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Alliance for Retired Americans Friday Alert, April 13, 2012

Wall Street Journal Gives Lay of the Land on Senior Vote in 2012
The battle for seniors in 2012 is being fought in large part over Rep. Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) House Republican budget, according to a story in The Wall Street Journal. The article states that Democrats can regain support from older voters who switched to the GOP in 2008 and 2010 by shedding light on the Republicans’ plans to revamp Medicare (

“That ‘revamping’ would be drastic, because it would give seniors a small voucher, or coupon, to purchase coverage in an expensive, unfair private insurance market,” said Edward F. Coyle Executive Director of the Alliance.

According to the Journal, Mitt Romney, the most likely candidate to be the Republican nominee for President, is proving to be a formidable competitor in this battle. Romney has drawn large shares of older voters during the primaries, and recent polls show him ahead of President Obama among seniors in swing states such as Ohio, Pennsylvania and Florida. Over the last decade, voters over age 65 have increasingly turned to the GOP - a stark contrast to the Democratic-leaning “Greatest Generation” that preceded them. In 2008, Mr. Obama improved on his party's 2004 showing among every age group, except seniors. An analysis by the nonpartisan Pew Research Center for the People and the Press concluded that those over-65 are now “more conservative on social issues, angrier about the direction of the country and more uneasy about the growth of diversity in the U.S. than younger generations.”

“We need to draw attention to the GOP plan to end Medicare as we know it. Conservatives broadly support doing that, but moderates and independents are wary of it,” said Mr. Coyle.

Wisconsin Alliance Welcomes Secretary Sebelius to Milwaukee Senior Center
About 250 seniors turned out in Milwaukee on Wednesday for a discussion with the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Kathleen Sebelius. The Secretary was at the Washington Park Senior Center to draw attention to the provisions in health care reform that benefit the 49 million people - including 650,000 in Wisconsin - who are covered by Medicare. Wisconsin Alliance President Leon Burzynski facilitated a panel discussion on the Affordable Care Act at the event. According to HHS, 59,345 people in Wisconsin received a 50% discount on prescription drugs when they hit the doughnut hole last year, with savings averaging $639 a person, and a total savings of $37.9 million statewide.

White House Derides Health Care Study
White House officials expressed disdain for a new study released by policy analyst Charles Blahous, who was a special assistant for economic policy in the George W. Bush administration. Blahous claims that the 2010 health care law will add $340 billion to the deficit. Jeanette Lambrew, President Obama’s deputy assistant for health policy, asserts that the claim fits old patterns of mischaracterizations about the Affordable Care Act and that official estimates show the health care law will ultimately reduce the deficit (

On Tuesday, presidential press secretary Jay Carney referred to Blahous’ report as “obviously a partisan analysis.” Carney pointed to estimates from the Congressional Budget Office and the Office of Management and Budget indicating that the Affordable Care Act would reduce the deficit over the first 10 years and dramatically over the next 10 years.

Rep. Allen West Says That Dozens of his Democratic Colleagues are Communists
Rep. Allen West (R-Fla.) warned constituents at a Tuesday town hall event that he's “heard” that 80 of his Democratic colleagues in the House are members of the Communist Party, the Palm Beach Post reported. There are currently 190 House Democrats.

“As a Representative from a state with such a large senior population, Rep. West should instead be focusing on strengthening Medicare and Social Security,” said Ruben Burks, Secretary-Treasurer of the Alliance. “He has a zero lifetime voting record with the Alliance, and these ideological side shows are distracting him from what his constituents really need.”

A tea party favorite, Rep. West made news in 2011 by saying, “…I was the only black member of a white supremacist motorcycle gang.” (

Alliance Members Work to Save America’s Postal Service
Alliance members turned out on Thursday to support the National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC), which had put together events across the country in order to save America's Postal Service. NALC held the demonstrations outside of Senate offices in order to put pressure on each senator to oppose S. 1789, a Senate bill scheduled to be voted on as soon as next week. If S. 1789 were to become law, it would hurt retirees and the Postal Service by putting an end to six-day mail delivery in two years, while phasing out door-to-door mail delivery. Many retirees receive their needed prescriptions by mail, and these proposed changes would threaten their well-being. Alliance members also called their senators about the legislation on Thursday.

Norm Wernet Honored at Ohio Convention
On Tuesday, the Ohio Alliance held its Spring Convention in Columbus. National Alliance President Barbara J. Easterling sent a letter that was read at the convention, congratulating Alliance Field Organizer for Ohio Norm Wernet on his upcoming retirement. “Whenever I have joined you for labor and retiree events in Ohio, I have always been struck by the large turnout of dedicated, politically savvy Ohio Alliance members that you have organized...(W)e hope that you enjoy the same relaxing, healthy, and happy retirement that you have worked so hard for others to have,” wrote Ms. Easterling.

Easterling Addresses Communications Workers in Maryland
Ms. Easterling was in Beltsville, Maryland on Wednesday to address the CWA Local 2108 Retired Members Council. She warned the attendees, “We cannot be the last generation of Americans who ever gets to retire. We cannot let this happen.”

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