Saturday, July 30, 2011

Friday Alert

Reid Plan Would Address Debt Ceiling without Affecting Medicare, Social Security

Without signed legislation to raise the national debt limit by August 2, the Treasury will not have enough funds to pay the nation’s bills. Administration officials have warned of potentially calamitous effects on the economy if that happens - a spike in interest rates, a plunge in stock markets and a tightening in the job market. Without a higher debt limit, “the choices would be agonizing,” according to AP. The Bipartisan Policy Center says that if the government kept paying for health care programs, Social Security, unemployment benefits and defense contracts and met interest payments on its debt in August, it would have no money left for anything else. Civil servants and troops would go unpaid. Veterans would lose benefits. IRS refund checks would go unmailed. The Justice Department would have to scale back its pursuit of criminals.

A House Republican bill providing an immediate debt limit increase of $900 billion, which is less than half of the total needed to meet President Obama's insistence that there be no replay of the current crisis in just a few short months, is stalled. While the White House and Democrats objected to the House bill, they readied an alternative that contained similarities. Drafted by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), it will reduce the deficit by $2.7 trillion, without affecting Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security and without changes to revenues. “Just since Monday, Alliance members have sent more than 10,000 e-mail messages to their U.S. Representatives and Senators, saying that cutting Social Security in the name of debt reduction is a bad idea,” said Barbara J. Easterling, President of the Alliance. “I am confident that many Members of Congress have taken our side’s point of view into account. Thank you to all of you who have taken action during this precarious time in our nation’s history.” To call Congress over the weekend and reiterate the message of “Don’t cut Social Security in the name of debt reduction,” dial 202-224-3121.

Alliance Medicare Birthday Events Bring Attention to the Program at the Right Time
Medicare’s 46th birthday is tomorrow, and the Alliance began commemorating the anniversary with more than 30 events across the country earlier this month. U.S. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) was joined by Alliance members Sam Burnett of Toledo, Ohio and Brenda Kelley-Nelum from Woodbridge, Virginia at one birthday event devoted to protecting Medicare on Wednesday, on Capitol Hill. Leader Pelosi spoke of the debt ceiling at the event. “Senator Reid, the Leader in the United States Senate of the Democrats, put forward the responsible plan to reduce the deficit that protects the middle class, and Medicare, Social Security and Medicaid beneficiaries,” she said. To see C-SPAN footage of the event, go to

Earlier this month, in San Diego, more than 150 people participated in a town hall on Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid sponsored by the Alliance on July 19.  The standing-room-only crowd heard from advocates and experts on the programs. To read more, go to In other events, the Rhode Island Alliance presented U.S. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse with its Social Security & Medicare Hero Award. Also, the New York State caravans to “Restore the American Promises” this month ended a two-day, eight-city tour at Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt’s Hyde Park home. The actors portraying the pair spoke of the New Deal and warned against the raw deal Washington lawmakers are pushing for Social security, Medicare and Medicaid.

This past Monday, the Arizona Alliance ate cake at a retirement home in Chandler, Arizona while learning what is happening with Medicare in Washington. In St. Pete, Florida on Wednesday, seniors commemorated the Medicare birthday by singing karaoke! In Hartford, Connecticut today, Alliance members are recognizing Rep. John Larson for his advocacy on behalf of seniors. The Connecticut Alliance also presented an award to Reps. Chris Murphy and Jim Himes. The Pennsylvania, Georgia, and Washington Alliance chapters will be holding Medicare events in Pittsburgh, Savannah, and Seattle tomorrow, on the actual anniversary date. For more details, go to For a write-up of the Illinois Alliance’s Medicare event in Peoria last Friday, go to  To read about the Iowa Alliance’s July 21 event in Waterloo, go to For an Albuquerque, New Mexico Alliance video, go to Additional events have already taken place in cities including Scottsdale, AZ; Bakersfield, Rancho Cordova, and Stockton, CA; Delray Beach, FL; Chicago, IL; Manchester and Nashua, NH; Las Cruces, NM; Las Vegas, NV, Cincinnati, OH; and San Antonio, League, and Grand Prairie, TX. “Thank you to all who are drawing attention to the importance of Medicare while it is under attack, during the debt negotiations,” said Ruben Burks, Secretary-Treasurer of the Alliance.

