I loved practicing law….especially the power of the subpoena to force people to step up, tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. You can help people, right some wrongs. But……..law is slow………painfully slow. It can take years to fix problems and in the meantime people suffer.
And the media? It has speed and influence, the ability to make things happen. There are times when you get really lucky and can right a wrong and do so swiftly.
We got lucky Friday night with my OFF THE RECORD commentary on the injustice the Social Security Administration was imposing upon Americans. It was our chance to jump in and help. Click here to watch my OFF THE RECORD or scroll back to watch the OFF THE RECORD from Friday.)
What was the Social Security Administration doing? It was going back as many years as 37 and seizing unsuspecting, and innocent persons tax refunds. Click here to read more.
On Friday morning, I saw a story on the front page of the Washington Post by reporter Marc Fisher. He started this. He exposed what the Social Security Administration was doing and it was deplorable.
After reading the story, I had my staff call the woman who was at the center of the dispute. I also spoke to her lawyer. I wanted to make sure I had the facts.
Also on Friday, before I did the OFF THE RECORD comment Friday night, we called the Social Security Administration. We talked to them, got their statement. I am sure the Social Security Administration was not wild about hearing from us…and not wild that I was going to talk about what they were doing on Fox News that night. I am also sure the Social Security Administration did not like my description – ‘government stealing.’
And now? after all the heat from the media? News that the Social Security Administration has CHANGED ITS POLICY. The headline on today’s Washington Post is: “Social Security stops trying to collect old debts by seizing tax refunds.”
“…..I have directed an immediate halt to further referrals under the Treasury Offset Program to recover debts owed to the agency that are 10 years old and older pending a thorough review of our responsibility and discretion under the current law,” the acting Social Security commissioner, Carolyn Colvin, said in a statement….” [Washington Post]
Putting the collective media spotlight on this injustice changed it overnight. Using the law to do this would have taken years. If the Washington Post had not reported this story, I never would have seen it and been able to contribute to righting this wrong. And let me repeat, Washington Post started this, I only got to help. So…that’s why I love my work….the times when we can help right a wrong in very short order. I am proud when we can change things for the better and help people.
Two other things: after doing the OFF THE RECORD, I received many emails from others who were getting the same treatment from the Social Security Administration.
I also learned (from WashPost) the clause giving the Social Security Administration the the ability to go back decades and decades (lifting the statute of limitations) to do this injustice was a clause tucked in a Farm bill in May of 2008. I want to know what Member of Congress did this, who could possibly have thought this was a good idea to do to unsuspecting Americans. I am trying to find out who did this. Will that Member of Congress have the courage to identify himself or herself and explain?
PS – why does this back up my defense of CNN’s non stop coverage of flight 370? I don’t believe the search would still be on for that black box without CNN’s endless spotlight. That black box is important. Who knows? If it is found, maybe it will reveal a design defect in that 777? It took years – and lawsuits – before the 737 rudder problem was discovered, figured out and then fixed.
FYI on the 737 problem noted above: (info quoted from Wikipedia)
The 737’s first flight was 1967 and two fatal crashes (157 deaths and maybe more) are what led to fixing problem. It took years to focus on this problem and it involved two 737 models – the 200 and 300.)
On March 3, 1991, United Airlines Flight 585, a 737-200, crashed in Colorado Springs, CO, killing 25 people.
On September 8, 1994, USAir Flight 427, a 737-300 [this model launched 1981], crashed near Pittsburgh, PA, killing 132 people.
Starting in 1991, a number of accidents and incidents involving the Boeing 737 were the result of uncommanded movement of their rudders. The rudder is controlled by the Power Control Unit (PCU). Inside the PCU is a dual servo valve which helps direct hydraulic fluid in order to move the rudder. The PCU is manufactured by Parker Hannifin.
Other suspected 737 rudder PCU malfunction
On June 6, 1992, Copa Airlines Flight 201, a 737-200 Advanced, flipped to the right and crashed in the Darién Gap, killing 47 people. Initially, the investigators believed that the accident was caused by a sudden and violent deflection in the rudder of the plane, but after an extensive investigation with the flight data recorder, they had concluded that the crash was caused by faulty instrument readings.
On April 11, 1994, Continental Airlines pilot Ray Miller reported his aircraft rolled violently to the right; it landed safely.
On June 9, 1996, Eastwind Airlines Flight 517, a 737-200, experienced loss of rudder control while on approach to Richmond, VA.
On February 23, 1999, MetroJet Flight 2710, a 737-200, experienced a slow deflection of the rudder to its blowdown limit while flying at 33,000 feet above Salisbury, Maryland.