Friday, December 28, 2012

Fanatics in Control of House

Members of the U.S. House of Representatives have so many crazy Republicans in it that they don't know which way is up or which way is down. They are afraid to put legislation forward which would prevent the tax increases from going into affect for fear that it would pass, believe it or not.

This is by far the nuttiest bunch of law makers we have ever seen. They are more interested in preventing the richest two percent of Americans from being taxed a little bit more than they are in protecting the middle class and the poor.

They seem determined to allow unemployment compensation from being extended, increase the payroll tax and tax middle class Americans so they don't offend their millionaire and billionaire friends. John Boehner is the most responsible because he is afraid that if the "fiscal cliff" is averted, he will lose his position of Speaker of the House, putting his career ahead of the country.

Republicans continue to seem determined to address the National Debt by placing the problem squarely on the backs of seniors and the most vulnerable.

Very disgusting to say the least.

All we can do at this point is to make phone calls to our Congressman and Senators. Please do it.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Hold On To Your Wallets

Wild eyed Republicans are on their way back to Washington D.C. with he intention of Paying down the National Debt on the backs of retirees by passing the so called Chain CPI.

Younger folks get set to take in Ma and Pa and delay your own retirement if they get their way. Now is the time to act. Let these bone heads know what you think of their incapability to govern. Give them a phone call. It's the very least you can do.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Alliance for Retired Americans Friday Alert 12-21-12

Social Security COLA Cut on Table in “Fiscal Cliff” Talks
While negotiations between President Barack Obama and House Speaker John Boehner remain stalled, disturbing media reports indicate an option on the table changing the federal statistical formula used to calculate Social Security Cost-of-Living Adjustment (COLA). “This would lower Social Security benefits for millions of seniors. Social Security did not cause our federal deficit, and retirees should not pay the price for more tax breaks for millionaires,” said Alliance President Barbara J. Easterling.

Click here to send a message to your elected Representatives! http://bit.ly/ZKBVhY

Known in policy circles as the “chained CPI,” the policy change would mean that an average earner retiring in 2011 at age 65 would lose over $6,000 over 15 years.  The change assumes that a lower COLA is acceptable because consumers could substitute cheaper products when prices go up.  Health care costs, however, consume a large amount of seniors’ income.  These costs cannot simply be substituted with a cheaper version. For example, a senior cannot save money by opting for a double bypass surgery instead of a triple bypass.  Share an Alliance fact sheet on the “chained  CPI” – http://bit.ly/Zm31wV.
 
“Congress needs to hear from seniors right away,” Easterling said, urging retirees to both call Congress and e-mail their offices. On Tuesday, retired Machinist Diane Fleming spoke at a rally at the U.S. Capitol, telling a large crowd, “It’s time to stop blaming retirees and workers for problems we did not create.”  She said, "Instead of making tax cuts for the wealthy, let us keep Medicare and Social Security strong for our children, our grandchildren and for us!” Watch here: http://bit.ly/UIXtWg.

Join with the Alliance in Supporting Locked-Out Sugar Workers
Please join with the Alliance in making a financial contribution to help support American Crystal Sugar workers who have been locked out by a management determined to increase their health care costs and outsource their work.  American Crystal’s CEO Dave Berg, who was paid nearly $2.5 million in 2011, has publicly referred to his employees who belong to the Bakery workers union as a “cancerous tumor” on the company.  The AFL-CIO has launched a nationwide consumer boycott of American Crystal Sugar products.  Join with the Alliance in supporting these workers by clicking here! http://bit.ly/UcHzGI.

Pennsylvania Alliance Fighting to Protect Funding for Seniors Programs
The Pennsylvania Alliance has joined AFSCME and other advocates across the state in a coalition to protect key seniors programs.  Governor Tom Corbett plans to turn over the management of the state lottery to a gaming firm based in the United Kingdom. The lottery provides more than $1 billion annually to programs for seniors – from paying for prescription drugs and property tax relief to funding for senior centers and nursing home care.  The Alliance and others believe the governor is hastily advancing a risky change without careful deliberation or public hearings.  “Too many seniors depend on the lottery to afford prescription drugs, stay in their homes and maintain their quality of life to allow such a rash decision to be made," said Pennsylvania Alliance president Jean Friday. Pennsylvania is the only state to devote 100% of lottery proceeds to seniors.

Join Us on Facebook by Becoming a “Fan” here: www.fb.com/retiredamericans
Would you like to receive real-time updates from Alliance activities, campaigns and breaking news? First, become a “fan.” Then, by sharing this link on your Facebook wall with friends and encouraging them to join our quickly-growing network, you can help disseminate the messages about retiree and working family news. You can also spread the messages by clicking the “share” and “like” buttons next to our posts. For example, 148 of our Facebook fans have “shared” the California flash mob video as of this morning. It has enhanced the views and awareness around this wonderful action. Similarly, 435 online activists “shared” the link to contact Congress and send a letter via the Alliance yesterday. This makes our communications even more powerful! Thanks for helping us to grow!

Beware of Holiday Scams
Like the Grinch at Christmas, there are troubling reports of a holiday season spike in consumer scams targeting seniors.  Experts say older Americans should be wary of phone calls, mail, and e-mails saying that you are eligible for prizes or other opportunities to receive money.  “We should remember the old adage ‘if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is,’” said Alliance Executive Director Edward J. Coyle. Please contact your local or state consumer protection office with questions and concerns.

Something on Your Mind? Write Letter, Win Pen!
Is there something you want retirees in your community to know about?  Take a moment to write a letter to the editor, and when published, the Alliance will send you a union-made “Retirees with the Write Stuff” pen. Letters to the editor are free and are widely read.

Most recently, Louis Albano, Steve Bickham, Nan Brasmer, Jo Etta Brown, Leon Burzynski, Jon “Yogi” Cox, Tim Cunningham, Doug Curler, Bentley Davis, Robert Dougherty, Val Jack, Marlene Koerner, Linda Kovak, Jan Laue, Charlie Lemon, Robert Lindley, Jerry Lotierzo, Dave Meinell, Gary Miszewski, Aubrey Glen Mobley, Valerie Paterson, David Rosenzweig, Tom Sedor, Sr., William Stevens, Thomas Thibeault, Pablo Trujillo, Bill Wallace, Martin Walsh, Rufus Wesley, Floyd Wright, and Jerry Zepplin contributed to their local papers. If you have had a letter published, please e-mail aracommunications@retiredamericans.org.

Happy Holidays from the Alliance
Friday Alert will return on January 4, 2013.  “May everyone find health and happiness during the holiday season. Thank you for all you do to improve the lives of current and future retirees.  Our working days may be over, but our fighting spirit burns as strong as ever,” – Barbara J. Easterling.



Wednesday, December 19, 2012

SOAR Opposes Chained CPI

Anyone watching the news or reading the newspapers about our nation’s debt ceiling has heard the term chained CPI.  But what does it mean and how does it affect us?  The Consumer Price Index (CPI) measures the average change over time in the prices paid by urban consumers for a representative market basket of consumer goods and services. The Bureau of Labor Statistics publishes the measures of price change for population groups on an annual basis.

The proposal to move to a “chained” Consumer Price Index (CPI) for making cost-of-living adjustments (COLAs) to Social Security benefits and indexing income tax will reduce benefits for current and future retirees, while increasing their taxes.

Automatic COLAs for Social Security benefits were enacted in the 1970's, to offset the Social Security beneficiary's additional expenses from one year to the next resulting from inflation.

Replacing the current system with the chained-CPI-U for purposes of calculating the Social Security COLA will reduce benefits for current and future beneficiaries. The chained-CPI-U produces lower estimates of inflation than the current CPI does. The Chief Actuary of the Social Security Administration estimates that this reduced COLA would result in a decrease of about $130 per year (0.9 percent) in benefits for a typical 65 year-old. By the time a senior reaches 95, the annual benefit cut will be almost $1400, a 9.2 percent reduction from currently scheduled benefits.