Rallies in Baltimore, DC and State Capitals across the Country 
In Baltimore, Maryland on Monday, Maryland-DC Alliance members joined other activists in gathering outside the Social Security Administration to send elected officials a loud and clear message: Don’t cut Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid. Activists rallied on the U.S. Capitol steps on Thursday to keep the pressure on Republicans and tell Democrats to stand strong against the GOP's call for cuts to the three vital programs. Thursday was also a day for rallies and pickets in Capitol buildings across the U.S. to protect Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.

Alliance’s September Legislative Conference is Fast Approaching
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.! Confirmed speakers include: Grammy winning singer and social activist Judy Collins; U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT); DNC Chair and Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL); and Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius. Workshops include the latest Medicare information and Building Coalition Partners. 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 On the web, visit or

Obituary: John Carr, Champion for Workers and Seniors
John Carr, one of the Alliance leaders in Maine for many years and a defender of senior rights, died on Monday, July 25.  John will be remembered by all his brothers and sisters in Maine for his lifetime commitment to the labor movement. “I know you join me in sending our best wishes and thoughts and prayers to John’s family,” said Edward F. Coyle, Executive Director of the Alliance. John was a retired member of IBEW as well as a champion for workers rights and economic justice.
Source: Alliance for Retired Americans (ARA)

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Pay Your Stinking Bills

Republicans in Congress:

Pay the stinking bills you bunch of welcher crooks. What a bunch of whining cry babies. You're making the whole country look stupid.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Teachers Need Our Help

Unions United for a
Better and Fairer Tomorrow

First they destroyed our jobs in manufacturing and the mills. Then the big LaSalle St. banks and the rich financial operators ran our economy in the ditch. Now they want to blame the crisis on teachers and other public workers. Hard working teachers and their unions are not to blame for the ills of education.

Join Us!  
We need to rally our unions and our community to fight for education and a better future for our children. This is not a deficit crisis; it’s a jobs crisis. We need the rich and the corporations to pay their fair share so we can invest in our schools and neighborhoods for a better tomorrow. We need to rally around the Chicago Teachers Union and allied unions in education.

Speakers: Karen Lewis, President CTU, Ed Sadlowski, AFSCME Council 40, Jeff Zupan, IBEW,  WTDY MADISON WISC, SLY IN THE MORNING
For more information or questions:
Susan & Raul Garza – 773-322-2679 or 773-415-4315
10654 ave G Chicago Il 60617

3:30 AUGUST 31st 2011

SOAR Newsletter

Brothers and Sisters,

Each month, SOAR publishes a newsletter which is mailed to each chapter president and coordinator, the SOAR executive board and the USW executive board.
You can find a link for viewing or downloading this months edition at the following web page:

Links to past issues are placed on the Steelworkers web site and can be seen here:

Monday, July 25, 2011

Now is the Time

It's time that Republicans get off of their duffs and quit lollygagging about the debt ceiling. They are refusing to allow the country's debt ceiling be raised so that the country can continue to pay its bills. They insist that cuts to programs which benefit the least of us be made but at the same time refuse to insist that companies that pay no taxes whatsoever pay their fair share.
Republicans continue to walk out of negotiations when they can't have it their way. If your congress person is a Republican, please give that person a piece of your mind.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Republicans, Quit Acting Like NIPSCO

Where do the Republicans get off on wanting everything their way when it comes to raising the debt limit and walking out of negotiating with the other side. Are they getting their directions from NIPSCO?

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Check on Your Neighbor

Weather in Northern Indiana is heading for 97 degress today and humid.
The elderly, homebound or disabled are certainly in jeopardy.
Please phone them or look in on them to make sure they are ok.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Bird Bath Trick

We love to care for and watch the birds at Bass Lake. We have a bird bath for them which we take care to keep full of fresh water throughout the year.

It used to be a pain to keep the thing clear with wire brushing it ever so often but a couple years ago I tried this trick. I put about a one foot length of copper tubing on the bottom which somehow seems to keep it really clean.

Give it a try. I haven't had to wire brush it since placing that tubing in our bird bath.

Monday, July 11, 2011

National Call Congress Days

Your Social Security benefits are under attack by politicians in Washington. They want to:

  • Cut Social Security’s Cost-of-Living Adjustment (COLA) to reduce the deficit. But Social Security doesn’t contribute a penny to the deficit.
  • Raid Social Security by using your contributions to give a tax break to Wall Street banks, Big Oil and other corporations.
They shouldn’t get another taxpayer handout. Social Security belongs to you. You pay for it in every paycheck. Don’t let them cut it or raid it!

