I was one of 2700 people who pledged to visit members of congress on July 19 and let them know I won’t vote for anyone who votes to cut Social Security or Medicare benefits. I went to Capitol Hill and visited some 40 offices with FDL readers weedpicker and Noel Q, who acted as cameraman. I gave each office a copy of our handout on Social Security and Medicare (PDF), and told them that 50,000 people had pledged not to vote for anyone who voted to cut Social Security and Medicare benefits.
I also let them know that “benefit cut” also included voting for a Chained CPI, raising the retirement age, or the creation of any kind of commission with the ability to write legislation that would bypass normal Congressional procedure (aka Catfood II).
Others have posted diaries on their visits, including Kelly Canfield and RFShunt. We also put up a feedback form where people can send us their reports, and attach photos and videos from their visits.
Here are some of the reports we’ve already received:
Courtney visited Earl Blumenauer and Ron Wyden “Their aides said that they do not plan to cut Social Security or Medicare benefits. Blumenauer’s aide said there will probably have to be cuts but not til 2037.”
James visited Kathy Castor: “Her staff received the fact sheet, and I told her staff that I would not vote for her (something I’ve done since working for her County Commission and initial House races)if she voted to cut the social safety net.”
Mark visited Henry Waxman: ”I spoke to a case worker. He listened and said that he would tell Congressman Waxman. I told him that I represented not only myself but all of my friends and associates who couldn’t take time off from work as I did to vist the Congressman’s office. I have no idea how effective my visit was, but I was glad to show up in support on this vital stance against cutting the safety net benefits.”
Bret visited Carolyln Maloney: ”I visited the Queens Office of Rep. Carolyn P. Maloney/14th C.D./N.Y. in Astoria. I met with her District Representative & expressed my concerns due to being dependent on SSDI/Medicare & how cuts affected already. I also delivered the Strengthen Social Security fact sheets & a p/o of the Obama’s Last Lecture URL the FDL article URLs. I also made sure that he (the rep) would vet the video & the articles as they called into question the “strategy” of the President & how it’s affected his coalition’s needs that remain unaddressed by policy & legislation. The Dist. Rep. assured me that he would make sure my concerns reached Rep. Maloney. The meeting went very well & lasted approximately 10 minutes. At home, I noticed that I neglected to drop off the FDL fact sheet, so I am dropping that off ASAP.”
Julio visited Mike Honda: “My congressman is on board and pushing apparently very hard against any kind of cuts.”
Mary visited Joe Wilson: “My husband and i visited Rep. Joe Wilson’s office in downtown Beaufort, SC. One of his staff greeted us and we had a pleasant conversation. I presented her with the 3 forms that I had downloaded from your website. After reading them, she said she was sure that Rep. Wilson would protect Social Security and Medicare.”
Mark visited Xavier Becerra: ”I briefly spoke with someone in the office about no cuts in social security, medicare, medicade. They took my name ect. and that was it.”
Arthur visited David Price: “Spoke with his District Director. Our statement that we will not vote for Price again if he votes to fray the country’s inadequate safety net was received and understood. We received assurances that Price was a full supporter of Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid but o unequivocal statement to protect the safety net was made.”
Christie visited Nancy Pelosi and Senator Diane Feinstein:
PELOSI VISIT: “I was told to submit my comments on a form. When I insisted, someone finally came out to talk with me. He said Pelosi was committed to “strengthening” Social Security but hedged on the retirement age and admitted that the politics were difficult. I gave him an earful. I’m almost 65, jobless, and have run through 2 years of Unemployment benefits after losing my home to foreclosure).”
William visited Jim Gerlach: “I talked to the staff member and relayed my message. She was very courteous and said she would relay my message to the representative.”
Jane visited Duncan Hunter: “Spoke with an aide; she took a 2 sentence synopsis & tried to tell me SS & Medicare would dry up without immediate changes. I countered. Told her the state of CA was ALREADY taking 40% of my fully quartered SS because I am a teacher. She said it would not affect ME. I said I cared about the future teachers, too.”
Ann visited John Dingell: ”Sadly, Rep. Dingell had just left to return to DC. However, we did speak to his staff, who assured us that Dingell does not support any cuts to these programs. In fact, he would like “Medicare for All.” The visit went well and the staff spent quite a bit of time with us – and then, as we were walking out of the office, we got to watch someone back into my car and drive away!”
Cherie visited Ann Eshoo: ”When I arrived at the office, I was the only constituent there. An aide took down my message. While he said the Congresswoman listens to her constituents, he was not able to assure me that she would never support cuts to Social Security and Medicare.”
Walter visited John Dingle: ”We had a long discussion with the aid and were assured that representative Dingle would not support any reductions in benefits.”
Claudia visited Mick Mulvaney: ”My father 93yrs, and I went to Mulvaney office in person and we wrote down on a legal pad that we wanted him to vote for raising the debit ceiling, to vote for raising revenues, hands off social security and medicare and make the rich pay their fair share, in so many words. I also asked if Malvaney sighned the Grover Norquist pledge. They said he had not signed it…??? I told the sec. that we were against the bill that was just passed in the house, he voted for, that was worthless waist of time. She said we were the only ones that came by and that she only got a few call from people in favor of ” the cut, slash and ba-lanced bull”? bill that just passed. We were polite and were treated likewise the same.”