The growing effect of these reductions means that the lop-sided impact will be felt by Social Security's oldest beneficiaries. These are often women who have outlived their other sources of income, and rely on Social Security as their only lifeline to financial stability. Younger beneficiaries, who have sources of income other than Social Security, may find themselves hit from another direction as well - increased taxes.

A recent report, prepared for Congress, states that these increases would fall mainly on lower and middle-income taxpayers. For example, the tax liability for those with incomes between $10,000 and $20,000 would increase by 14.5 percent, and 3.5 percent for incomes between $20,000 and $30,000, while those with incomes of $1 million and above would see an increase of only 0.1 percent.

SOAR opposes use of the chained CPI-U for calculating Social Security COLAs. This is a benefit cut for current and future beneficiaries.  Any discussion of Social Security should be off the table in debt reduction discussions. Social Security did not cause the nation's debt problems and Social Security beneficiaries, who worked all of their lives and paid into the system, should not be expected to pay for the nation's fiscal mistakes.

There is no question that the nation's debt problem must be addressed, but Social Security beneficiaries should not be asked to bear the burden of solving this problem when Social Security, with its self-financing framework, has not contributed to this situation.

Connie Entrekin, SOAR President

Monday, December 17, 2012

I have guns but I'm not a "gun lover"


I have guns but I’m not a “gun lover”

My first gun was given to me when I was in kindergarten. It was a shiny new revolver cap pistol and I loved it. All the kids in my neighborhood dressed in cowboy hats and had their cap pistols, holsters, and cowboy shirts. We exchanged the latest cowboy comic books and I suppose I was at that time, a gun lover.

When in sixth grade, Santa brought me a Red Ryder BB gun. Wow, what a Christmas that was. Although warned by parents that we were not to shoot our BB guns at anyone, we would actually chose up sides and have BB gun “wars” out in the woods. What a great time, and besides the occasional sting of a BB on the leg or arm, nobody was seriously hurt.

Later on, I was given a 22 caliber single shot bolt action Remngton rifle from Sears. I used it for hunting squirrels and I still have that rifle and use it once in a while when I get the urge to plink at a few cans in the back yard.

In 1965, I bought my first hand gun. A Smith and Wesson service revolver. I bought it so I would at least have something on hand for protection at home.

My favorite gun is a single shot 4/10 shot gun. I use it to whack the occasional raccoon that discovers my garden or sits in my peach trees for his dinner.

My Dad used to get magazines from the NRA which used to be really interesting. I was given a couple of their magazines a few weeks ago. After leafing through them, I went to the NRA web site and discovered that this organization has changed ……. and not for the better. It seems to be purely a political organization.

Today, since the carnage in Connecticut where 20 children and 7 adults were murdered in an elementary school, I once again went to the NRA web site. Not a thing was mentioned about this massacre.

Today, I can’t call myself a “gun lover” although I do take reasonable care of my guns. I’m not afraid one bit of the government taking my guns away but at the same time believe something has to be done and I encourage my legislators to study the problem we have in this country and do something about it. 

It could be that nothing can be done to totally eliminate gun violence, but certainly we could do something about taking care of the mentally ill and making sure that background checks are given to every sale of a gun.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Alliance for Retired Americans Friday Alert 12-14-12

A Sign of Hope that the Medicare Eligibility Age will not Rise
One of President Barack Obama's top Senate allies says he's been assured by the White House that the President won't yield to GOP demands to increase the eligibility age for Medicare. AP reports that Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) made the revelation to reporters on Thursday, after a Capitol Hill news conference. Increasing the eligibility age is a key demand by Republicans seeking cost curbs in popular benefit programs in exchange for higher tax revenues. Durbin said he's been told that increasing the eligibility age from 65 is “no longer one of the items being considered by the White House.” On Tuesday, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (CA) had written in USA Today that Republicans want to raise the eligibility age as part of any fiscal cliff deal (http://usat.ly/SkqZpm).

“We must remain vigilant – there is still a whole lot of risk,” said Barbara J. Easterling, President of the Alliance. “Other threats to Medicare, such as additional means testing, remain on the table. Call your U.S. Representative and Senators toll-free at 888-659-9401. Tell Congress, ‘No cuts to Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. And end the tax breaks for the wealthiest 2%.’”

102 House Members Send Letter Promising to Vote against Social Security Cuts
A group of 102 Representatives presented Speaker Boehner with a letter last Thursday informing him they would not be willing to support any cuts to Social Security for current or future retirees. Ms. Easterling stated, “We wish to thank the many Members of Congress who signed this letter. They have confirmed their intention to stand with America’s retirees, and for that we are deeply grateful.” To see the letter, go to http://bit.ly/UdExPd.

For a clear, concise video of Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) explaining the Chained CPI, a formula change that would lower future Social Security cost of living adjustments, go to http://bit.ly/ZlbuiM.

A poll from Congressional Connection has joined the list of surveys showing that the public opposes benefit cuts to Social Security and Medicare. More at http://bit.ly/UtFYrg.

Michigan Governor Signs Right-to-Work for Less Legislation
Over the chants of thousands of angry protesters, Republican lawmakers made Michigan a right-to-work state on Tuesday, dealing a devastating blow to a state that has been a bastion of the labor movement for generations.

The GOP-dominated state House ignored Democrats’ pleas to delay the final passage and instead approved two bills quickly – just as the state Senate did last week. One measure dealt with private-sector workers, the other with government employees. Republican Gov. Rick Snyder signed them both within hours. Right to work laws make union participation and fees optional, as opposed to mandatory. Michigan became the 24th state to enact right to work for less laws.

Despite what their proponents say, these laws are harmful to workers. They allow their employers to pay them less, give them fewer sick days, and skimp on safety measures, because the unions are not as capable of holding employers responsible for their actions. According to the Economic Policy Institute, the average worker in ‘right-to-work’ state earns $1,500 less each year. “Retirees know firsthand the benefits of a strong union and fully support today’s workers,” said Edward F. Coyle, Executive Director of the Alliance.

Candlelight Vigils Drive Home the Point: Don’t Cut Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid
On Monday, hundreds of Alliance members joined working families in a national Candlelight Campaign to urge Congress to say no to cuts to benefits for Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, and to end tax cuts for the richest 2%. Working families across the country commemorated International Human Rights Day and held candlelight vigils, town halls, rallies and other events to highlight the right to health care and the right to retire with dignity. A few highlights from the dozens of Alliance events:video footage of a San Francisco California Alliance flash mob at http://youtu.be/i_kok6Y73_A; a photo from the Dallas Morning News of members of the Texas Alliance, Texas Progress and MoveOn protesting outside Sen. John Cornyn's office in Dallas at http://dallasne.ws/UdC1bN; and Maryland/DC Alliance members in Baltimore urging Rep. Elijah Cummings to stay strong against cuts at http://bit.ly/XiyEAS. More at http://bit.ly/SoCdcd. Also, North Carolina Alliance pictures are at http://bit.ly/VGfFyJ.

Democrats Announce Senate Committee Assignments
The U.S. Senate Democrats released their committee assignments for the 113th Congress, which begins on January 3, 2013. The link is at http://1.usa.gov/QXqzmY.

On Committees that most affect Alliance issues and programs, some of seniors’ best friends have won seats. Sen. Sherrod Brown (OH) goes on Finance (Social Security, taxation, much of Medicare and health care) along with Sen. Michael Bennet (CO). Sens. Tammy Baldwin (WI), Chris Murphy (CT) and Elizabeth Warren (MA) go on HELP (Health, Education, Labor and Pensions – labor and pension issues, parts of Medicare and health care); Sen. Bill Nelson (FL) becomes the new chair of the Aging Committee (which has oversight but no legislative jurisdiction on aging issues) and Sens. Baldwin, Joe Donnelly (IN), and Warren are new members; Sen. Patty Murray (WA) becomes the new Budget Committee chair, and Sens. Baldwin, Tim Kaine (VA) and Angus King (ME) are new members. Sen. Bernie Sanders (VT) will chair the Veterans Affairs Committee and Sen. Mazie Hirono (HI) will join it.
The House has not made its assignments yet. “Alliance activists should feel great pride in the officials they worked hard to elect and re-elect,” said Ruben Burks, Secretary-Treasurer of the Alliance. “Our work during the elections clearly made a huge difference.”

