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Alliance for Retired Americans Friday Alert Nov 4, 2011

Washington Post Misleads Seniors on Social Security
The Washington Post published a Halloween-Eve front page "Prediction of Doom" feature piece riddled with misleading statements and inaccuracies about Social Security and its financial footing [http://wapo.st/tuG2Jy].  The 12-member panel is less than a month away from its deadline for finding at least $1.2 trillion in deficit reduction, but it’s said to be looking for closer to $4 trillion. "The timing was particularly bad, because we’re in the homestretch of the Super Committee negotiations," said Edward F. Coyle, Executive Director of the Alliance. In a letter to the editor, Mr. Coyle wrote, "Your October 30 feature 'The debt fallout: How Social Security went 'cash negative' earlier than expected' not only contained misleading information about Social Security, but falsely connects the program to the federal budget deficit...(There) is enough money to fully pay benefits through 2036, and if we were to require millionaires to pay the same proportion of Social Security taxes as middle class workers, the Trust Fund would be sound well toward the end of this century." The group Media Matters posted a thorough debunking of the Washington Post story at http://bit.ly/uPVLDu.

Super Committee Taking Hard Look at Social Security, Medicare Cuts
Politico reports that the Super Committee, charged with drastically reducing the nation’s budget deficit, is taking a serious look at Social Security and Medicare. On Tuesday, former Sen. Alan Simpson (R-Wyo.) and former White House Chief of Staff Erskine Bowles, as well as founding Director of the Congressional Budget Office Alice Rivlin and former Senate Budget Chairman Pete Domenici (R-N.M.) testified at a public hearing before the Committee about their two sweeping bipartisan budget plans. The Simpson-Bowles and Rivlin-Domenici frameworks contain major Social Security and Medicare cuts in addition to tax code overhauls.

Mr. Bowles, the co-chairman of President Obama's fiscal commission, offered a range of possible Medicare cuts, from policies like provider cuts to highly charged proposals such as a public insurance option. "I don’t know why in the world you wouldn’t have Medicare negotiate" prescription drug prices, Bowles said, while also calling for aggressive tort reform. In addition, he said he would support raising the Medicare eligibility age, which the fiscal commission did not recommend. Bowles proposes saving $200 billion by using a less generous formula – the Chained CPI (Consumer Price Index) - to calculate cost-of-living adjustments in Social Security. To see how such a plan would hurt seniors, go to http://bit.ly/skmv0w.
Dr. Rivlin and former Sen. Domenici presented the Committee with a new model for Medicare "premium support." Their proposal would give seniors a choice to either take their Medicare benefits in the form of a voucher for private insurance or remain in the existing program. However, Congressional Democrats strongly resisted earlier proposals to convert Medicare entirely into a premium-support system. Democratic Super Committee members also raised questions about Rivlin and Domenici’s new plan.

"All four witnesses have a track record of being willing to cut senior programs severely," said Ruben Burks, Secretary-Treasurer of the Alliance.

The Alliance’s Halloween: Spotlighting Politicians’ Tricks & Treats
Since Arizona Senator Jon Kyl (R-AZ) is a member of the Super Committee, Arizona Alliance members dressed up for Halloween to protest possible cuts in Social Security and Medicare. To see the photos, go to http://bit.ly/vq1Id1.

Mr. Coyle joined Rep. Shelley Berkley (D-NV) and two Nevada seniors on a conference call with reporters on Wednesday to highlight the anti-senior voting record of U.S. Senator Dean Heller (R-NV) on Social Security and Medicare.  Coyle said, "Sen. Heller says that he is a friend of seniors, but his voting record says otherwise. Dean Heller voted against a one-time $250 payment to help seniors. $250 may be just dinner and drinks for Dean Heller's Wall Street donors, but to seniors in Nevada and across the country, it would have made a real difference.

Both the Iowa and South Carolina Alliance chapters will have held educational forums for seniors on national and state issues by the end of this week. The Iowa Alliance joined the group "Know Your Care" on Wednesday in Des Moines for a public forum on strengthening Social Security and Medicare. South Carolina Alliance members will be gathering in Myrtle Beach tomorrow for a forum that will encompass Social Security, Medicare, debt reduction, the Super Committee recommendations, Medicaid, financial security for seniors in a volatile market, identity theft, and senior scams. Richard Fiesta, Director of the Department of Government and Political Affairs for the Alliance, spoke at the Vermont Alliance convention last Saturday.

Retirees Support “Occupy Cleveland”
A video shows Ohio Alliance members, led by Wynne Antonio and John Gallo, visiting with "Occupy Cleveland" protesters, sharing their lessons from lifelong activism and offering their support and encouragement.  To view it, go to http://bit.ly/tAYZ3F. Alliance President Barbara J. Easterling - an Ohio native - said of the video, "What a great show of inter-generational activism this event was. Retirees know firsthand how Wall Street greed and gambling has devastated retirement savings for millions of Americans.  We can never let Wall Street get their hands on a privatized Social Security system."

Obama to Speed up Production of Life-Saving Drugs
On Monday, President Obama signed an Executive Order that will help prevent shortages that lead to prescription drug price gouging and direct the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to investigate illegal price gouging. Drug shortages drive vendors to charge outrageous prices for drugs - one report found that price-gouging vendors mark up prices on drugs in short supply by 650 percent on average. The Executive Order directs the FDA to expand reporting about situations that might lead to drug shortages, and also to work with the Department of Justice to investigate illegal price gouging.

Editor’s Note: Due to Veterans Day, the next Friday Alert will be published on Thursday, November 10, 2011.
Download a printable version of this document at http://bit.ly/sVg481.

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