"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
President Obama's Budget Proposal Does Not Include Social Security Cuts
February 18, 2011
On Monday, President Obama released his much-anticipated budget proposal for the 2012 fiscal year. While Republican leaders are calling for lower Social Security payments for seniors and an increase in the retirement age, the President upheld his commitment to retirees by leaving out cuts to Social Security. There are no proposed changes in the budget that would raise the retirement age; cut benefits or the Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA); or raise the earnings cap subject to Social Security payroll taxes. The President’s budget proposes a one time $250 payment to Social Security beneficiaries and other retirees in lieu of the COLA, like last year's budget submission, but this provision was not enacted last time.
The President also proposed $2.57 billion for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program – a cut by half from previous levels. The administration feels that a decrease in funding is warranted because of a decrease in energy prices. “We as a nation cannot afford to balance the budget and reduce the deficit by leaving our most vulnerable citizens, those who live in low-income households and are on fixed incomes, out in the cold,” said Ruben Burks, Secretary-Treasurer of the Alliance.
The budget proposal would postpone for two years a scheduled 25% cut in the Medicare physician payment formula, known as the Sustainable Growth Rate, that is set to go into effect at the end of the year. The $62 billion “doc fix” would be paid for in part by changes that cut other sources of federal health spending. “We hope that our President will continue to be a strong champion of Social Security and Medicare, and that he will continue to stand up to the Republicans who want to cut these programs that help millions of seniors,” said Barbara J. Easterling, President of the Alliance.
Coyle Urges Senate to Reject Cold-Hearted House Spending Bill
The House of Representatives is scheduled to vote later today or tomorrow on the Continuing Resolution to fund the Federal Government for the rest of the 2011 fiscal year, and House Republicans are trying to use their majority status to fulfill a campaign promise to cut the budget by $100 billion. It is unlikely that these budget recommendations would pass in the Senate, and President Obama has promised to veto any legislation that “…undermines critical priorities or national security through funding levels or restrictions.” In spite of this, the House voted 239-187 in favor of an amendment offered by Rep. Denny Rehberg (R-MT) to block Congressional funding for implementation of the health care reform law. A tally of the vote on the Rehberg Amendment will be available in next week’s Friday Alert.
In response to major cuts to the Social Security Administration proposed by House Republicans, Edward F.Coyle, Executive Director of the Alliance, said, “We are outraged by the cold-hearted ways in which House Republicans are trying to lower the budget deficit on the backs of seniors, persons with disabilities, and young survivors.” He continued, “Their plan would create massive furloughs – shutting down the entire agency for 20 working days. This would be devastating for the people in our country who are most in need. Phones and offices would be shut down, leaving current recipients who have questions or concerns unable to get the help they need.” To see Mr. Coyle’s full statement, go to http://bit.ly/fPkhxB. Next week, during the President’s Day congressional recess, Alliance members will be meeting with their elected officials to remind them of the pressing needs of retirees in their local communities.
Wisc. Retirees Stand Up for Public Employee Rights, Reject Gov. Walker’s Proposal
The Wisconsin Alliance, which represents over 100,000 retirees, joined tens of thousands of workers, students and Wisconsin residents in protests, sit-ins, and rallies - both at the Madison capitol and statewide - to protect their rights, benefits and working conditions this week.
Under Governor Scott Walker’s (R) plan, state employees’ share of pension and health care costs would go up by an average of 8% (Appleton Post Crescent). Among those speaking out to protect their collective bargaining rights were retired teachers and public employees, who are well-aware that Walker’s budget bill would remove what they have earned over several decades. Wisconsin Alliance President Leon Burzynski said in a statement Wednesday, “Since the 1930’s, Wisconsin has had a great tradition of allowing public sector workers a voice on the job. Now, the Governor wants to take away that right abruptly…some politicians, including the Governor, are using their political power to take away workers’ rights and force cuts that will devastate Wisconsin’s weakened economy.”
The Wisconsin State Senate was scheduled to vote on the unpopular measure on Thursday. However, the vote could not take place, because the Democrats of the Senate were not present. In a move to show that they stand united with the thousands of protestors who have gathered at the State Capitol, the Democratic members of the Senate left the state capitol before the vote. In the Senate, a quorum can only be reached if there are 20 Senators present, and there are only 19 Republicans.
The Wisconsin Alliance made 30,000 phone calls expressing concern that the budget proposal jeopardizes vital services for families and retirees in the state. Photos of the Wisconsin Alliance in action on Tuesday in Madison are available at http://bit.ly/e0lSP3.
Retirees and working families in Ohio have been rallying this week against similar legislation from Gov. John Kasich (R). “Our members rely on the services that these state workers provide. But our members also care about younger people and today’s workers. From their own experiences, Alliance members know how a union voice helped them build the middle class in their local communities,” said Ms. Easterling.
Valentine’s Day Events: New Hampshire, Nevada
For Valentine’s Day, New Hampshire Alliance members addressed post cards to Members of Congress, with the message that “they care” - about protecting Social Security and Medicare! Nevada Alliance members took part in a Valentine’s Day state workers press conference in Carson City, urging that Nevada ensure critical services to the most vulnerable populations.
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