Ohio Alliance Welcomes a New State President
The Ohio Alliance has a new State President: Norm Wernet, a longtime organizer for the Ohio Alliance. “I would like to offer Norm a warm, ‘welcome back,’” said Mr. Coyle. “He has always achieved great success, even in the face of daunting challenges of geography, a difficult economy, and an often hostile political climate.”


For a printable version of this document, go to http://bit.ly/SpUG8n.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

A Law Based On Lies, Deception and False Promises

INDIANAPOLIS – Following Governor Snyder's signature of the so-called "Right to Work" law in Michigan last night, Indiana AFL-CIO President Nancy Guyott issued the following statement this morning:

"Sadly today the people of Michigan became the latest to fall victim to the lies, deception and false promises of so-called "right to work. As we witnessed in Indiana, the forces of corporate greed will stop at nothing to silence workers' voices in order to drive down wages and increase their profits.

The playbook is largely the same. Elect a governor, who promises not to support this divisive and unnecessary legislation, only to go back on his word. Secure a legislature dominated by one party. Bring in out of state interest groups to spend wheelbarrows of money on advertising to confuse the issue. And, finally, shut the public out of the legislative process by barring public input, ignoring independent research and even locking the doors of the Statehouse.

It begs the question, if "right to work" is the silver bullet its proponents claim it to be, then why is it only passed into law under such undemocratic circumstances?

The answer is clear. "Right to work" is a lie. It has nothing to do with economic development or jobs. It's about power and politics. Corporations want to lower wages and undermine working conditions and politicians want to punish those who dare to disagree with them.

Since passage in Indiana, the governor and the laws' proponents have continued the deception with false claims that companies are moving to the state as a result. In Indiana, we've seen firsthand the pressure put on companies to say this legislation impacted their decisions by state officials who make financial rewards to them when one was brave enough to stand up and deny it played a role. No matter their claims, the truth is that no employer has gone on record saying that such legislation was the determinative factor in a decision to locate to Indiana. Not one.

Hoosiers stand in solidarity with our brothers and sisters in Michigan as we fight to repeal this bad law and to restore the rights of working people. Indiana has passed and repealed it once before, and we will repeal it again. And, so will Michigan.

The fight has just begun."

The Indiana State AFL-CIO (American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations) is a federation of 800 local unions across the state belonging to 50 International Unions. In total, the Indiana State AFL-CIO represents more than 300,000 working Hoosiers.

For more information on please visit www.inaflcio.org [ http://www.inaflcio.org ] or call 1-800-433-8423.


###

Monday, December 10, 2012

Republican will lose the next election

What happened in Indiana by passing the "right to work" law allowing scab, mooching, cheapskates in Indiana to be able to take advantage of a union's bargaining power without paying their fair share to help pay for the resulting benefits is now happening in Michigan.

Republican anti labor politicians will learn that this tactic will eventually backfire.

They all should lose the next election.



Friday, December 07, 2012

Alliance for Retired Americans Friday Alert 12-7-12

Alliance Member Dines with Vice President Biden
Maryland/DC Alliance member David Waugh of Bethesda, Maryland had lunch with Vice President Joe Biden today. Waugh was selected to attend the lunch at an Arlington, Virginia diner, because he and his wife are part of the 98% of Americans whose taxes will go up if Congress doesn’t act to extend the middle class tax cuts. Waugh has stated that allowing middle tax class cuts to expire would mean increased difficulties in meeting monthly living expenses such as rent, utilities, car expenses, health care needs, and food. Six other people who would be seriously affected by higher taxes for the middle class also attended the luncheon. Vice President Biden said that it would take “15 minutes” for a bill to get done if House Speaker John Boehner agreed to let taxes on the wealthy go up.

Waugh added, “If my taxes were higher, it would be harder to help my son, who faces high medical bills.”

Fiscal Cliff Talks Continue as Republicans Put a Plan on the Table
House GOP leaders endorsed a debt-reduction plan on Monday that would raise tax collections by $800 billion over the next decade, but they refused to budge on higher tax rates for the wealthy. Boehner outlined the proposal in a Monday letter to President Obama in which he said the GOP will not support any plan that increases tax rates.

Boehner is using the plan of Erskine Bowles, a co-chair of President Obama’s National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, as the basis for the Republican plan. The plan would gradually increase the Medicare eligibility age from 65 to 67, and implement a less generous formula for calculating cost of living adjustments in Social Security – the “Chained CPI.”

The GOP’s offer does not offer details on how to raise $800 billion in revenue, other than to call for closing loopholes and lowering marginal rates. The letter was signed by Boehner, and the rest of the GOP’s leadership team, including former vice-presidential nominee Paul Ryan. Boehner (R-Ohio) also proposed an unspecified formula for means testing Medicare benefits.

President Obama's proposal, introduced in late November, raises taxes on the wealthiest 2%, fixes the Medicare “doc fix” for physician payments, provides stimulus and mortgage refinance funding, and extends unemployment insurance. It calls for $1.6 trillion in new tax revenue, $50 billion in stimulus funds and effectively ends Congressional control over the debt ceiling.

A new Quinnipiac poll shows that 65% favor raising taxes on families earning $250,000 or more.

Alliance members have now sent more than 9,300 messages to their U.S. Senators and Representatives, urging them to protect Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid and oppose any benefit cuts to these programs in deficit reduction legislation.

Alliance members have also joined other groups in calling Congress in large numbers, and many have reported back with a message about how those calls are going. “We are particularly heartened to see messages like we received from one senior, who said that he had a 35-person phone tree that he contacted when he got our request to call the Capitol,” said Barbara J. Easterling, President of the Alliance. “Thank you to all of our activists who have contacted Congress. Alliance members always come through when we need them most.”

Alliance joins AFGE, Other Groups in Protesting to Protect Social Security
Activists picketed outside a hundred Social Security offices around the country on Wednesday, telling lawmakers to keep Social Security out of the “fiscal cliff” negotiations on Capitol Hill. Organized by AFGE - the American Federation of Government Employees - the coordinated protests in 22 states also included members from the Alliance for Retired Americans, the AFL-CIO, and the American Federation of Teachers, among others.

The demonstrations were designed to send a message to politicians that making changes to the Social Security program is not the answer to the fiscal cliff problem. If a deal on the debt is not reached by year’s end, automatic spending cuts and furloughs for some federal workers could ensue. According to AFGE officials, SSA could be forced to slash its budget by more than 5 percent, leading to a hiring freeze and a net loss of more than 3,000 administration employees. A “grand bargain” – a deal that includes Social Security cuts – could have a similar impact.

Alliance Secretary-Treasurer Ruben Burks explained, “Social Security Administration cuts would not just be bad for SSA employees. They would lead to backlogs in claims and inferior customer service for seniors, the disabled, the poor, and families that have lost a parent or spouse – all of whom rely on Social Security.”

AFSCME Retiree Director Steve Regenstreif to Retire; Ann Widger to be New Director
After 40 years with AFSCME, Retiree Director Steve Regenstreif has decided to retire. Since becoming Director of the AFSCME Retirees, the union’s retiree membership has grown from 13,000 dues paying members in six retiree chapters to 250,000 retirees in over 260 state and local groups.  Prior to working with the AFSCME Retirees, Steve was based in New York and played a leading role in the permanent affiliation of the 220,000 – member Civil Service Employees Association (CSEA), which brought the AFSCME membership to the one million mark.

