"Raising the retirement age would inflict further hardship among a group of workers who are likely to face health and economic problems in their 60s." –Doug Hart, President, Arizona Alliance for Retired Americans
"Of all the lies and confusion that still surround the Affordable Care Act, perhaps the greatest is that it is bad for seniors." - Dave Meinell, President, Missouri Alliance for Retired Americans
"My father died when I was three. Because of Social Security (survivors) benefits, my Mom, my younger sister and I survived." – Diane Fleming, DC Alliance Member
"We fear that Congress will balance the budget on the backs of the 98 percent, which is working Montanans and retired Montanans. We simply cannot afford these devastating cuts to vital services such as Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid," –John Forkan, President, Montana Alliance for Retired Americans
"Along with national parks and Social Security, Medicare is one of the best ideas we Americans have ever devised." -Tim Cunningham, New Mexico Alliance Member
"Seniors have earned and deserve their Social Security checks, and they shouldn't have to go to Congress every 10 years and beg for the program to be renewed." –James Parent, Alliance for Retired Americans Regional Board Member
"Today's retirees paid Medicare and Social Security taxes in every paycheck we ever earned. Now that we are retired, these programs help us to be able to stay healthy and pay our bills. They are the promise we make to people who worked hard all their lives, and we need to keep that promise for today’s workers." –Tony Fransetta, President, Florida Alliance for Retired Americans
"Today's seniors want to lower the budget deficit. We do not want a large debt to be the legacy we leave to future generations, but we should not punish people who have paid Social Security taxes all their lives." –Jim Moore, President, North Carolina Alliance for Retired Americans
"Social Security should remain what it has been for 77 years – a solid, reliable way that generations of workers have been able to retire with dignity, economic security, and peace of mind." –Barbara J. Easterling, President, Alliance for Retired Americans
"The fight for Social Security and Medicare is part of a larger fight for justice and fairness"—Barbara J. Easterling, President, Alliance for Retired Americans
"The health insurance reform helps not just seniors, but also middle-class families and young Americans, who are just starting to see the benefits. Don’t let Republicans take all that away." –Don Rowen, President Emeritus, Iowa Alliance for Retired Americans
"Honoring the promise of Social Security and Medicare should not be a partisan issue. Honoring the contributions that we make throughout our working years so that we may feed and clothe ourselves, keep a roof over our heads and those of our family, there is no reason for that to be a hotly contested partisan issue." –Edward Coyle, Executive Director, Alliance for Retired Americans
"We need to make sure that people who need Social Security to make ends meet will have it, and not fall victim to ill-informed and unnecessary cuts to these vital programs."
–Barbara J. Easterling, President, Alliance for Retired Americans
House Democrats Say: No Social Security Cuts!
September 10, 2010
According to the “Talking Points Memo” blog, House Democrats, led by Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) co-chair Raul Grijalva (AZ), are drawing a line in the sand before the White House's fiscal commission: If your report recommends cuts or other changes to Social Security, they will say, you'll lose our support. In a letter to be sent to President Obama, House Democrats will pledge to vote against any legislation based on the commission's report unless Social Security is taken off the table. “We oppose any cuts to Social Security benefits, including raising the retirement age,” the letter reads. “We also oppose any effort to privatize Social Security, in whole or in part.... If any of the Commission's recommendations cut or diminish Social Security in any way, we will stand firmly against them.” The effort is intended to tie the commission's hands, at least on this issue. Grijalva's effort is a response to signals and reports suggesting that the commission is reaching common ground on Social Security cuts. Democrats and advocates are rounding up signers, and will deliver the letter to Obama once the numbers climb, likely after Congress returns later this month. The original cosigners are Grijalva, John Conyers (D-MI), Dan Maffei (D-NY), Mary Jo Kilroy (D-OH), Chellie Pingree (D-ME), and CPC co-chair Lynn Woolsey (D-CA). They issued a “Dear Colleague” letter to House members last Friday and have identified dozens of potential signatories based on pledges and past statements. You can read the text of the letter in its entirety at http://bit.ly/9zwX4F. “Alliance members will have the opportunity to take part in a movement to increase the number of co-sponsors in an upcoming Friday Alert,” said Barbara J. Easterling, President of the Alliance. According to the AFL-CIO blog [http://bit.ly/akYyr8], phasing out, privatizing, or otherwise eliminating Social Security does not sit well with the vast majority of the voting public: the latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll finds that 68% of voters are “uncomfortable” with candidates who support such ideas.
