NOW commends the Democratic members of the House of Representatives for electing Nancy Pelosi as their next minority leader. Having proven herself a strong and effective speaker of the House, we expect Pelosi to continue serving the interests of women as minority leader.
Pelosi again demonstrated her keen leadership in the wake of the recommendations made by the co-chairs of the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, which called for Social Security benefit cuts — a dangerous move that would push hundreds of thousands of middle class women into poverty. Speaker Pelosi immediately denounced this plan, stating that it is “simply unacceptable.”
Pelosi is not alone in her opposition. Representative Jan Schakoswsky (D-Ill.), who sits on the commission, spoke out against these recommendations and proposed an alternative, comprehensive plan to reduce the federal budget without cutting Social Security benefits. Schakowsky responded to the recommendations, saying: “Social Security has nothing to do with the deficit. Addressing the Social Security issue as part of the deficit question is like attacking Iraq to retaliate for the 9/11 attacks — there is simply no relationship between the two and attempting to conflate them does a grave disservice to America’s seniors.”
Schakowsky points out that in addition to the fact that there is no correlation between the deficit and Social Security, “[t]aking money from Social Security retirees whose average total income is $18,000 per year and average benefit is $14,000 ($12,000 for women) is simply wrong.”
Pelosi and Schakowsky are two beams of light in the dreary halls of Congress. These women must be applauded for their efforts to defend the middle class against the wrong-headed ideas of co-chairs Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson. NOW urges the commission to come together behind the recommendations offered in Schakowsky’s plan, which does not attempt to arbitrarily balance the budget on the back of the middle class.
Schakowsky’s plan is detailed on her website.