Friday Alert, September 2, 2011 edition
As Super Committee Gets Set to Tackle the Nation’s Debt…
According to Politico, Republican members of the deficit-slashing Super Committee are meeting on Capitol Hill to hash out their own strategy ahead of the panel’s first official meetings after Labor Day, preparing for an intense fall push to cut $1.5 trillion from the deficit. The committee also named its staff director on Tuesday, choosing Mark Prater, a 20-year veteran of the Senate Finance Committee. Prater is currently the chief tax counsel for Senate Republicans on the panel. The choice of Prater needed to be approved by the two super committee co-chairs, Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-TX) and Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA). The full 12-member Super Committee is required to meet by Sept. 16. A new Kaiser Family Foundation brief examines the potential impact of the Budget Control Act of 2011 that created the committee; the process it creates for reducing the federal deficit over the next decade; and how it could affect the Medicare program, health plans and providers, and the program’s beneficiaries. The brief is available at http://bit.ly/pWaVYh.
…Sen. Bernie Sanders Moves to Protect Social Security from Budget Slashers
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) said last week that he will introduce legislation that would expand the reach of the payroll tax, as part of an effort to give further support to Social Security. According to The Hill, Sanders is proposing to make individual income higher than $250,000 per year subject to the payroll tax — an idea he says he is lifting from President Obama’s 2008 campaign for the White House. As it stands, the payroll tax, which funds Social Security, applies to the first $106,800 of annual income; the Sanders bill would not impose the payroll tax on income between that level and $250,000. In a recent news release, the senator said he was also worried that the new Super Committee tasked with finding additional ways to reduce the deficit will try to find savings through cuts to Social Security. One method that has already been discussed would involve switching to the so-called “chained CPI,” an alternate form of inflation that would lead to a slower increase in Social Security benefits. “Social Security did not cause federal budget deficits, and should not be part of the Super Committee’s solution to the debt problem,” said Barbara J. Easterling, President of the Alliance. According to Sanders’ office, the chief actuary for Social Security says the senator’s proposal to make the payroll tax applicable at higher income levels would create enough new revenue to keep the program solvent for the next 75 years.
Successful Senior Summer!
The Alliance is wrapping up more than 70 actions in more than two dozen states around the country this summer as Labor Day approaches. The events have ranged from celebrating the anniversaries and successes of Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid to holding presidential candidates accountable as they campaign. Last Friday, Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI) took his Congressional Series for Seniors to North Providence, Rhode Island, where Alliance State President John Pernorio presented him with a Social Security & Medicare Hero’s Award. On August 24, Missouri Alliance members and their friends gathered outside Rep. Todd Akin’s (R-MO) St. Louis office to demand he not balance the U.S. budget on the backs of children, retirees and the middle class.
This past Wednesday, Rep. Kathy Castor (D-FL) was a guest speaker at the Florida Alliance's Quarterly Executive Board Meeting in Tampa. In Scottsdale, Arizona on Wednesday, Alliance members rallied outside Rep. David Schweikert's (R) mobile office to show their support for Medicare and Social Security. The next day, Arizona Alliance members attended a listening session with Rep. Schweikert in Fountain Hills, Arizona and joined like-minded organizations for a rally outside Senator and Super Committee member Jon Kyl's (R-AZ) Tucson office.
Social Security Administration Report Makes the Program’s Importance Clear
Social Security is the most significant source of income for Americans age 65 and older, and its importance has continued to grow over time, according to a recent Social Security Administration (SSA) report. Social Security made up 38% of the total income of people age 65 and older in 2009—up from 30% in 1962—and is the largest of any type of retirement income. According to U.S. News and World Report, “only a fortunate minority” of Americans have significant sources of retirement income other than Social Security. Social Security made up half or more of the retirement income of 66% of Americans age 65 and older in 2009, up from 64% in 2008. And more than a third of retirees (35%) receive 90% or more of their income as a monthly payment from SSA. While Social Security makes up a large share of the typical retiree's income, the amount they are paid is actually fairly small. The average monthly payout to retired workers was $1,176 in 2010. For more statistics and a link to the report itself, go to http://bit.ly/qzOouz.
Texas Alliance President Shane Fox, 1939 - 2011
Shane Fox, president of the Texas Alliance, died on August 25 after a long, courageous battle with cancer. Shane was an integral part of the growth of the Alliance. He served on the national board, first as a community-based representative and then for two years as an appointee of President Easterling. He was also a tireless advocate for the development of the Texas Alliance and served on both the communications committee and a futures committee that completed its work this past June. “I have been privileged to know and work with Shane for the past 8 years. He was a dedicated activist who earned the respect and love of everyone he touched,” said Edward F. Coyle, Executive Director of the Alliance. “In keeping with his endless enthusiasm for the advocacy work he loved, he has asked that contributions in his memory be sent to the Texas Alliance for Retired Americans.”
Alliance’s Legislative Conference Comes as Super Committee Begins its Work
Be sure to join us at the Alliance’s 10th anniversary Legislative Conference, Celebrating Our Past, Fighting for Your Future, on September 6-9, 2011 in Washington, D.C. Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ) has been added as a speaker. Other confirmed speakers include: Grammy winning singer and social activist Judy Collins; U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT); U.S. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA); U.S. Rep. and Super Committee member Xavier Becerra (D-CA). To see more speakers, to register, or if you have any questions, please call Event Coordinator Joni Jones at 202-637-5377 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. On the web, visit http://bit.ly/pjVbXy or http://bit.ly/hQro1V. “Alliance members will be coming into town at a crucial time for protecting Social Security and Medicare – just as the Super Committee work kicks off,” said Ruben Burks, Secretary-Treasurer of the Alliance.