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Alliance for Retired Americans Friday Alert April 27, 2012

New Social Security, Medicare Projections No Excuse for Radical Changes
Reacting to new reports on the health of the Social Security and Medicare Trust Funds, Alliance Executive Director Edward F. Coyle warns retirees to be wary of politicians who would use these reports as, “political cover for radical changes that would put seniors at risk while enriching Wall Street and the big health insurance companies.”  Social Security, according to its Trustees, has a $2.7 trillion surplus, enough to fully meet the demands of a growing retiree cohort through 2033.  With no action from Congress, it would cover most benefits through 2086.  The Alliance supports an effort by Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) to significantly boost the Social Security Trust Fund by requiring the nation’s highest wage earners to pay Social Security taxes at the same rate as middle class workers. 

The Trustees report for Medicare noted that its Trust Fund, which covers hospital care, can fully pay benefits through 2024, and cover most benefits through 2085.  Coyle noted that the 2010 Affordable Care Act set in motion several bold steps to lower Medicare costs through greater emphasis on preventive care and eliminating subsidies to private insurance companies.  These approaches, Coyle said, are in stark contrast to Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s proposals to raise the eligibility age, reduce benefits, and radically change Medicare in a way that generates even greater profits for health insurance companies.  To learn more, visit

Report: Media Coverage Skews Social Security Debate
A new report from the noted Columbia Journalism Review concludes that on Social Security, “much of the press has reported only one side of this story using ‘facts’ that are misleading or flat-out wrong, while ignoring others.”  The study was particularly critical of Washington Post reporters and columnists for dramatically overstating Social Security’s fiscal challenges.  The authors said that, while Social Security is not in perfect health, “the one-sided reporting on this issue has influenced the way millions of Americans, especially younger ones, now think about Social Security.”  Commenting on the report, Alliance Secretary-Treasurer Ruben J. Burks said, “this is yet another reminder of how, particularly in an election year, Alliance members must help their friends and neighbors separate fact from fiction in the media and politics,” he said.  To read the report, visit

2012 Congressional Races: Pro-Seniors Candidate Wins in PA, Coyle Outlines Plans to Machinists
U.S. Representative Mark Critz (D-PA), endorsed by the Alliance and many other progressive groups, defeated U.S. Rep. Jason Altmire in a Tuesday congressional  primary that was caused by redistricting.  The Alliance reached out to its members in southwestern Pennsylvania to educate them on Critz’100 percent lifetime rating on the Alliance’s voting record, as well as Altimire’s vote against the 2010 Affordable Care Act, which helps retirees better afford to see a doctor and fill a prescription. 

Also this week, Mr. Coyle traveled to Las Vegas to speak to a group of retirees with the International Association of Machinists.  Coyle presented legislative and political updates on Social Security and Medicare and outlined the Alliance’s plans for grassroots education and mobilization between now and Election Day.  He urged attendees to quickly combat misinformation campaigns on TV and on the internet that try to scare and mislead seniors, an age group that votes at a greater rate than any others.

Voting Law Changes: NH Alliance Highlights Taxpayer Cost, Civil Rights Group Publishes Manual for Activists
In a leading southeast New Hampshire newspaper, state Alliance president Charles Balban wrote of the high taxpayer cost of a bill in the state legislature to require a government-issued photo identification to vote.  Balban said it would cost $800,000 to educate Granite State residents on what he termed “a radical change in our centuries-old voting tradition.”  Balban added that this figure does not include the cost of producing the new ID cards, as well as the daunting logistical barriers facing seniors living in remote parts of the state.  Visit for his full column.

Also this week, the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under the Law produced a handbook for how state and local organizations can help educate and assist prospective voters, particularly minorities and the elderly, who will be greatly affected by these new laws.  The guide, available at, calls the rash of state voter ID laws, “a costly solution in search of a problem that only serves to effectively disenfranchise certain voters.”  A study by New York University concluded that one is more likely to be a victim of a lightning strike than someone voting under their name.  Alliance members will learn more about new voter ID laws at two upcoming Regional Meetings, April 30-May 2 in Orlando and May 14-16 in Philadelphia. Register today at or call 202/637-5377.

Connecticut Alliance Members Rally, Lobby at State Capitol
Advocating for a series of state legislative bills to strengthen seniors’ economic well-being and ability to live independently in their own communities, over 100 Connecticut Alliance members and others gathered on Tuesday in Hartford for the state Alliance’s “Senior Day at the Capitol.”   Retirees made lobby visits to their elected officials and gathered under the capitol dome for a rally that featured state legislative leaders and retiree and labor activists.

Speaking at the rally, Connecticut Alliance President Cal Bunnell pointed to two empty rocking chairs alongside the podium, and said, “these are empty because we are not sitting in our rockers, we are active and working hard."  Alliance President Barbara J. Easterling urged attendees to put the day’s lobbying in a larger context, saying, “everything we fight for – state legislation in Hartford, Social Security and Medicare in Washington, and collective bargaining in the workplace – is part of the larger fight for justice and fairness.”

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