Alliance Executive Director Edward F. Coyle said, “On behalf of the Alliance, I want to congratulate Steve on his upcoming retirement and thank him for all he has done for us. For years, ha has been a strong leader in uniting and mobilizing seniors. There has been no greater supporter of the Alliance at the local, state, or federal level. Every cycle, Steve has generously supported our political efforts and acted as an unyielding defender of public sector employees and retirees for all they have achieved and earned.”

As of January 1st, Ann Widger will become the Director of the AFSCME Retirees.  Coyle continued, “We look forward to working with Ann, who is also a major supporter of the Alliance and a great friend to seniors.” Karen Gilgoff will continue her service as Assistant Director of the Department.
For a printable version of this document, go to http://bit.ly/TPKGAU.

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Republicans Are Not In Touch

For Immediate Release – December 3, 2012

Contact: Josh Goldstein 202-637-5018

Statement by AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka

On Republican Budget Letter to President Obama


Republicans in Congress are not in touch with their constituents. They do not seem to understand that they lost the last election because voters rejected their agenda.

And now they are recycling more of the same agenda that was overwhelmingly rejected in November: lower tax rates for the richest Americans and benefit cuts for Social Security and Medicare.

Today the House Republican leadership put forward a plan that would squander trillions of dollars by extending tax cuts for the richest 2% of Americans and lowering top tax rates even further.

Speaker Boehner claims this proposal is a “compromise” because it includes $800 billion in tax revenues from closing unspecified “loopholes.”  But this is the same “fuzzy math” that Gov. Romney tried to sell in the last presidential campaign.  We know from the debate over Gov. Romney’s plan that this sort of “loophole closing” either increases taxes on the middle class or increases the deficit.

At the same time, Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell is proposing benefit cuts to Social Security and Medicare.  In an interview with the Wall Street Journal on Friday, he argued for cutting Social Security COLAs, raising the eligibility age for Medicare, and increasing premiums for higher-income Medicare beneficiaries.

It is ironic that Republicans unfairly attacked President Obama during the campaign for cutting Medicare, and now they are turning around and proposing Medicare benefits cuts.  This is an agenda that spares the wealthiest Americans from any sacrifice and shifts the burden to working people.

We reject Speaker Boehner’s outlandish claim that this was a “status quo” election.  We reject the Republican agenda of lowering tax rates for rich people and cutting benefits for Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.  And specifically, we reject cuts in Social Security COLAs, increases in the Medicare eligibility age, increases in Medicare premiums, and any reduction in the top individual income tax rates below 36% and 39.6%.

We challenge Republicans in Congress to heed the lesson of the November election and work with us to put America back to work, raise wages, restore tax fairness, and rebuild the middle class.

Statement online here: http://www.aflcio.org/Press-Room/Press-Releases/Statement-by-AFL-CIO-President-Richard-Trumka-On-Republican-Budget-Letter-to-President-Obama

For the latest updates, follow @AFLCIO and @RichardTrumka on Twitter.

Monday, December 03, 2012

Buy American Made Products

The American factory played a big role in campaign commercials this year and candidates appealed directly to manufacturing workers on jobs, trade and China. In Cleveland, Ohio,  alone, couch potatoes witnessed 5,000 commercial spots highlighting trade. Talk about overload! Now that the election is over, we have another slew of commercials to contend with. If you watch TV, you are well aware of the steep discounts for early birds, and the buy-one-get-one-free deals that seem too good to be true.

The holiday season has arrived and the average American will spend $704 on holiday gifts and goodies this year, totaling more than $465 billion. We can all put the focus back on jobs and American manufacturing with as little as $64. Congress isn’t the only group of people that can support job creation. We all can help create jobs in this country by buying American-made products.  

If every one of us spent just $64 a year more on American-made products, we could create 200,000 new jobs here at home, not overseas. Ask your local retailers to stock more American made products, look at your labels and most importantly, share this information with your family. Buying American helps keep real people in real jobs across America, and it means safe, high-quality gifts for your family and friends. For information on American made products visit http://americanmanufacturing.org/blog/fashionfriday.   Happy Shopping!

Rachel Bennett Steury, AAM Field Coordinator

Sunday, December 02, 2012

Thanks and The Fight Goes On

I would like to extend a thank you and appreciation to all who made this recent election a success for seniors and the middle class. Any efforts, including those of talking to family members, friends and neighbors, made a difference. Many SOAR members dedicated hours and days getting the message out to voters.

I know it wasn’t easy. The Republicans and their big money donors out spent us 10 to 1. Overcoming the lies, myths and misleading propaganda was a challenge, especially in face of the folks at FOX news. But, we did it, and it proves that money and the influence of the millionaires and billionaires can be overcome by the strength of the seniors, the young, minorities and the working-middleclass and their unions.

Our fight is not over. As I write this I hear talk about the “fiscal cliff,” the federal budget and what the President and Congress may do about it. I also hear that the Republicans expect and are demanding that entitlements must be addressed.

What they are referring to includes Social Security and Medicare. The fact is that neither of these programs has any immediate impact on the budget. Social Security is in good shape for the next 23 plus years, and has no impact on the budget (except for what the government owes it). Medicare is funded for the next ten years. Any financial issues with these programs can effectively be addressed long after the immediate problems with the federal budget and, therefore, should not be part of the scare tactics. And further more, these social programs have been and are being paid for and should not be viewed as entitlements, but earned benefits.

Bill Gibbons, PACE Representative

Saturday, December 01, 2012

How to Address the Fiscal Cliff

The reelection of Barack Obama is truly a historical moment in our nation’s history. I too would like to add my thanks and admiration to all of you who worked so hard on this election.  The success we all just witnessed would never have happened if it wasn’t for the dedication and tireless effort of the thousands of volunteers that donated their time and effort to the USW political program. Our union is well aware of SOAR’s participation and the role our leadership and members played in its success.

As SOAR President, Connie Entrekin has said, we should all take a small break and celebrate our victory. Then, it is back to work! We will need to be the driving force for our agenda. It will not get done if we sit back and wait for it to happen.

Already, there are forces at work that want to make drastic cuts in Medicare and Social Security; that will cripple our recovery to avert the so called “fiscal cliff,” to address our nation’s deficit. This is the wrong approach. The best way to address the deficit is to put people back to work.

On Election Day, Americans firmly rejected the far-right Republican agenda of job-killing budget cuts. We voted with a mandate for strengthening the middle class and putting people back to work in good paying American jobs. We voted to invest in jobs and education, not for cuts to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.

It is once again time to make your voices heard. Call your members of Congress at 888-659-9401 and tell them to oppose benefit cuts to Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security and to end the Bush tax cuts for the richest 2%.

Jim Centner, SOAR Director

Friday, November 30, 2012

Alliance for Retired Americans Friday Alert 11-30-12


Obama Administration, Sen. Durbin Fight for Social Security in 'Fiscal Cliff' Debate
According to Politico, top officials who have been involved in the "fiscal cliff" talks for many months say the parameters of a deal — including the size of tax hikes and spending cuts it will most likely contain — are starting to take shape. Earlier this week, White House spokesman Jay Carney had said that Social Security is one program that should be addressed on a “separate track,” telling reporters that the country should address the drivers of the deficit, and that Social Security currently is not driving the deficit.

Sen. Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) has also urged his colleagues on Capitol Hill to keep Social Security out of the deficit reduction debates consuming the Capitol in the lame duck session. “Social Security does not add one penny to the deficit,” said Mr. Durbin on ABC’s “This Week.” Sen. Durbin also argued that Social Security is not in crisis, and should not be dragged into the debate on the so-called “fiscal cliff,” which concerns other issues entirely. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has long held those views as well.

In contrast, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) has told Democrats that Social Security must be on the chopping block for him to vote on any deficit deal.  Graham has called for a further increase in the retirement age, as well as means tests to further restrict access to Social Security’s funds. Politico reported on Thursday that House Speaker John Boehner did not answer directly when asked to choose between going over the fiscal cliff or extending tax rates only for those making below $250,000. 