Call your Senators on Thursday and Friday, July 14-15, at 1-866-251-4044.

Tell them:

NO cuts to Social Security!
NO cuts to Social Security’s COLA!
NO Social Security payroll tax holiday!

Source: Alliance for Retired Americans

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Try Taking the Train

Slow and Easy:

After a lifetime of work, retirement is the time to enjoy your family and really live out your dreams. Whether by enjoying hobbies, volunteer work, traveling or whatever else interests you.

Those who travel can take a cruise, travel by air, bus or car. The method Elaine and I prefer ....whenever possible..... is by train.......Our travel is usually from Northern Indiana to Pittsburgh or Washington D.C. and we’re able to catch the train in South Bend, Indiana at about 8:30 in the evening......and after a good nights sleep, we arrive in Pittsburgh at about 4:30 the following morning........ fortunately, the hotels allow for early check in.

When traveling to Washington, we depart South ‘bend at 8:30 in the evening and arrive in Washington the following day a little after lunch. We could fly it, but we’d rather not have to go through the hassle. We could drive it but we think it’s really dangerous on the turnpikes and toll roads and we never know what the road conditions or traffic is going to be like.

No.....we’ll stick to the train. Elaine brings those blow up neck pillows for each of us along with eye masks and ear plugs. The best part of our train trip is the food. Elaine always brings a little wine.....some crackers, cheese and cookies. She also brings some cereal for the following morning. We could eat our meals in the dining car, but for such a short journey, we think it’s more fun to bring our own.  
Another part of train travel we enjoy is the people. We take cards and it’s easy on the train to find someone to play with and if not, the people are just great. So nice and friendly.......When we first started traveling by train, we wondered why more people didn’t choose that form of travel. Today though, the trains are pretty full. I don’t know if it’s the downturn in the economy or just that more people are realizing how really nice it is. That’s why we reserve our seats as soon as we know the dates we want to travel.

The towns you pass are so interesting on the train and we have gone back to visit some of them. Harper’s Ferry, West Virginia is one such town. Each time the train stopped there, we would agree that some day we wanted to visit. So the next time we went to Washington, we drove and stayed in Harper’s Ferry for a couple days.

That’s what I like most about retirement. When the opportunity presents itself to see or do something interesting or can do it.

We retired at the age of 55 and have never regretted that decision. Thank God we had the Steelworkers union to negotiated such a good benefit.

The next time to travel..........consider the train for a fun journey.

Friday, July 08, 2011

Friday Alert

July 8, 2011 edition

Debt Ceiling Talks Focus on Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid Cuts
President Obama is pressing congressional leaders “to consider a far-reaching debt-reduction plan that would force Democrats to accept major changes to Social Security and Medicare in exchange for Republican support for fresh tax revenue,” The Washington Post reported on Thursday. Unless Congress acts before August 2 to raise the $14.3 trillion ceiling on the amount the government can borrow, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner has said the U.S. will begin to default on its obligations for the first time in history.

According to ABC News (, President Obama and House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) have been discussing a grand bargain to cut some $4 trillion in projected budget deficits over the next 10 to 12 years. There is no deal yet, but the ideas under consideration include reductions in spending on Social Security and Medicare, as well as Medicaid.  Among the spending reductions the president and the speaker have discussed is reducing the annual Cost-of-Living Adjustment (COLA) for Social Security, as well as increasing the level of income subject to the Social Security FICA tax (the tax currently applies to an individual’s first $106,800 of income). Senate Democrats reacted angrily after reading about Obama’s offer in the press. House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (CA) emphasized that House members from her party do not support cutting Social Security and Medicare benefits.

“It would be terribly hurtful – as well as contradictory to prior White House statements – to try to balance the budget on the backs of current and future retirees.  Lowering the COLA would be devastating for millions of retirees,” said Edward F. Coyle, Executive Director of the Alliance. “According to Social Security’s Chief Actuary, a 75-year-old retiree’s benefits would be cut by $560 per year, while an 85-year-old would have an annual cut of $984,” he continued.  To see Mr. Coyle’s full statement, go to Richard Fiesta, Director of the Department of Government and Political Affairs for the Alliance, made similar points on a Friday tele-conference call with reporters, Sens. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and the Strengthen Social Security coalition, which includes other senior advocacy groups.

