October 12, 2005

To West Virginians United to Protect Social Security,

The winds of change have hit Washington with hurricane force this fall, and as you probably have already heard, Social Security is off the table for the foreseeable future.
This is a huge win for all of us who worked so hard all summer to make a vote on privatization so unpalatable. All year, poll numbers steadily declined across the nation as we and our sister groups got the word out on what the privatization scam was really all about.
Now the same folks who brought us privatization say that because we have such a massive clean up bill from Katrina and her sister, we must make even deeper cuts in Medicaid, foodstamps and other safety net programs, "so our children won't have to pay for it."
Yet at the same time, massive tax cuts are also on the schedule for this fall, adding salt to these proposed cuts in services.
We have a well functioning Coalition that worked hard to fight the takeover of Social Security and we should now take the next step. I'm hoping we can stick together under the recast banner of West Virginians United.
We are fighting the same group of bandits whether its Social Security Privatization, Prevailing wage roll-backs, Medicaid cuts, tax cuts for the rich, ect.
I'm proposing a general meeting of WV United to Protect Social Security to discuss a potential transition to group that ready to fight for our values no matter what the bandits in Washington throw at us.
Lets stick together as West Virginians United, and let's roll...
Gary Zuckett, WV Citizen Action, 346-5891
ps below are several news articles on the transition to the Medicaid/Tax fight. This is happening right now so let me know if your group is on board...

Emergency Campaign for America’s Priorities

For Immediate Release                                                             Contact: Brad Woodhouse or Cara Morris

Date: October 11, 2005                                               Phone:    202-955-1002                                     

Anti-Privatization Team, Groups Turns to Budget Cuts, Tax Cuts Fight


Congressional Quarterly, Social Security Overhaul Foes Turn Their Attention to Budget Cuts

NBC’s First Read

Congressional Quarterly, 10 Signs Social Security Plan is Dead (for Now)

Social Security Overhaul Foes Turn Their Attention to Budget Cuts

By Alex Wayne, CQ Staff

The people who brought you Americans United to Protect Social Security — the interest group that helped derail President Bush’s plans for a Social Security overhaul — have found a new pursuit: pushing Congress to reconsider reconciliation, the package of spending and tax cuts lawmakers will be writing in the next couple weeks.

“It could not be a more inappropriate time in American history to be cutting taxes for the wealthy and cutting social welfare programs that primarily benefit the poor and the middle class, but by God, that’s what the Republicans are hell-bent on doing,” said Brad Woodhouse, the spokesman for Americans United to Protect Social Security. “And ECAP has been formed to try to prevent that,” he said, referring to the group’s new incarnation as the Emergency Campaign for America’s Priorities.

Congress is not in session this week and Monday was a federal holiday; spokeswomen for the House and Senate Budget committees could not be reached.

As it has become clear that Congress is unlikely to act on Social Security this year, Americans United — founded and funded by labor unions and a coalition of liberal interest groups — has seen its fundraising slow and its staff shrink. They are down to a core group of four people, Woodhouse said, who will continue to monitor the Social Security debate for signs of life — “particularly anything [House Ways and Means Chairman] Bill Thomas might try.”

But Democrats and their interest-group allies consider the group, with its quickly assembled network of state affiliates, a model for a successful “issues campaign.” To defeat Bush’s Social Security proposals, the group combined a Washington-based lobbying and media campaign with political campaigns targeted at individual lawmakers in their home districts.

Americans United helped persuade several Republican rank-and-file House members, such as Missouri’s Jo Ann Emerson, Pennsylvania’s Jim Gerlach and Illinois’ Jerry Weller, to publicly disavow Social Security plans proposed by Bush or Republican lawmakers. Many other Republicans — facing protests by the group outside their district offices — never took a public position on Social Security, also helping to sap momentum for an overhaul.

So Democrats have hoped to use the model to fight further issues battles. In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, the planned spending and tax cuts have emerged as a natural target.

The fiscal 2006 budget resolution (H Con Res 95) calls for $35 billion in spending cuts and $70 billion in tax cuts. House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., proposed Oct. 6 to amend the budget to add another $15 billion in cuts to offset the costs of the Katrina recovery.

Congressional committees have been told to report the spending-cut bills by Oct. 17. The tax cut legislation will follow.

So ECAP is acting rapidly, staging at least seven events this week around the country aimed at lawmakers it considers wavering on the spending and tax cuts. Its targets include moderate Republicans such as Sens. Olympia J. Snowe of Maine and lawmakers engaged in statewide election campaigns next year such as House Budget Chairman Jim Nussle, R-Iowa, who is running for governor. The group has events planned in both states, according to a list distributed to campaign members.

The group’s financial backers include the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, the labor union that helped found Americans United; the AFL-CIO; the liberal interest group Campaign for America’s Future; and advocacy groups such as the Coalition on Human Needs and the Food Research and Action Center.

Source: CQ Today
Round-the-clock coverage of news from Capitol Hill.
© 2005 Congressional Quarterly Inc. All Rights Reserved.

NBC's First Read

October 11, 2005

That said, a coalition of labor, consumer, and liberal groups are banding together in an effort to get members of Congress -- mostly Republicans -- to back off proposed cuts in social programs as offsets to spending on hurricane relief. The Emergency Campaign for American Priorities (ECAP) basically wants to do to the budget reconciliation process what Americans United to Protect Social Security did to Bush's proposed private accounts: build opposition to the proposed cuts among the public and lawmakers through PR, field, and lobbying efforts. ECAP spokesperson Brad Woodhouse -- one of the many same Democratic operatives who worked on the Americans United effort and who are now working for ECAP -- concedes to First Read that this attempt will be more complicated than their previous one. But, Woodhouse charges, "It's immoral to be talking about cutting social welfare programs and use Katrina as the reason," when the cuts "were all included in the original budget, and then turn around and be hell-bent on tax cuts for the rich."

An ECAP source says the organization plans to target about 15 US senators and 70-80 House members from both sides of the aisle -- primarily moderate Republicans. No advertising is currently planned. ECAP's members include the politically known entities like AFSCME, the AFL-CIO, US Action, and the Campaign for America's Future.

Brad Woodhouse, Communications Director
Americans United to Protect Social Security
202-955-1002 ext 153
202-251-5669 - cell

10 Signs the Bush Social Security Plan Is Dead (for Now)

By Jill Barshay and Alex Wayne, CQ Staff
Oct. 10, 2005  

10. Rick Santorum, the No. 3 Senate GOP leader, is offering a bill to guarantee seniors their promised Social Security benefits.

9. Jerry Weller, an influential House Ways and Means Committee Republican, says he’d oppose legislation that would use the Social Security surplus to establish individual accounts for workers.

8. Thomas M. Reynolds, the chairman of the House Republicans’ campaign organization, is urging that the Social Security debate be postponed until after the 2006 election.

7. GOP strategist Grover Norquist predicts that what will become known as “W accounts” will materialize — but not until after George W. Bush has left the presidency.

6. House Ways and Means Chairman Bill Thomas is no longer promising to move an omnibus “retirement security” bill this year.

5. Senate Finance Committee Republicans haven’t discussed the topic together since July 14.

4. President Bush hasn’t held an attendance-restricted "conversation" on Social Security since July 22.

3. The AARP has shelved a new round of advertising to lampoon the accounts idea; it will spend the money promoting the new Medicare prescription drug benefit.

2. GOP Sen. George V. Voinovich has resurrected the term "lockbox" to describe the Social Security trust funds.

1. Brad Woodhouse, overcaffeinated spokesman for Americans United to Protect Social Security, now sends out just eight e-mails a day — significantly down from his near-three-figure heyday.