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Democracy For The Southern Adirondack/Tricounty Area
Thursday, April 14, 2005
 
GF-Tricounty DFA: After Action Report On DFA Meeting With Sweeney Representative
Hello Everyone;

In this abbreviated update:

1. After Action Report: Social Security
2. Dean Speaks On the Road
3. Town Meeting For the 25th
4. Ballston Spa Meetup on the 18th
5. Washington County Women's Luncheon April 23


1. After Action Report

Local DFA people here in Glens Falls, NY, met today with James Clark, the local representative of Congressman John Sweeney. This was part of our national DFA Action Day with True Majority to contact our congressional representatives on Social Security.

First, Dick Dudley and I know Jim from when Dick was Councilman At Large and City Council President here in Glens Falls and Jim was the Republican Mayor's assistant, so the meeting was very cordial, perhaps more than in some other areas. Jim emphasized that Rep. Sweeney is still listening to his constituents on this issue and is committed to keep listening. Only ten of our members were present, at Jim Clark's request (there was only so much room and some of us had to stand as it was). Everyone got a chance to speak at good length and all the comments on Social Security and the personal Social Security narratives were excellent. Jim took extensive notes. I also gave him a printout of DFA's Social Security Stories for NY's 20th CD.

Several of our members conveyed deeply moving personal stories on how Social Security had affected their lives. Here's a sample of only a few, because almost everyone seems to have been directly touched by Social Security or had an immediate family member who literally needed it to survive:
*One brought a disabled child up to adulthood and how he need disability payments
*Another needed survivor's benefits to raise her two children after her husband suddenly died.
* A third, who suffers from MS and is now wheelchair bound, explained how incredibly difficult it was to live on existing disability payments, and afford the expensive medications she requires.
*Yet another needed early retirement after a career reversal in order to make ends meet on a $10 an hour job.

The following points came up, some repeatedly and at length:
The difference between a defined benefit and a defined contribution system, as Bush has stated. One is guaranteed to retirees, the other could run out.
Survivors & Spousal benefits; how are these to be handled under a privatized system? Jim admitted he had no answers available on that.
Disability: there are many district residents who receive disability benefits; what will happen to those under a privatized system?
If the system is privatized, do people realize what can happen if they retire in the middle of a downturn in the market? Several members present related that they had taken significant, if not severe losses in the stock market or mutual funds, contrary to what they were told, and lacked confidence in any kind of market based solution.
Why can't the $90,000 cap on taxable income be raised?
It's wrong to saddle young people with trillions in new debt.
That the vote in the House of Representatives the previous day to abolish the tax on Unearned Inherited Wealth, or the Estate Tax or Paris Hilton Tax, threw way One Trillion of the 1.7 Trillion needed to close any potential gap down the road in Social Security.
The 20th CD is a relatively poor district, with few millionaires, so abolishing the Paris Hilton Tax made no sense at all.
That our Meetup historically attracted large numbers of Nelson Rockefeller - John Lindsey type moderate to liberal Republicans who were shocked at what Bush was doing and didn't support these changes either, and that there were significant numbers of them in the 20th CD.
That Bush is pushing a Social Darwinist version of our society, and this is a repudiation of traditional American values.

Jim took our names and promised to get back to us on the specific questions we raised. In response to another question, he admitted that no groups had asked to meet with them who were in favor of privatizing or abolishing Social Security, only groups who wanted to save Social Security. He said area labor unions were particularly strong on saving Social Security and had been particularly intense.

We don't know how this will come out. Jim was visibly quite affected. However, Sweeney is quite conservative, but I think we we made it clear there is no call from NY's 20th CD to make radical changes in America's most important and successful social program.

Apropos the comments on abolishing the Unearned Wealth or Paris Hilton Tax, take a look at these accounts if there is any doubt in anyone's mind about this: dKos

Washington Post

2. Dean Speaks On the Road

Governor Dean has been traveling around the country speaking to Democratic groups. This is an excellent report from yesterday summarizing the Democrat's victory program which reflects Dean's latest thinking. As usual, the Governor is at least a couple of cycles of observation, decision and action ahead of anyone else in the Democratic Party. It's really encouraging: Dean's latest thinking

3. Town Meeting For the 25th

As we've noted before, put 6pm on April 25th at the Saratoga Springs Public Library on your calendar. There will be an open Town Meeting, to which Rep. John Sweeney has been invited, on the subject of Saving Social Security. We are hoping to get as large a crowd as possible to this event, which is sponsored by a variety of groups lead by the In This Together Coalition, which is closely connected to the Working Families Party, along with Democratic and local DFA groups. If Sweeney doesn't show, there will be an open chair debate. Please tell your friends!

4. Ballston Spa Meetup on the 20th

There is a new DFA meetup coming to our area: Ballston Spa! This meetup is being organized by Patrick Southworth, the Town of Ballston Democratic Committee Chair. We would urge everyone on this list in the Ballston Spa area to join in this new meetup. There are many burning issues in Ballston today, only one of which is the effort to keep historic and scenic Ballston Spa from being Walmarted. For more information go to: http://dfa.meetup.com/904/ The meetup will be on April 20.

5. Washington County Women's Luncheon April 23

The Washington County Democratic Women’s Spring Luncheon will be held on Saturday, April 23, from noon to 2:00 PM at the Cambridge Hotel, 4 West Main St., Cambridge NY.

Featured Speaker: Clare Brandt, Co-founder and Chairperson of the Dutchess County Democratic Women’s Caucus.

$20 per person, choice of Broiled Scrod, Chicken Caesar Salad, London Broil, or a Vegetarian (Note: not tax deductible).

To reserve your seat, send $20 payable to Washington County Democratic Committee (WCDC) to Louise Talkington, 3954 County Route 30, Salem NY 12865. Call Ellen Faber at (518) 677-8345 for more information.

Thanks everyone,

Larry

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