What You Can Do: Contact the White House
The Social Security COLA helps your benefits keep pace with inflation. The current COLA is already too low because it does not account for rising health care costs, which hurt seniors and people with disabilities the most.  Now they want to make it even lower. Under the proposal, after 10 years the average benefit will be cut by about $600 a year. After 20 years the cut will be about $1,000 a year. The typical Social Security benefit is only $13,000 a year. Tell the President all of this by sending an e-mail directly to the White House: “The time to act is now,” said Barbara J. Easterling, President of the Alliance. “We need all seniors and their friends to contact the White House right away.”

‘Chained’ CPI Targets Middle and Lower-Income Workers
A senior White House official said on Thursday that while Social Security is not a driver of the deficit, “it does need to be strengthened.” A Huffington Post article ( noted that the idea of “strengthening” is vague. Last week, numerous consumer advocacy groups expressed concern over news that lawmakers were considering changes to the way the government calculates the rate of growth for benefits people receive. Four senior congressional aides said lawmakers are discussing using an alternative yardstick, known as the “chained consumer price index,” to gauge inflation, determining COLAs for millions of Americans. The “chained” CPI is an alternative Bureau of Labor Statistics index that shows a lower inflation rate than the standard calculation. According to a Joint Committee on Taxation report (, a “Chained” CPI would disproportionately affect middle and lower-income Americans. The Chief Actuary estimates that the reduced COLA would result in a decrease of about $130 a year (0.9 percent) in annual benefits for a typical 65-year-old.  Because the cut grows every year relative to scheduled benefits, by the time that senior is 95, the annual benefit cut will be almost $1,400 (9.2 percent). Social Security’s oldest beneficiaries, mostly women who have outlived their non-Social Security sources of income, are significantly poorer than younger beneficiaries and rely on Social Security more. To see the Alliance’s one-pager on the Chained CPI, go to

New York Times Elaborates on Proposed Medicare, Medicaid Cuts
In addition to Social Security cuts, the Obama administration has offered to cut tens of billions of dollars from Medicare and Medicaid. The extent of the cuts will depend on the Republicans’ willingness to create more revenue via tax increases. Some proposals being seriously considered would reduce Medicare payments to training hospitals and reduce the federal share of payments to Medicaid, according to The New York Times. Nothing is official, as negotiations are still underway.

Ohio Alliance Hosts Roundtable Discussion on Health Care
Last Thursday, the Ohio Alliance hosted a roundtable discussion on Medicare benefits in the Affordable Care Act with Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, in Cincinnati. The event was well-received, gathering approximately 65 attendees of all ages. Much of the discussion focused on the increased coverage of preventive services that attendees felt would drastically improve their health and the program’s fiscal situation. “These educational programs go a long way towards enlightening and empowering consumers of their rights and responsibilities,” said Ruben Burks, Secretary-Treasurer of the Alliance. Former Cincinnati mayor Dwight Tillery was also in attendance to offer his support for, and insights into, the Affordable Care Act.

Sen. Bernie Sanders, Randi Weingarten to Speak at Alliance Convention
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 in May. You may also register online at Sen. Sanders and Randi Weingarten, President of the American Federation of Teachers, are scheduled to speak. Any questions, please contact Event Coordinator Joni Jones at 202-637-5377 or, or else visit

Download a printable version of this document at

Source: Alliance for Retired Americans

Thursday, July 07, 2011

Retiree Leader Reacts to Possible Social Security Cuts

For Immediate Release                                                                                                                                 Contact: David Blank (202) 637-5275
July 7, 2011                                                                                                                                             


Retiree Leader Reacts to Possible Social Security Cuts

Would be Devastating for Millions of Seniors, Coyle Says

The following statement was issued today by Edward F. Coyle, Executive Director of the Alliance for Retired Americans:

“Retirees are deeply concerned by media accounts that the White House is considering cuts in Social Security as part of the ongoing debt ceiling negotiations with Congress.  The Alliance for Retired Americans would strongly oppose such a move.

“More specifically, we are troubled by an idea being floated in Washington to change a federal statistical formula to lower Cost-of-Living Adjustments (COLAs) for Social Security.  As the administration and Republican leaders have previously said, Social Security does not contribute to the budget deficit.  It would be terribly hurtful – as well as contradictory to prior White House statements – to try to balance the budget on the backs of current and future retirees.  Lowering the COLA would be devastating for millions of retirees.  According to the program’s Chief Actuary, a 75-year-old retiree’s benefits would be cut by $560 per year, while an 85-year-old would have an annual cut of $984.

