip truck you fell off of, but seniors paid into SS all their lives and the money paid in benefits is THEIRS! Many elders and disabled people struggle to whether to eat or pay for meds the last few days of every month. The only greedy people in this scenario are politicos and banksters who have been licking their chops for years at how to exploit SS in a privatization scheme. For the top 10% of wage earners, ($1 million a year plus), the small rise in SS taxes is like tossing pennies away to you or I.
    Austerity is not an option for those of us least to afford it and many people will suffer malnutrition and skip heath care visits as they are pushed out into our streets to die.
    Get a clue trolls, call your Representative to stop the cuts, before the money we ALL pay into Social Security is embezzled by neocons (Obama and his Wall Street masters like Jamie Dimon)in the same manner they plundered the Federal Treasury in 2008. Nearly all who commented on this thread, will most certainly collect SS benefits in their golden years.

  • Bruce R. Peterson, Lafayette

    @10. When I was young, I worked long hours & made an investment in property. Now I need my tiny bit of SS money to pay the taxes for owning my property.
    RR Senile, you sound just like the pro-tax politicians who want to tax people out of their homes, so school teachers, police, firefighters & prison guards can retire young & in luxury. If your comment was went to be sarcastic, please let us know. Unless you like to be known as a turnip.

  • JohnW

    Social Security was a great deal for the Greatest Generation. It’s still a good deal for the oldest baby boomers like me. It will be more of a break-even deal for the youngest baby boomers and later.

    My dad, who retired at 65 in 1977, collected more than $200 thousand in SS benefits during 18 years of retirement. His second wife, whom he married at 67 after my mom died, collected another $90,000 in spousal benefits and $75,000 in survivor benefits after marrying my dad, even though she never paid a dime of SS taxes. His and her benefits combined? About $365,000.

    He paid the maximum SS payroll taxes from 1937 to 1977, which totaled about $16,000, including the employer contributions. That’s just a couple of thousand more than the combined maximum employer & employee contributions just for 2013.

    My brother-in-law’s father was born and retired in the same years as my dad and also paid in about $16,000. He is still alive and turns 101 this week. So, to date, his total take from SS is probably about $600 thousand.

  • RR Senile Columnist

    To Comrade Clark: Great wealth is a great crime. The more enormous the wealth, the greater the enormity of the misdeeds.