“I find the Speaker’s non-answer stunning,” said Edward F. Coyle, Executive Director of the Alliance. “That is a question that I think Speaker Boehner should be able to answer.”

“Raising the age for Medicare eligibility from 65 to 67 remains one of the most frightening prospects as the deficit talks continue,” added Ruben Burks, Secretary-Treasurer of the Alliance.

Alliance Closing in on Goal of 10,000 Letters to Congress!
Alliance members have already sent more than 7,800 messages to their U.S. Senators and Representatives, urging them to protect Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid and oppose any benefit cuts to these programs in deficit reduction legislation. Our goal is 10,000. If you have not sent a letter and would like to, please go to http://bit.ly/TwHHiQ.

AFL-CIO Reports on Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid by State
On Tuesday, the AFL-CIO released state by state reports that illustrate how critical Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid are to working families across the country.  As the “fiscal cliff” approaches, some lawmakers have supported cuts to these critical programs while calling for renewed tax breaks for the wealthiest 2%. To see the AFL-CIO’s map of how the federal budget debate could affect each state, go to http://bit.ly/UpUBQv.

Chained CPI: Really a Social Security Cut
The editorial board of The Washington Post is supporting a change in the way the Social Security cost of living adjustment (COLA) is calculated.  The Post suggests moving to the “Chained CPI” (consumer price index) to calculate the inflation adjustments to Social Security payments, which averages 0.3 percentage points less than the current COLA standard.  While some support this as a way to slow the expenditures of Social Security, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) has stood up to these claims by calling the change what it is: a massive cut to Social Security for current and future retirees.  Though benefits would continue to grow, they would fail to keep up with the current rate of inflation, leaving retirees to work with even less money than they already receive. “The Chained CPI is just a fancy way for Congress to balance the budget on the backs of those who can least afford it,” said Barbara J. Easterling, President of the Alliance.  “If put into practice, retirees stand to lose thousands of dollars of future benefits that they worked their whole lives to earn.” For more on the Chained CPI, go to http://bit.ly/R4vsrb.

CEOs Lobby to Cut Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid in Fiscal Cliff Talks
A group called “Campaign to Fix the Debt” has been making noise this week about putting cuts to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid first on the table during the fiscal cliff negotiations. Joining this coalition are 54 CEOs from some of America’s biggest companies, including Boeing, Goldman Sachs, and AT&T. Over a dozen of these CEOs average about $20 million each in personal retirement funds.  Also notable, they represent a number of companies that have stripped pensions for their employees.

These CEOs state that we only have a few options left—raising the retirement age, cutting Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid—in order to avoid complete financial crisis. Predictably, they are strongly against raising taxes for the rich or dismantling corporation tax breaks. Some members of the coalition, such as Aetna CEO Mark Bertolini, have even threatened they will have to lay off workers if no deal is reached. Ms. Easterling responded, “It is clear that the Campaign to Fix the Debt does not understand the difficulties that working and retired Americans face. These CEOs will have millions of dollars to retire on. If Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid are cut, many retired Americans will lose all that enables them to remain in the middle class.”

Conservative Financier Pete Peterson also weighs in on Fiscal Cliff Negotiations
Pete Peterson, a well-known “deficit hawk” and billionaire, has gotten involved in the Washington fiscal cliff talks. Following the sale of his company, Peterson committed $1 billion to deficit reduction, and he has funded many deficit reduction think tanks and lobby groups. Although these groups preach bipartisanship, they all seem to espouse Peterson’s own philosophies of slashing Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid to reduce the deficit. Peterson hopes to be a major player in this round of negotiations. A National Journal article focusing on his role stated, “Singlehandedly, Peterson has also created a loose network of deficit-hawk organizations that seem independent but that all spout the Peterson-sanctioned messages of the need for “grand bargain” in the vein of the Simpson-Bowles plan.”

For a printable version of this document, go to http://bit.ly/TybqrJ.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Republicans Speaking with Forked Tongues

During the last election campaign, the Republican candidates were critical of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) by saying that Obamacare cut $716 billion from Medicare.

This $716 billion simply went toward eliminating waste, fraud and abuse and putting an end to the bonuses paid to private insurers of Medicare Advantage Plans and not a single senior lost any benefit as a result. As a matter of fact, Medicare benefits actually increased and the life of Medicare was increased by at least eight years.

Now, the GOP is insisting that any budget deal to avoid the so called fiscal cliff must include massive cuts to Medicare and Social Security. These are the programs that retirees depend upon. Does anyone besides myself think the Republicans speak with forked tongues?

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Victory Alone is not the Change We Need

The election is finally over!  I would like to thank all of you for your hard work and dedication through this long and sometimes difficult process. With the election behind us, we can all move forward on issues that are important to all Americans. Hopefully, all the fighting over the Affordable Care Act will be over and it will finally be accepted as the law of the land.

In this election cycle, the countless meetings you all attended, the phone banking and block walks, all played a major role in our success. Your dedication and tireless efforts bested the billions of dollars raised to defeat our President and stopped the far right from their extremist agenda that jeopardized the quality of life of working families and retirees.

We should all take a minute to catch our breath, recharge our batteries and celebrate our victory. Then, the work starts all over again! We need to make sure that the lame duck session does no harm to the programs, such as Medicare and Social Security, which are so vital to working class Americans. We need to support policies that promote full employment and family sustaining incomes that will continue to grow us out of this recession.

As I have said in the past, this victory alone is not the change we seek - it is only the chance for us to make that change, a path for us to move forward. However, it cannot happen without all of us working as hard on our agenda as we did in this election. 

Again, thank you for a job well done!

Connie Entrekin, SOAR President

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Another Myth about Obamacares

MYTH: Seniors will be the ones footing the bill for healthcare reform!
Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said, “[I]t appears as if they want to pay for [health care reform ] on the backs of seniors through Medicare cuts…” (Fox News)

Congressman John Boehner (R-OH) said, “the Democratic [health care] plan cuts Medicare and takes away choices for millions of seniors.” (July 20, 2009)

FACT: Health insurance reform will eliminate wasteful overpayments to private Medicare Advantage plans, extend the solvency of Medicare, and include improvements to Medicare benefits and health care for seniors. Medicare will remain strong and stable and seniors will continue to have the choice of doctors and hospitals and increase access to coordinated, high quality care. Health reform is actually key to protecting Medicare.

Source: Alliance for Retired Americans

Thursday, November 22, 2012

A Thanksgiving Memory

One recollection comes to my mind this Thanksgiving.

When I was in the 5th and 6th grade, I had a paper route in Hobart, Indiana, delivering the Chicago Tribune to customers in the downtown area.

All the paperboys, about a dozen of us or so, would head up to Kroskey's News Agency on Main Street, head for the back room where tables were set up along the perimeter of a large room. There, the papers for each paperboy were waiting on the tables for us to assemble, fold and place in our canvas paper bags.

After folding them all, I would take the bag out to my bicycle placing the bag on the front fender and securing it to the  handlebars. We had to deliver those papers and get home in time to go to school.

Being a paperboy was a great experience. The responsibility of delivering the papers, collecting money from customers and paying my bill for the papers taught me a lot.

Most customers were really great, and tips from them could be counted on. Two of my best customers were Abbott's Restaurant and the Oasis Tap. Mr. and Mrs. Abbott would give me free breakfast and the Oasis Saloon would let me belly up to the bar and give me several shots of Ginger Ale.

I had some lousy customers as well. Some always had a complaint of some sort and there were some who just wouldn't be able to pay their bill giving this excuse or that reason and I even had one that just wouldn't come to the door. One had a bill so large that after bringing it to the attention of my Dad, he came with me to give the customer some encouragement.

Of course because some customers wouldn't pay on time, after paying my bill for the papers, I never knew how much profit I would make.

I dreaded having to handle and deliver the Chicago Tribune on Thanksgiving Day. It was a well know fact and expectation that the Thanksgiving edition had more pages than any other during the year requiring me to go back to the Agency a couple of times to reload my bag.