“Today’s seniors want to lower the budget deficit.  They do not want a large debt to be the legacy they leave behind to their children and grandchildren.  But the fact is that Social Security has not added one penny to our deficit and has no place in any debt ceiling negotiations.

“We are deeply grateful for the clear, unequivocal stances of Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi.  They recognize that Social Security is one of America’s greatest success stories and must remain strong for generations to come.”

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Casey Was Not Found Innocent

The jury didn't proclaim Casey Anthony innocent of murder. They proclaimed that the evidence submitted did not prove it. That's the job of a jury.

My experience serving on murder trials as a juror is that there is more to any case than meets the eye of what the public is privy to. I think our legal system, although not perfect, is the best possible under our laws.

The only suggestion I could make to possibly make it even better would be to have "professional jurors."

On one case I was on, one of the jurors said the person was guilty. She just knew it and when asked of what evidence convinced her, she said it was "womens intuition."

On another case, one of the jurors said he would vote either way as he wanted to simply go home to his girl friend.

Monday, July 04, 2011

No More Love Letters In Indiana?

After high school, I went into the U.S. Navy for four years. While in the South Pacific, my high school sweet heart and now wife of 46 years and I wrote back and forth making our hearts grow fonder.

I've often said that the most valuable course I ever took in high school was typing but what in the world will happen in the next twenty years to the love letter with Indiana teachers no longer required to  teach cursive hand writing?

Gosh, you can't put perfume on a text message or email message. What a shame.

A year ago I made a resolution to write a letter each week. At first, I tried a ball point pen, but didn't like the feel of it. Then I bought a fountain pen, but the nib left a line too fat for my liking. I finally bought a scratch or dip pen like we used in school.

Although I haven't kept my resolution, I do love to scratch out a letter now and then. Now, do you think someone who is home bound or in a nursing home would rather receive an email message or would he rather receive an envelope that he can open, remove a folded piece of paper, and read a hand written letter?

There is something about a hand written letter that allows a person to put more feeling into the communication then with type written letters.

Oh well, time marches on, I guess. But thanks to my State Senator, Ed Charbonneau who is responsible for taking bargaining rights away from our Indiana teachers when it comes to anything other than wages and wage related benefits, teachers won't be able to make any improvements in our children's education, not contractually anyway.

Saturday, July 02, 2011

We Need Your Help

We all know the important role that SOAR plays in protecting and enhancing the quality of life for our retirees. With the political climate in our two countries today, the SOAR Executive Board believes nothing is more important to our retired members than having a strong voice to represent their interests.

Right-wing extremists and radical special-interest groups have been leading a cruel and brutal campaign to erode or eliminate the social programs that our retired members depend on and deserve. Essential programs like Social Security and Medicare have been under constant assault in the United States. In Canada our members are fighting to protect their National Health Care and are vigorously pursuing changes in their bankruptcy laws to protect the benefits that our union has fought for and won.

These malicious and heartless assaults on working families must be stopped. The attempts to cut Social Security and Medicare benefits coupled with the attempt to “gamble” with Social Security benefits by investing the trust fund in the stock market is, in a word, unconscionable. What would be more unconscionable is if we stood by and did nothing to stop it.

We must renew our efforts to build SOAR into the premier advocacy group for preserving and advancing the rights and benefits of retired workers. The true strength of SOAR is still based on the number of Chapter members, the activists and leaders essential to our ability to act collectively on issues that affect our union’s retired and active members alike.

To that end, we are asking for your help. It is imperative that we continue to organize SOAR Chapters throughout both countries. We must provide support and strengthen the Chapters we have already established. And, we must renew our efforts to build SOAR into the organization that it has the potential to be.

In order to do all this, we must continue to grow. We are asking all of you to reach out to your fellow retirees who are not members and ask them to join. If you have retirees from other USW locals or facilities in your area, ask them to join your chapter or establish their own. Build ties with the active USW locals in your area and ask for their support. They could be a source of new members for your group or you can assist them in establishing their own chapter.

Rebuilding and strengthening SOAR is essential for winning the fight to improve and protect programs like Medicare and Social Security. Our well-being in retirement depends upon our activism and unity. A revitalized SOAR will go a long way towards protecting our rights.

We are confident that by working together, we can build SOAR into the strongest and most successful retiree organization in the labor movement but, we need your help!

Jim Centner, SOAR Director