News from the Skagit County Democrats
Skagit County Democrats Action Newsletter for December 5, 2022
1. NEW – The 40th Legislative District Democrats Executive Board will meet Wednesday, Dec 7, 6:30pm via Zoom
The meeting will include preparation for the Reorganization Meeting Jan 8, 2023.
Join Zoom Meeting: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/84591251116?pwd=eVJXUUhrYlhnM0JHcmFZaFVJZHZLQT09
Meeting ID: 845 9125 1116
2. UPDATED – The Skagit County Democrats Central Committee will next meet Saturday, Dec 10, 10:00am via Zoom
This is our first Central Committee meeting with the newly elected Precinct Committee Officers (PCOs). Click Here for the Zoom link.
Currently our Reorganization Meeting is scheduled for Saturday, Jan 7, 2023 at 10:00am. Planning is underway for this to be an in-person meeting. More details to follow.
3. The 10th Legislative District Democrats Reorganization Meeting is Saturday, Dec 17, via Zoom
Join Zoom Meeting: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/87145433730; Meeting ID: 871 4543 3730.
4. UPDATED – The 39th Legislative District Democrats plan to have an in-person Holiday Potluck on Saturday, Dec 17, 11:15am – 12:30pm Large Meeting Room, Marysville Library, 6120 Grove Street, Marysville
"We will be providing some drinks. Please register (Click Here), especially if you plan on bringing food."
5. The Fidalgo Democrats will not be meeting in December
"The January meeting will return to in-person at the Anacortes Library on January 10. Our speaker will be newly elected Assessor Danny Hagen to explain how property taxes work." Details to follow.
The link to the recording of the most recent meeting on Nov 15 about housing for our whole community with Anacortes Council member Ryan Walters in now available. Click Here for the recording. "The recording started prior to the actual meeting, so please forward to the 9:40 mark. Sorry for the inconvenience."
6. Reorganization is coming up
(From Washington Democrats Chair Tina Podlodowski's newsletter of Nov 18) "Reorganization is the process by which local parties, who have newly elected Precinct Committee Officers from the midterm elections, meet for the first time with their new memberships and elect their officers. All 88 Legislative Districts and Counties meet to reorganize between the beginning of December, 2022, and the end of January, 2023."
7. Election Results
County Canvassing Boards certify final results and transmit them to the Secretary of State Tuesday, Nov 29. Dec 8 is the last day for the Secretary of State to certify the November 2022 General Election results.
To review the latest information:
- Local Skagit County Results: https://results.vote.wa.gov/results/20221108/skagit/
- Washington State Federal and Legislative Results: https://results.vote.wa.gov/
8. NEW – Don’t Be a Patsy – Don’t get played. Learn the tactics of Social Security’s opponents
The following is excerpted from the Puget Sound Advocates for Retirement Action (PSARA) newsletter of December 2022. Our thanks to Alix Foster for the suggestion.
"Don’t Be a Patsy
Don’t get played. Learn the tactics of Social Security’s opponents.
Linda Peterson, PSARA Education Committee
The billionaire class and their right-wing paid politicians have long hated Social Security, loathing it as “socialism." But they’ve learned to disguise their opposition to this program that the American people love and count on. Never ones to let a good crisis go to waste, Social Security’s opponents are now using the program’s projected 2035 shortfall to call for it to be “reformed” or “modernized”– but in ways that would undermine it rather than protect and expand it. While some reforms are certainly needed if we are to avoid the shortfall, let’s not be taken in.
Let’s not be patsies. Here are a few of the tactics they are using.
Tactic #1: They obfuscate the true nature of Social Security and treat it as a pension or a private retirement account. It is not. It is a social insurance program. We pay the premiums for this insurance throughout our working lives, through the FICA (Federal Insurance Contributions Act) withholding of 6.2% on our paychecks. Social Security insurance 1) provides funds for your surviving dependents if you should die (it is our nation's largest children's support program), 2) provides disability insurance for you (most workers have no other disability insurance), and 3) if you reach retirement age and no longer earn income, it provides some support for you in your golden years, regardless of how many years you have left. And it’s inflation adjusted.
Recognition that Social Security is a social insurance program, not a private retirement savings account, exposes the craziness of recent Republican proposals suggesting people should be able to ”withdraw” funds from “their” account to pay for parental leave or education debt, as if Social Security were a person’s private piggy bank instead of insurance. But there’s a reason these Republicans are crazy like a fox. It suits them to have people begin thinking of Social Security as one’s private retirement savings account rather than a social insurance program, because that’s what they want it to be. This is a first step in an ongoing attempt to privatize it.
They like to point out that you could – maybe – earn more retirement income by investing your Social Security contributions on your own. Hmm…would you stop paying your car or home insurance premiums, sock the funds away into some private account, and cross your fingers that you’re adequately covered? Of course not, so why would anyone want to do that with Social Security insurance? And what if you should become disabled? Or you died and left minor children unprotected? These are not questions the opponents care about, because they don’t really care about you. But they know very well that the private sector would be very, very glad to manage these privatized accounts, just like Wall Street already does for 401(k) accounts. For a fee, of course. A fee that is likely to be substantially more than the Social Security Administration's 1%.
Most of us see through these attempts to privatize Social Security. But the opponents still have other tactics.
Tactic #2: They claim that Social Security is a major driver of federal deficits and debt, and if we care about future generations of Americans, we will surely see it’s important to rein it in.