Happy Thanksgiving everybody.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Cequent Towing Flees to Mexico

Cequent Towing, a manufacturer in Goshen, Indiana, has decided to move their plant to Mexico in order to exploit low wage workers there.

I'll do everything I can to make sure that people are aware of this unpatriotic company and ask them to boycott everything made by that company in the future.

In my mind, they're nothing better than traitors to the United States.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Means Testing Social Security? Nope.

Do you oppose means-testing Social Security benefits? Social Security’s popular
support is grounded in the fact that Social Security is an insurance program for every worker: Your contributions earn you the right to benefits when the time comes. Breaking the link between earnings and benefits undermines the very support the program needs for its continued success, leaving it highly vulnerable to benefit cuts in the name of deficit reduction. The Alliance for Retired Americans opposes means-testing benefits.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Party of Entitled Rich Threatens Economy


Posted: 11/19/2012 6:41 am


Republicans, the party of the nation's entitled rich, are holding a knife to the throat of America's frail recovery.
The GOP sore losers have America up against a wall. Republicans don't care that the majority of the country voted for a candidate who promised to raise taxes on the rich. Republicans don't care that an even larger majority - 60 percent - told election day pollsters they wanted those taxes raised. Republicans don't care about majority-rule democracy at all. They're demanding ransom - extension of tax cuts for the rich. If Americans don't submit, Republicans will slash the nation's economy.

"Back away from your Social Security, your Medicare, your Medicaid," the Republicans are ordering. The GOP insists those crucial social insurance programs be sacrificed to prevent the entitled rich from once again paying the income tax rates that they did during the boom years of Bill Clinton. The party that lost the Presidency, lost seats in the House and lost seats in the Senate is willing to take down the economy, to eviscerate programs like the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Consumer Product Safety Commission and the Federal Aviation Administration rather than require the entitled rich pull their weight as citizens of the country that enabled them to live lives of unprecedented luxury.
The candidate Republicans chose as their presidential nominee, Mitt Romney, stated the party's position loud and clear last spring and reiterated it during a phone call last week with his millionaire financiers. Romney told funders in May that he had no intention of "worrying about" 47 percent of Americans who he described as moochers, citizens he slandered with the allegation that they refuse to "take personal responsibility."

In the phone call last week, Romney claimed that the Americans he referred to as government moochers all voted for President Obama because the Democrat gave them "gifts." Romney, a quarter-billionaire, described the administration's plan for partial forgiveness of college loan interest as a "gift" to students. The Republican candidate born into wealth and pampered in private schools characterized as a "gift" the requirement in Obamacare that health insurance companies provide prescription contraceptives without co-payments.
The rich boy said President Obama bought women's votes for $10 co-pay forgiveness. But for Republicans, it's never the other way around. Romney and the GOP don't think they were buying the votes of the rich with their promise to add another 20 percent break on top of the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest.
That's because they believe they're entitled. They derisively refer to the social safety net programs that prevent the nation's poor and elderly from being reduced to eating cat food as "entitlements." But it's the entitled rich - Romney, the Koch Brothers, Sheldon Adelson and their ilk - who demand that America give them "stuff" like tax breaks for sending jobs overseas, like tax loopholes for hoarding their assets in the Caymans, like government-paid roads and sewers and rail lines to their businesses.
The entitled rich and their political party don't seem to get the fact that they lost the election. Eighty CEOs have ponied up $37 million to make sure the so-called fiscal cliff problem is resolved their way. They're saying, basically, they're willing to give up one of the "couple of Cadillacs" they drive if the middle class just accepts cat food as its meat course. The CEOs, calling themselves the "Fix the Debt" coalition, claim they'll pay a secret amount more in taxes if the 99 percent suffers cuts to its social safety net and endures slashed government programs.

Republicans in Congress won't even go that far. Their legislation would give more to the rich and less to everyone else. They've proposed, for example, extending the estate tax cuts that benefit the richest 0.3 percent of American families when their millionaire relatives die, an estimated 7,000 people in 2013. At the same time, Republicans are demanding an end to child tax credit and earned income tax credit enhancements that help 13 million families get by, families that include 26 million children. Those 7,000 entitled rich people and their Republican representatives believe 26 million kids can always join the grandmas dining on cat food. Tastes like chicken, right?

Congress and the President are confronted with a deadline in these hostage negotiations. On Jan. 1, half a trillion in tax increases and across-the-board spending cuts are scheduled to take effect for the remainder of fiscal year 2013. It's called the fiscal cliff because many economists believe the combined effect during a weak recovery would shove the economy back down into recession.

Democrats don't want to risk damaging the economy. They've proposed extending the tax cuts for the 98 percent right now. The richest two percent would benefit from these breaks as well, receiving them on the first $250,000 of their earnings. Everybody gets something. This proposal passed the Democratic-controlled Senate. The Republican-controlled House refuses to even vote on it.

Republicans aren't talking about extending tax breaks for the 98 percent. Instead, they're threatening the economic life of the country if they don't get what they want - tax breaks for people who don't need them.
Law enforcement experts discourage paying off blackmailers and kidnappers.
President Obama is right to take that advice and refuse to pay the ransom Republicans are demanding to appease the entitled rich.


Follow Leo W. Gerard on Twitter: www.twitter.com/uswblogger

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Republican Leadership Lacks Values

During the presidential campaign, the Republican candidates were critical of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) by saying that the Act cuts $716 billion from Medicare, even though no senior lost any benefits but rather benefits actually increased and the life of Medicare was increased by eight years because the ACA took that money and is vigorously pursuing waste fraud and abuse and stopping subsidies to Medicare Advantage programs.

Now, the Republican leadership is insisting that any budget deal to avoid the so called fiscal cliff must include massive cuts to Medicare and Social Security, programs that retirees depend upon.

Me thinks the Republicans speak with forked tongue. They should throw their talking points away, take a sabbatical and decide what their core principals really are because as it is now, they have none.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Alliance for Retired Americans Friday Alert 11-16-12



Lame Duck Agenda Threatens Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid
With the election over, all eyes are focused on the lame-duck session of Congress and the battle to come to a budget agreement to avert the fiscal cliff, a combination of automatic tax increases and massive budget cuts set to go into effect at the end of this year. President Barack Obama is entering negotiations with Congressional leaders today and seeking $1.6 trillion in new revenues through taxes aimed at the wealthiest Americans and corporations.  Republican leaders have balked at this proposal, and have continued their opposition to any kind of tax increase, even though the federal tax burden is at its lowest point in decades. The GOP is insisting that any budget deal must include massive cuts to Medicare and Social Security, programs that retirees depend upon.

“With the threat of sequestration ahead, it is more critical than ever for lawmakers to stand up for the programs that ensure a dignified retirement for current and future retirees,” said Barbara J. Easterling, President of the Alliance.  “To keep tax breaks for the wealthy, while slashing Medicare, Social Security and Medicaid, is absolutely unacceptable.” Sequestration is defined as the action of taking legal possession of assets until a debt has been paid or other claims have been met. Columnist Paul Krugman also warned this week of “using deficit fears to shred the social safety net.” (http://bit.ly/XdV1x1)

Democrats do not support House Speaker John Boehner’s offer to raise revenue without raising tax rates. The Democrats are also looking to double the amount of revenue that was on the table during last year’s debt-ceiling debate.

On Wednesday, Senate Democratic leaders said “no” to another Republican priority, when they rejected putting forward cuts to Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid before a meeting scheduled for today. Also on Wednesday, Harry Reid, the Democratic leader of the U.S. Senate, repeated his stance on Social Security: that he opposes including it in budget negotiations to avoid the fiscal cliff. Asked by National Journal Daily what Democrats are putting on the table, Democratic Sens. Chuck Schumer and Dick Durbin, both members of Reid’s leadership team, echoed the majority leader. “He’s not bringing entitlements to the table,” Durbin said.