Gary visited Jason Chaffetz: ”Dropped in during the lunch hour, the door was locked – actually the door had a security card reader, so you can’t enter unless you have a card or someone lets you in. I couldn’t see anyone in the front office, but I could hear voices, so I knocked a couple times until two people came out of the back office. The woman, I guess who was in her early 40′s, asked, without opening the door, if I had an appointment. I said no but I said (waving the letter) that I had a letter for Congressman Chaffetz. She opened the door, the young man with her asked what it was about. I explained I was there because of all the talk in Washington dragging SS and Medicare into the debt ceiling discussions, and that the letter was to tell Rep. Chaffetz that I will not vote for anyone who supports cuts or ‘reforms,’ and that others like me were tired of the crap going on in Washington. The lady said they were just watching the news about this in the back office, and they were very concerned about the debt limit and whether an agreement would be reached. I said that this whole debt ceiling matter didn’t have anything to do with SS/Medicare, that SS was totally funded separately by its own payroll deduction, it pays for itself and doesn’t contribute to the deficit. I said Medicare was also mostly funded by a separate means. The young man, early 20′s, obviously an intern, said yeah, but the budget lumps all gov’t spending together, including SS, defense, etc. I reiterated that SS pays for itself, told them that SS is a large part of many seniors’ income, and they depend on that just to survive. He said that yes it pays for itself now, but it needs to be fixed, I said it can support itslef until 2035 or so, and if it ever needs fixing, there are easy ways to fix it like increasing the maximum income level that is taxed (now about $106,000). The woman then asked if that would mean that SS check amounts would be adjusted upward for the higher-income contributors because they were taxed on a higher amount of income, I said yes, there could be some formula that would do that. These two seemed to be nice people, and they were courteous, but it was clear to me that these two were schooled in their talking points, and it seemed to me that we were just ‘talking past’ one other. Finally I told them I had to leave to go to another meeting (which I did), and they thanked me for coming in and leaving the FDL fact sheet (which the lady had glanced through as we were talking). She said they don’t get many visitors, and that the fact sheet would be very helpful, because most people just call or come in to complain and don’t offer any solutions or information to back themselves up. She said she would see that Rep. Chaffetz got my letter and the fact sheet. I thanked them both, shook their hands and left. So thank you, Jane, Brian & the FDL folks, for putting this fact sheet together, and for organizing this day, and your leadership in making it happen. You rock!”
Steven visited Russ Carnahan: ”He was not there but I spoke to the lady in the front. I told her that I was concerned about Congress trying to cut the big 3. I told her I was disabled and that my daughter and I depended on that money to survive. Her facial expression changed quite a bit. I told her I was a member of FDL and that I would do what ever I could to make sure no one votes for Rss or the dems if they touch the big 3. She said she would forward the letter to Mr. Carnahan and that I would receive a response via mail. When I get it I will scan it and send you a copy to post on your website if you are so inclined. I was the only one in the office but maybe others will show up.”
Steve visited Carolyn Maloney: ” Visited her office with 3 friends of mine. Explained to a staffer why we were visiting. Filled out constituents’ forms expressing our views & left. Note: I also educated a wider audience (approx. 10-15 people)via email about FDL’s action prior to our visit.”
Bryna visited William Keating: ” I spoke with 2 people in his Quincy, MA office. I was the only person to visit at that time. I asked what position the congressman is taking on cuts to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid and they could only tell me that Keating had been in communication with AARP. They were unable to tell me if the congressman would take the pledge not to support any bills that included cuts to benefits. I advised that these programs had nothing to do with the deficits and that any cuts to them would hurt the most vulnerable. I did advise that if Keating did vote for any cuts in these programs that I would not support him in the next election.”
Linda visited Adam Schiff: ” I was given a form to fill out to list the concerns that I had. They had a receptionist take it. A secretary came out to say they were glad to get my input and seemed to want me to leave it at that. I asked to speak to one of the Congressman’s representatives, and they said I could. So I waited just a very short time and a lady named Elizabeth escorted me to her office. I said I was opposed to any cuts or changes to Medicare, Social Security, or Medicaid. She assured me that Congressman Schiff was very protective of these programs. She was very nice. I was the only one there at the time I got there. I hope Schiff will not vote for this “deal” Obama has brokered with the Republicans. It is an awful deal for the middle and working class. This morning I heard that it will even eliminate the deduction folks can have on their income tax for the interest on their mortgage. I was appalled. That is the ONLY deduction most people have. It is not a loophole for the rich. It is also a huge disincentive for young people to buy a home–dealing another blow to the housing market and to the construction industry and to the American Dream. What folly!”
Marie visited Chaka Fattah: They said he was not in. I told the receptionist my concerns, and she put me on the in-house phone to the Washington office. They basically said Fattah agrees with us, but hasn’t decided how he would vote on a compromise.”
Gerald visited Sandy Adams: ” My older son and I (Jerry’s wife) went to her office, spoke briefly with the young man in the office, telling him that our entire family of 5 voters would not vote for someone who made cuts to social security and medicare. We also indicated our dissatisfaction with endless wars. We provided our names, email, etc. It took us an hour to drive there, from one end of the district to the other. Her employee was very pleasant and said he would officially record our visit–good hire on her part.”
Ryan visited Henry Waxman: ” The receptionist was very cordial and hi-fived when i told her why I was there. I wrote out a note outlining my concerns and she said that the congressman would get it.”
Ursula visited Paul Ryan, WI: ” I’ve been to Ryan’s office on several other occasions, appealing for/against his votes. I received NO RESPONSES to any of my appeals thus far and I’m sure this time will be no different. The woman in the office that I ranted to (not really – I was civil but straightforward) seemed indifferent, but wrote down what I said and asked me it I’d like a response from Mr. Ryan. I emphatically answered “YES”, and was given a choice of a phone response or an email response.
I chose email, but as I write this, there is nothing from Ryan in my inbox. Sadly, when you have a “Representative” (and I use the term loosly), you cannot expect much in return for your efforts if your adgenda conflicts with HIS adgenda/ideology).”