Of course we care about future generations. But Social Security adds not one dollar to the debt. It is entirely self-funded. Every dollar that is paid out in benefits comes from the payroll contributions – insurance premiums – that we pay with every paycheck all our working lives, and from any interest that has been earned on the balance in Social Security’s dedicated trust fund. By law, it cannot pay benefits without its own sufficient income. Those concerned about our country’s billowing debt would do better to look elsewhere, such as wars fought on credit cards, and not at a self-funded program like Social Security.
So we see through that tactic, too. But wait, they have more.
Tactic #3: They claim the program is unsustainable simply due to basic demographics. While it is true there is a projected shortfall that needs to be addressed and that changes do need to be made to make it sustainable, it is not simply a matter of demographics. Census actuaries and demographers knew about and predicted the baby boom retirement wave many decades ago, and in anticipation, Congress enacted changes in 1983 to shore up the trust fund. But there was something they could not predict.
What they could not predict was the wage stagnation of the past 40 years, our country’s increasing income inequality, and the hollowing out of the middle class. Since Social Security contributions are a percentage of wages, income inequality and wage stagnation are responsible for more than one quarter of the projected Social Security shortfall, per the Center for Economic and Policy Research. What if Congress were to double the minimum wage, which would boost wages up and down the line? Think about it: 6.2% of $15 is more than twice as much as 6.2% of $7.25. But they don’t want to talk about increasing the minimum wage. It suits them to have young people blame baby boomers instead.
Tactic #4: They claim the way to make the program sustainable is to increase the retirement age for future retirees to 69 or even 70, and that it makes sense because people are living longer. First, not everyone actually is living longer or is able to work longer. Not only are there race and class differences in longevity, but already half the people applying for Social Security benefits are doing so before they reach full retirement age – and the retirement age of 67 hasn’t even been fully phased in yet.
Second, and more important, raising the retirement age is a de facto benefit cut. Republican proposals conveniently gloss over this fact, even though their entire purpose is to rein in spending, and how would one do that without reducing benefits?
Every increase in the retirement age resets the scale of benefits downward, so that phasing in a two-year increase in the retirement age would be the equivalent of phasing in a roughly 13% benefit cut, per the National Association of Social Insurance.
Because the change would be phased in, this reduction in benefits would not fall on current retirees (Republicans are quick to reassure current retirees they’re not talking about them) but on future generations, the very generations they purport to be so concerned about in tactics 2 and 3 above. And ironically, it would likely not even solve the 2035 shortfall, because the changes would need time to be phased in.
Raising the retirement age would in effect be telling younger generations to start preparing for 13% (or more) reduction in their future Social Security benefits. This is unconscionable. The younger generations are facing a very different retirement environment. Pensions have pretty much disappeared, except in some public sectors. They have been replaced by private savings or 401(k) plans, but the majority of workers don’t have them. Those that do mostly have inadequate savings. Asking younger generations to save more is a cruel joke in the current environment of wage stagnation, burdensome education debt, and skyrocketing costs for childcare, housing, and health care. How can we even consider cutting their future Social Security on top of all that?
But of course, there is an alternative. We can make the wealthy pay their fair share. Scrap the cap! We don’t need to let the Republicans play us for patsies. We don’t need to fall into their mindset that the only way to make the program sustainable is to reduce benefits and raise the retirement age.
We have a choice: our children and grandchildren’s future retirement security vs. saving the wealthy a few bucks they wouldn’t even miss.
Linda Peterson is Chair of PSARA's Education Committee"
9. NEW – Links of the Week
The Links of the Week provide in-depth pieces and resources the Editor has found to be relevant, insightful, and thorough on important issues of the day.
- 'Died Suddenly' repeats debunked COVID-19 vaccine claims, promotes conspiracy theory
- Xi Jinping is not looking to go to war over Taiwan anytime soon
- How to Fight Fascism Before It’s Too Late
- What's the Harm in Talking to Russia? A Lot, Actually
- The Civil War’s Most Interesting General
- Seven Books That Will Make You Smarter
1. NEW – Santa Breakfast, Saturday, Dec 10, 8:30am – 11:30am, Sedro-Woolley Community Center, 703 Pacific Street, Sedro-Woolley
Sponsored by Beta Sigma Phi. Free for Kids – Adults Donation.
2. NEW – Concrete Tree-Lighting Ceremony, Saturday, Dec 10, 6:00pm, downtown Concrete
"Music and merriment in Town Center! Main Street will be closed to through traffic near the Town Tree; please park nearby and walk to the tree at the east end of Main."
3. NEW – Holiday Lighted Boat Parade along the Swinomish Channel, Saturday, Dec 10, 6:00pm – 7:00pm, Swinomish Channel, La Conner
4. COVID-19 Information
COVID-19 Testing Site at Cascade Mall to Reduce Hours
"Effective October 31, 2022, the hours of operation at Skagit County Public Health’s COVID-19 testing site at Cascade Mall, located at 150 Cascade Mall Drive in Burlington, will be changing. Testing services will be available the following days and times until further notice."
- Mondays: 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.
- Thursdays: 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Click Here for the most current report and resources.
1. Anacortes Sunday Demonstrations
Democrats are again demonstrating in Anacortes each Sunday, 12:00pm – 1:00pm at the corner of 12th Street and Commercial Avenue. "We carry signs for Dem candidates, get out and vote signs, women's right-to-chose in healthcare and so on and so on. We need more people to show up."
2. UPDATED – Coffee & Cards, Wednesdays, 10:00am – 12:00pm, Skagit County Democrats Headquarters, 2021 East College Way, Suite 104, Mount Vernon
ATTENTION: Coffee & Cards will not be meeting this Wednesday, Dec 7.