Alliance Speaker Adds Key Voice at Capitol Hill Press Conference
Yesterday, Sen. Bernie Sanders (VT) and the U.S. Senate Defending Social Security Caucus held a special Summit on Capitol Hill to demand the protection of Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. Speakers noted that CEOs from some of America’s biggest and least-taxed corporations are working to unleash a plan to cut the Social Security system, Medicare and Medicaid during the lame-duck session of Congress. Allies from across the progressive movement joined one of their champions, Sen. Sanders, in showing that they will not roll over.

Diane J. Fleming, a retired United Airlines employee and also an International Association of Machinists retiree, spoke on behalf of the Alliance. Ms. Fleming told Congress and the media how Social Security has helped her family, including how it allowed her widowed mother to raise two small children.  Since Ms. Fleming lost much of her pension when United went bankrupt, Social Security’s guaranteed, stable benefits have been a lifesaver. Sens. Tom Harkin (IA), and Sheldon Whitehouse (RI), as well as Reps. Keith Ellison (MN), Raúl Grijalva (AZ), Jan Schakowsky (IL), Barbara Lee (CA), and Mike Honda (CA) also spoke at the event. The meeting was standing room only. For Facebook photos, go to http://on.fb.me/S11ipW.

“There are fair ways to reduce the $1 trillion federal deficit and $16 trillion national debt, but balancing the budget on the backs of the elderly, the sick, the children and the poor is not among them,” Sanders said. “We are here today to send a very loud and very clear message to the leadership in the House, in the Senate and in the White House: Do not cut Social Security; do not cut Medicare, do not cut Medicaid and do not provide more tax breaks to the top 2 percent who are doing phenomenally well and in many cases have never had it so good.”

Want to Save Social Security and Medicare? Call Congress!
The Alliance urges activists to call Congress to insist that elected officials keep the promise of Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid and end the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest 2%. The toll-free number to call is (888) 497-9539. For more information on what to say, go to http://bit.ly/PX6xIP. “Tell Congress that seniors are particularly outraged that the cuts to programs they rely on could be enacted in order to extend the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest 2% of Americans,” said Ruben Burks, Secretary-Treasurer of the Alliance.

About 35 protesters, including Montana Alliance seniors, rallied for tax fairness on Monday in Butte, Montana before Congress went into its lame-duck Session. Several speakers voiced their support of ending the Bush tax cuts, because the repercussions of keeping them would affect them locally. “We fear that Congress will balance the budget on the backs of the 98 percent, which is working Montanans’ and retired Montanans,” said Montana Alliance for Retired Americans President John Forkan.

Connecticut Alliance’s Awards Luncheon Gets a Special Visitor
Sen. Richard Blumenthal (CT) is joining Connecticut Alliance members at their annual awards luncheon today. The event honors long-time labor movement activists Dave Roche, President of the Connecticut Building Trades Council, and Nina Wolfson, President of the New Haven Federation of Teachers retirees.
Did You Know…
The last time three consecutive Presidents served two full terms was when Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and James Monroe completed two terms each – the 3rd, 4th, and 5th Presidents.

Editor’s Note: The next Friday Alert will be published on November 30.  Have a Happy Thanksgiving!

For a printable version of this document, go to http://bit.ly/U4qP3z.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Republicans Secured Obamacares

There's no doubt in my mind that those Republican candidates that spoke of "repealing" what they refer to as Obamcare is what clinched the election for Barack Obama.

Mike Pence and Jackie Walorski and others just didn't understand how valuable Obamacares is for working families and retirees.

So, thanks to them, Obamacares is here to stay.

Thank you, Republicans.

Friday, November 09, 2012

Alliance for Retired Americans Friday Alert 11-9-12

President Obama Wins Re-Election!
President Barack Obama won re-election over Republican Mitt Romney, gaining at least 303 electoral votes Tuesday night - 33 more than the 270 needed for victory. The President also leads in Florida, but results in that state are not yet final. In the U.S. Senate, Democrats defied the odds to increase their thin majority. If newly-elected Independent Angus King of Maine decides to caucus with the Democrats, the Democratic Party will have picked up two seats, for a 55-45 majority.

Alliance members helped re-elect or sweep into office many Senators with a pro-senior agenda, including Chris Murphy (CT), Joe Donnelly (IN), Tammy Baldwin (WI), Elizabeth Warren (MA), and Tim Kaine (VA). Alliance activists also played a key role in re-electing senior-friendly senators Sherrod Brown (OH), Bob Casey (PA), Claire McCaskill (MO), and Bill Nelson (FL). Following the election, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (NV) said, “We are not going to mess with Social Security.”

In the U.S. House, Politico currently puts the new seat tally for the parties at 233 Republicans to 193 Democrats. However, if results as they currently stand are deemed final, then the totals will be 235 Republicans to 200 Democrats. That total presumes a Republican victory in Louisiana, where two Republicans will face each other in a run-off. Heading into the election, the Republicans had held a 240-190 advantage, with 5 vacancies.

Alliance President Barbara J. Easterling congratulated Alliance members on their role in the Obama and Senate victories. “Thank you to our activists, who braved long lines and got out the senior vote. Your phone calls, volunteering, canvassing, and long-term planning paid off. It was due in large part to YOUR efforts that President Obama kept the White House!” she emphasized.

Edward F. Coyle, Executive Director of the Alliance, said, “The American people have spoken. Given clear choices and distinct differences on the issues of Social Security and Medicare – momentous topics in this year's elections – Americans decided their economic and retirement security, and that of the people in their communities, would be best served by Barack Obama and Joe Biden.” The Alliance’s Get out the Vote photo album is posted on Facebook at http://on.fb.me/SIvBka.

First Issue for the Re-Elected President: “The Fiscal Cliff”
A new Congressional Budget Office report on Thursday said that the fiscal cliff — a combination of automatic tax increases and spending cuts — would cut the deficit by $503 billion through next September, but that the fiscal austerity also would cause the economy to shrink by 0.5 percent next year and cost millions of jobs. The analysis predicted that the economy would fall into recession if there is a protracted impasse in Washington and the government falls off the fiscal cliff for the entire year. Though most Capitol-watchers think that long deadlock is unlikely, the analysts say such a scenario would cause a spike in the jobless rate to 9.1 percent by next fall. Seniors’ advocates fear that the debt could be used as an excuse to cut Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.

Also on Thursday, the Campaign Fix the Debt, founded by Erskine Bowles and former Sen. Alan Simpson, announced a dramatic increase in its drive to mobilize corporate and local support for Congress to make tough choices on the debt. The same day, Sen. Chuck Schumer (NY) noted that when Simpson and Bowles originally crafted a package of budget fixes, they said Social Security should be tweaked for its own sake, not to reduce the deficit.

President Obama made a speech at the White House on Friday, saying, “I am not going to ask students and seniors and middle-class families to pay down the entire deficit while people like me, making over $250,000, aren’t asked to pay a dime more in taxes.” His plan includes passing right away the bill the Senate passed that protects 98 percent of Americans from a massive tax hike at the end of the year.

House Speaker John Boehner on Friday pressured President Obama to take the lead on a deal to avert tax increases, saying “this is an opportunity for the president to lead. This is his moment to work on a solution that can pass both chambers.” But Boehner remained unyielding on raising taxes on upper income Americans – a priority for Obama – saying that “raising tax rates will slow down our ability to create the jobs that everyone says they want.” Boehner instead called for lowering tax rates while eliminating some deductions and loopholes as part of a larger tax reform bill.

Alliance Action Continues During Lame Duck Session of Congress
The Alliance participated in a total of 41 events this week alongside the AFL-CIO and other coalition partners who are addressing the fiscal cliff issue. The goal of the events was to drive home the messages that Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid should not be cut, and that tax cuts for the wealthiest 2% should expire. Alliance events included a Cincinnati press conference in front of Sen. Rob Portman’s office, as well as Reno and Las Vegas events in Nevada aimed at both sides of the political aisle.