On Labor Day, AFL-CIO President Writes Op-Ed about Workers Who Can’t Retire
AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka wrote an op-ed for Labor Day that addressed the growing number of seniors in the work force, unable to retire. “This Labor Day, more of our grandparents may be working a cashier’s line, waiting tables or preparing lessons for the first day of school,” Trumka stated. He went on to warn that even with such troubling occurrences becoming more common, there are those who wish to hurt seniors’ ability to retire by cutting back on Social Security benefits and raising the retirement age. He called on Americans not to let that happen. Seniors should be able “to take their grandkids to a ballgame this Labor Day instead of having to work the concession stand at the stadium,” he wrote. To read the op-ed, go to http://bit.ly/aF5iw3.
Steelworkers Urge Fiscal Commission Member David Cote’s Removal
Last week, another deficit commission member came under scrutiny for inappropriate behavior. In a letter to President Obama, C.L. Entrekin and Jim Centner, leaders of the 350,000-member Steelworkers Organization of Active Retirees wrote, “Mr. Cote should be evicted from the so-called Deficit Commission immediately, before he can use that position to harm all Americans the way he is injuring Honeywell workers in Illinois.” They explained that in June, Honeywell locked out 230 union workers at its hexafluoride plant, even though they offered to continue working under the terms of their expired contract. Honeywell, under Cote’s leadership, had proposed eliminating retiree health care and increasing workers’ out-of-pocket health care premiums to $8,500 per year. “As if that weren’t a bad enough deal, SOAR points out that workers at the Metropolis uranium enrichment plant are exposed to hazardous materials on-the-job and suffer from high cancer rates,” said Ruben Burks, Secretary-Treasurer of the Alliance. Workers and members of the community are very concerned about a recent hydrogen explosion at the plant [http://huff.to/bApwAr]. They are outraged that Cote may be willing to risk contamination by untrained temporary workers in order to force cuts in workers’ retiree health care and pension plans. Read the letter at http://bit.ly/bOoN3p.
Republicans Say They Will Try to Repeal Health Care Law if They Return to Power
According to the Associated Press, if Republicans succeed beyond any current predictions and capture both the Senate and the House, some are planning the prospect of a government shutdown as a tool they would use to try and repeal this year’s health care law. Republicans could also fall back on the “congressional power of the purse,” denying the administration billions of dollars to carry out the legislation. The House Majority Leader, Steny Hoyer, (D-MD) dismissed the talk of repeal as wishful thinking. Hoyer said that he's confident Democrats will stay in charge, and even if Republicans win, “they can beat their chests and say they won't fund the implementation of the law, but I think the law is the law, and if you can't change it, then, frankly, you have a responsibility to carry it out.” On “America Speaking Out,” a website sponsored by the House GOP, the mantra, “Repeal and Replace” drove home the stated goal of what to do about the health care law. Still, Republicans would not have enough GOP votes to overcome President Obama's vetoes. Sen. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) signaled a slightly different plan, saying to home state reporters recently about the law, “What can we do? We can make narrow targeted efforts to go after the cost problems. Without the president, we can't repeal it. But we can go after portions of it aggressively.”
Colorado Alliance Convenes
The Colorado Alliance for Retired Americans held its annual convention yesterday. Alliance members discussed the state budget with the state treasurer, talked with policy specialists about ballot initiatives this year, and met with a representative from the Governor’s office on health care reform. The attendees also discussed Social Security and what potential threats coming out of the deficit commission would mean to Colorado. Director of the Department of Field Mobilization Dani Pere represented the national Alliance at the gathering.
Happy Grandparents Day!
Grandparents Day is this Sunday, September 12th. This Grandparents Day, Alliance leaders and members in the states will highlight the importance of strengthening Social Security, not for retirees, but for their children and grandchildren. Raising the retirement age is a cut in Social Security benefits – and Americans young and old are working to ensure the promise of Social Security is truly maintained for future generations.