"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
Top Democrats Reject Coburn-Lieberman Plan to Cut Medicare
July 01, 2011
According to The Washington Post, leading congressional Democrats “immediately recoiled” Tuesday from a new proposal to cut $600 billion in Medicare spending over the next decade — in part by raising the eligibility age. Sens. Joseph Lieberman (I-CT) and Tom Coburn (R-OK) unveiled the proposal as part of a bipartisan effort to produce the kind of savings necessary to achieve the $2 trillion in debt reduction both parties say is needed to convince lawmakers to vote to raise the debt ceiling. The senators’ plan would raise Medicare’s eligibility age from 65 to 67 and assess higher premiums on wealthier seniors. Democrats say that no deal on the debt limit is possible without an agreement to close tax loopholes that benefit the wealthy, including subsidies for major oil companies and a tax break provided to companies that buy private jets. They have promised they will not trim benefits to Medicare beneficiaries, “a point underscored by their chilly reception of the plan advanced by Lieberman and Coburn.” The two senators conceded that their plan would be unpopular. Democratic rejection of the proposal was swift. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) termed it “a bad idea.” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) called it “unacceptable.” Economists and credit rating agencies have warned that financial markets may grow turbulent if an agreement to raise the debt limit is not reached soon.
Chief Actuary Sheds Light On Privatization Debate
Chief Actuary for the Social Security Administration Stephen Goss was called upon last week to discuss “The Savings Account for Every American Act,” (H.R. 2019), a House Resolution introduced by Rep. Pete Sessions (R-TX) that would privatize Social Security by allowing workers to opt out of the FICA tax. Mr. Goss’s analysis showed that the proposed legislation would reduce Social Security’s revenue stream drastically, severely damaging the program’s ability to pay current and soon-to-be beneficiaries. Furthermore, Goss warned, should workers be allowed to opt out of the FICA tax, the Social Security Trust Fund would be depleted far earlier than the current 2036 projection. In response to the bill, Ruben Burks, Secretary-Treasurer of the Alliance, stated, “Rep. Sessions’ proposal is no better than previous attempts to cut Social Security.” Recently, the bill was referred to the House Committee on Ways and Means for further analysis and debate.
Appeals Court Upholds Key Affordable Care Act Provision
Despite opposition, the Obama administration continues to receive positive legal and statistical feedback of the health reform law. On Wednesday, a three-judge panel from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit ruled that the individual mandate to buy health insurance is constitutional. The decision was not based on party lines, as a Republican-appointed judge teamed-up with a Democrat to write the majority opinion. The judges clarified that Congress does have a ‘rational basis’ to regulate the health insurance market because of its undeniable effects on interstate commerce. “My hope is that the legal legitimacy gained from this ruling will help to silence the critics and expedite the law’s implementation process,” said Barbara J. Easterling, President of the Alliance. Two more appellate courts around the country are set to rule on this issue, but many legal scholars believe the Supreme Court will ultimately decide this case. The Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services announced on Tuesday that close to half a million Medicare beneficiaries have saved a combined $260 million on their prescription medications due to the Affordable Care Act.
State Round-up: Alliance Events in Ohio, New York, Illinois, and Iowa
Hundreds of Hoover Co. retirees crowded into a senior center last Thursday, expressing concern and outrage that they will have to pay significantly more for health care. Appliance manufacturer Whirlpool Corp., which owned the former North Canton-based Hoover before selling off the brand in 2007, told retirees last month that it plans to cut back on retiree health care benefits, with the changes taking effect in 2013. Allen Schulman, a lawyer and Canton City Council member, told the retirees at the Mayfield Senior Center that his firm wants to represent retirees in an action against Whirlpool Corp., which assumed the Hoover obligations. For photos, go to http://bit.ly/l0V9OL.
As negotiations over the federal debt ceiling go down to the wire, a coalition of New York organizations announced plans to mobilize their supporters this summer. They are holding their state’s members of Congress accountable for attacks on Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security and domestic programs while preserving tax cuts for corporations and the rich, but not creating jobs. This past Wednesday, New York State Alliance (NYSARA) President Dennis Tracey represented New York Alliance members on a press conference call that kicked off the “Restoring the American Promise” campaign statewide. The coalition includes, among other groups, NYSARA; the New York State AFL-CIO; and 1199 SEIU, Fight for a Fair Economy. The campaign plans to attend Congressional town halls and rallies and operate a statewide caravan, among other actions. Also on Wednesday, President Easterling addressed approximately 300 National Education Association retirees at their annual meeting in Chicago. Next door in Iowa, members of the Iowa Alliance and the Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement held an event that same day highlighting the importance of Social Security, as well as Medicare and Medicaid, to veterans. Rep. Leonard Boswell (D-IA), himself a veteran, emceed and spoke at the Des Moines event.
Rep. Wasserman Schultz to Speak at Alliance Convention in September
Help us mark our 10-year Anniversary at our upcoming Legislative Conference, Celebrating Our Past, Fighting for Your Future, on September 6 - 9, 2011 in Washington, D.C.! Information and registration forms were mailed last month. You may also register online at http://bit.ly/hQro1V. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) has been added to the program as a speaker. Questions? Please contact Event Coordinator Joni Jones at email@example.com or 202-637-5377.
Alliance Staffer Mary Johnson Retires After More than a Decade of Service
This week, Mary Johnson of the Alliance’s DC headquarters retired from the position of Senior Field Support for Communications and Training, Department of Field Mobilization. “Mary Johnson has provided boundless energy, enthusiasm and commitment to the growth of local and state Alliance chapters,” said Edward F. Coyle, Executive Director of the Alliance. “We wish her the best as she embarks on this next phase of her life.” On Monday, the Executive Board of the Alliance formally recognized Ms. Johnson for the many ways she has helped build and grow a progressive, grassroots retiree movement.
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