The Alliance was also part of a coalition taking out a full-page ad in The Washington Post on Wednesday to stop elected officials from using the fiscal cliff to cut Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.

“The ad demands that any budget agreement asks all Americans to pay their fair share of taxes; prioritizes job creation first; and does NOT cut Medicare, Medicaid, or Social Security benefits - or shift those costs to beneficiaries or the states,” said Ruben Burks, Secretary-Treasurer of the Alliance. View the ad at http://bit.ly/Ze3IVj.

Medicare Open Enrollment: One Month Left
Whether you choose original Medicare or a Medicare Advantage plan, take advantage of Medicare’s open enrollment period to review cost, coverage, or both for next year. Open enrollment began Oct. 15 and runs through Dec. 7. It is the one time of year when all beneficiaries can see what new benefits Medicare has to offer and make changes to their coverage. Visit www.medicare.gov/find-a-plan to compare your current coverage with all of the options that are available in your area, and enroll in a new plan if you decide to make a change.

For a printable version of this document, go to http://bit.ly/TQotoT.


Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Medicare, Social Security Win in Election

For Immediate Release                                         
November 6, 2012
                                                             
The following statement was issued by Edward F. Coyle, Executive Director of the Alliance for Retired Americans, in reaction to the 2012 Presidential election.

“The American people have spoken. Given clear choices and distinct differences on the issues of Social Security and Medicare – monumentous topics in this year's elections – Americans decided their economic and retirement security, and that of the people in their communities, would be best served by Barack Obama and Joe Biden.

“This year, Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid were at the forefront of the national debate. President Obama’s and Vice President Biden’s strong positions to safeguard these landmark American programs are in line with what Americans want and need.

“President Obama and Vice President Biden reminded the nation that both Social Security and Medicare are among America’s greatest success stories and that they are programs that must remain strong for our children and grandchildren.  Their opponents in this race and some Members of Congress would have workers and retirees unfairly pay the price for a budget deficit they did not cause – their plans to cut benefits, raise the retirement age, and let Wall Street profit from a privatized system ignores the root cause of deficit – unneeded tax breaks for big corporations and millionaires.

“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.

“Moving forward, our members look forward working with the Administration and Members of Congress to keep Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid free from benefit cuts, especially in order to pay for large tax cuts for the richest 2% of Americans. Retirement security is a critical measure of economic security.

“The Alliance for Retired Americans congratulates President Obama and Vice President Biden and we look forward to accomplishing great things over the next four years.”

###

The Alliance for Retired Americans is a national organization that advocates for the rights and well being of over 4 million retirees and their families.

8815 16th Street, NW, 4th Floor ¨ Washington, D.C. 20006 ¨ (202) 637-5399 ¨ www.retiredamericans.org

Saturday, November 03, 2012

Now is Not The Time To Let Up


Remember to Vote on November 6th!
Election Day - Tuesday, November 6 - is now just four days away. “I want to thank all of our activists who have been working tirelessly, planning ahead for months,” said Barbara J. Easterling, President of the Alliance. “Now is not the time to let up. We must decide if we want to elect a President who represents all of us, or just a select few.”

Ms. Easterling continued, “Please make sure to vote this Tuesday if you have not already taken advantage of early voting. We need all hands on deck to make sure that we have the votes of everyone who supports President Barack Obama and other Alliance-endorsed candidates. For everyone – but especially if you live in a swing state like Ohio, Colorado, Florida, Virginia, Iowa, Nevada, Wisconsin, North Carolina, New Hampshire, or Pennsylvania: we are relying on you. President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden deserve to be re-elected, because they will keep Social Security and Medicare from being privatized and turned over to Wall Street and the big insurance companies.”

Ms. Easterling added, “Besides the race for President, key statewide races in states such as Massachusetts, Indiana, Connecticut, Montana, Nevada, and Wisconsin will determine who controls the U.S. Senate. And in the House of Representatives, Republicans look to make their majority more comfortable.”

“In case there are long lines on Tuesday, bring a book, water, a snack, a chair – and your friends and neighbors. Above all else, don’t leave until you’ve made sure that your own vote is counted!” Ms. Easterling concluded.

For a map with Alliance-endorsed candidates, go to http://bit.ly/PoHcY7. For a reminder of what the Paul Ryan budget, endorsed by Mitt Romney, would mean for seniors, Social Security, and Medicare, go to http://bit.ly/PoCA28.

Biden Video Captures the Message
There is now a 2-minute campaign video of Vice President Biden speaking specifically about seniors issues. It contrasts President Obama and Vice President Biden with Mr. Romney and Rep. Ryan on Medicare, Social Security, and other issues. Biden notes that the Romney-Ryan Medicare plan would cost seniors tens of thousands of dollars out-of-pocket. Click here to watch: http://bit.ly/StEqPw.

Voter Protection: The Effect of Hurricane Sandy
With election officials scrambling to prepare polling places pummeled by Hurricane Sandy, New Jersey Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno said yesterday that the state would deploy military trucks to serve as makeshift polling places and extend the deadline for requesting mail-in ballots. A spokesman for Guadagno said that voters had until the end of business Thursday to request mail-in ballots, and that they could be returned by 8 p.m. on Election Day. The previous deadline had passed last Tuesday. For more information, and details about other states affected by the hurricane, go to http://bit.ly/PrrITk. “Hurricane Sandy was a terrible tragedy,” said Ruben Burks, Secretary-Treasurer of the Alliance. “Our hearts go out to all who have suffered the loss of loved ones, and to those who have lost their homes. Let’s contain the damage and not let it affect the elections.”

Hurricane Sandy may not be the only obstacle. “If you become aware of any voting intimidation, irregularities or have any problems, please call 1-866-OUR VOTE,” said Edward F. Coyle, Executive Director of the Alliance. “That is the number for the toll-free nationwide Election Protection Hotline, a joint project of a coalition of groups, including the AFL-CIO and the Alliance, promoting voting rights.” If you have a voting problem, you can also ask to speak with the chief election official or a voting rights volunteer at the polls. For more information on voter protection, please visit http://bit.ly/R0DftK. The site includes information on how new voter identification laws apply to you and your state.

Kaiser Study Gives Clues to what is on Voters’ Minds
The Kaiser Family Foundation's October Health Tracking Poll (http://bit.ly/YmlYeM) finds, one week before the presidential election, the economy remains the primary concern on voters' minds nationally, but health policy issues are also in the mix. The Kaiser Foundation is a health-care policy group based in California.

The study estimated that a Medicare plan similar to Mr. Romney's proposal would likely result in higher premiums for 59% of Medicare beneficiaries. It found that for Democratic voters, Medicare (43%), Medicaid (43%), and the Affordable Care Act (41%) all share the top spot as the most important issue, along with the economy.

The economy is the winner (67%) for Republican voters, with the most important health issue, the Affordable Care Act (49%), ranking third behind the deficit (58%).

On Medicare, senior voters are the most likely to oppose switching to vouchers: 72 percent prefer keeping Medicare as is, compared to 58 percent of likely voters under 65. “That makes sense, since the Congressional Budget Office projects that new beneficiaries could pay more than $5,900 more per year in out-of-pocket costs by 2050 if we go to vouchers,” said Mr. Coyle.

Florida Alliance Goes International
In Tampa yesterday, Florida Alliance members took part in a discussion with eleven international journalists participating in the East-West Center's upcoming 2012 U.S. Presidential Election Reporting Seminar. The East-West Center, headquartered in Honolulu, promotes better relations and understanding among the people and nations of the U.S., Asia, and the Pacific. FLARA guests included State President Tony Fransetta, Barbara Phillipi, Tony Kiwak, Tom Snover, Bob Wagner, Georgina Wagner, Ray Davis, Carolyn Davis, David Bernstein, and Marilyn Warner.

For a printable version of this document, go to http://bit.ly/TqtMXA.