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Alliance for Retired Americans Friday Alert March 2, 2012 edition

Citing Polarization, Sen. Olympia Snowe Announces Her Retirement

Senator Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) announced on Tuesday that she will not seek re-election and will instead retire after over 30 years in Congress. The announcement came as a surprise to many, especially since she was heavily favored to win re-election. She cited unproductivity and polarization in Washington as the main reasons for her sudden retirement. In a poll released last week by the National Journal, she and her Maine colleague, Sen. Susan Collins, were considered the two most liberal Republicans in the Senate, voting with the Democrats more often than other GOP senators. Snowe’s retirement opens the door for a Democrat to pick up a seat in an expected hotly-contested fall contest. “The retirement of Senator Snowe is yet another reminder of the extreme direction in which the Republican Party is heading,” said Edward F. Coyle, Executive Director of the Alliance. “Senator Snowe has been an increasingly rare voice of moderation and openness,” he continued. “While retirees and workers did not agree with Senator Snowe on every issue, her door was always open to listen and engage in meaningful discussion. She regularly met with Alliance members when they visited Washington and spoke at our Maine Alliance meetings.”

“Perhaps Senator Snowe's experience was shaped when her party's leader, Senator Mitch McConnell, announced that his top priority would be to defeat President Obama,” Coyle added. “Senator Snowe, like Arlen Specter, Jim Jeffords and others before her, was a throw-back to a day when legislators of both parties sought to forge common ground. Retirees want to be able to pay their bills and stay healthy. That should not be a Republican goal or a Democratic goal, but something that all Americans want.”

Alliance’s Western Regional Meeting Features Training Sessions, Guest Speakers

The first of four Regional Alliance meetings winds down today in Las Vegas. After Nevada Alliance President Scott Watts welcomed the attendees on Wednesday, Danny Thompson, Executive Secretary Treasurer of the Nevada State AFL-CIO, told the more-than-250 attendees that the Alliance is a group that politicians fear. U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Rep. Shelley Berkley sent videotaped greetings. Herb Schultz, Regional Director of the Office of Intergovernmental and External Affairs with the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services, spoke of how the Affordable Care Act helps seniors and answered questions from members. Richard Fiesta, Director of the Department of Government and Political Affairs for the Alliance, gave an overview of the 2012 Congressional races in the West.

On Thursday, Steve Sebelius, Political columnist with the Las Vegas Review-Journal, spoke about the importance of Nevada politically in 2012. Julie Greene, Assistant Political Director for the AFL-CIO, said that the AFL-CIO is taking a leadership role in voter protection. Hector Sanchez, Executive Director of the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement, spoke about Latinos and the 2012 elections, recommending the web site Latinos for a Secure Retirement web site at http://bit.ly/zmaScJ. Democratic National Committee Deputy Political Director Steve Walker, Alliance President Barbara J. Easterling, Mr. Coyle, and other speakers were also well-received. Workshops included: Messaging; a panel discussion on how states use on-line organizing; 2012 Election Facts and Myth-Busting; Grassroots Organizing; and Fundraising. Elected to the Regional Board at the conference were: Luis Duran (California), Jo Etta Brown (Nevada), Mark Goodman (Colorado), and John O'Brien (Washington State).

Mitt Romney Wins GOP Primaries in Arizona, Michigan with Help from the Wealthy

Mitt Romney won two GOP primaries on Tuesday in his quest for the Republican nomination to take on President Obama in November. One of the wins was in Arizona, 47%-27% over Rick Santorum. The other win, a 41%-38% nail-biter over Santorum in Michigan, netted him only the same number of delegates as Santorum. According to ABC News, in Michigan, Romney won among senior citizens, but split voters under age 65 with Santorum. He won among Republican voters making an annual salary of $100,000 or more, but no other income group. His best performance was among GOP voters making $200,000 or more annually.

The results of a new Bank of America Corp. poll at http://bit.ly/ySCAQM show that many affluent Americans think the age for collecting Social Security benefits should be higher. “Considering that the average 30-year-old man today makes $3,000 less (inflation adjusted) than his father made in 1973, raising the retirement age would make retirement security even more difficult to reach for today’s middle class workers,” said Ruben Burks, Secretary-Treasurer of the Alliance. “Since Mitt Romney wants to do just that, many affluent voters have apparently found their candidate for 2012.”

New on the Web

Go to http://bit.ly/w7rSmy to see the Alliance’s new web page about the 2012 Presidential Election. The page includes the stances of Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul, Santorum, and Romney on Social Security and Medicare, as well as information on voter protection and key debate and party convention dates.  Click on http://bit.ly/vALaql to get to www.workconnectsusall.org, a site that celebrates the work we all do and how we are all inter-connected. Also, the AFL-CIO website has been re-designed to include extra features that will make it easier for working families to take action and build a vibrant online community. It is available at www.aflcio.org.

Dozens of Meetings Held during Alliance’s Lobby Week

Alliance members held over 75 meetings with Members of Congress during the lobby week that took place during the Presidents’ Day recess. “Thank you to everyone who participated in the lobby meetings,” said Ms. Easterling. “Because of you, we were able to stress our key messages: that Social Security is sound; that we don’t want Medicare privatization or vouchers; and that we do want to keep our new Medicare benefits.”

Robert Kortkamp Honored in St. Louis

On Tuesday in St. Louis, the Missouri Alliance hosted a luncheon to celebrate the life and legacy of Robert Kortkamp. Kortkamp, former President of the Missouri Alliance, had a long history of leading workers in their struggle for justice and continued his activism into retirement. Besides celebrating his life, the Missouri Alliance also announced the new Kortkamp Humanitarian Award.


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