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Alliance for Retired Americans Friday Alert, 6-8-12

Wisconsin Governor Wins Recall Election but Appears to Have Lost State Senate
Governor Scott Walker (R) held onto his office, but appears to have lost the state Senate, after Tuesday’s Wisconsin recall elections. Walker won his own race over Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett (D), 53%- 46%, despite union voters’ backing Walker’s recall, 75 percent to 25 percent. If former state Sen. John Lehman’s (D) victory over Walker ally/state Sen. Van Wanggaard (R) holds up, it will give Democrats a one-seat (17-16) majority in the state Senate. With all precincts counted, Lehman holds a 51 percent to 49 percent lead—about 800 votes over Wanggaard. But the incumbent has not conceded and indicated he may seek a recount.

Earlier, last Friday, 11,000 Wisconsin retirees had taken part in an Alliance telephone-town hall to discuss issues important to seniors prior to the elections.

Officials from the Election Protection Coalition reported a number of voters who would have been able to vote in 2010 but weren’t on Tuesday because of the state’s 2011 election law changes, including new 28-day residency requirements for Election Day registration. Voters also reported poll workers turning away people for not presenting photo ID, although the Wisconsin photo ID law has been enjoined. “This issue could rise again in Wisconsin in November,” said Ruben Burks, Secretary-Treasurer of the Alliance. “The Alliance will remain focused on voter protection there.”

Alan Simpson Update: Have You Signed Our Petition?
More than 1,600 people have already signed a petition denouncing former Senator Alan Simpson’s attack on California Alliance for Retired Americans seniors in a recent letter (details at Simpson was the co-chair of the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, and he has recommended that much of the national debt be addressed through cutting guaranteed Social Security benefits. He advocates both raising the Social Security retirement age and lowering cost-of-living adjustments. If you would like to add your signature to the petition, please go to

AIG CEO Says Retirement Age Might Have to be Raised to 80!?
American International Group Inc. (AIG) Chief Executive Officer Robert Benmosche said last weekend that Europe’s debt crisis shows governments worldwide must accept that people will have to work more years as life expectancies increase. “Retirement ages will have to move to 70, 80 years old,” Benmosche, who turned 68 last week, said during an interview at his seaside villa in Dubrovnik, Croatia. “That would make pensions, medical services more affordable. They will keep people working longer and will take that burden off of the youth.”

“Mr. Benmosche’s statement is disgraceful,” said Barbara J. Easterling, President of the Alliance. “Most 80-year-olds have health issues that would make attempting to work extremely stressful on their bodies and even dangerous. Forty-five percent of workers in the 62-69 year age range work in physically demanding or difficult jobs.” A new study ( from the Economic Policy Institute finds that hardships for older workers due to proposed Social Security cuts would be significant—and that the “just work longer to make up the difference” argument doesn’t hold up. Health problems, caregiving responsibilities, lack of suitable work and unemployment all play a role in making it difficult or impossible for many entering their would-be golden years to keep working.

In another related study, the American Institute for Economic Research (AIER) has found additional evidence that people whose jobs require more physical activity and manual labor tend to retire earlier. Further increasing the full retirement age would impact them disproportionately, AIER Research Fellow Dr. Shelly Liang found, because many “are no longer physically capable of doing their jobs and need to retire earlier, regardless of incentives.” For more, go to For the full report, go to

Follow the White House’s Senior Health Town Hall Online
The Obama Administration would like to invite you to take part in a live Senior Health Town Hall on Monday, June 11th from 10:00 a.m. - 11:30 a.m. from the White House. You can follow it on-line at and The event will include an opportunity for viewers to ask questions on Twitter and will feature an interactive, open dialogue with stakeholder groups and members of the media to highlight what the health care law - the Affordable Care Act - means for seniors and caregivers. It will include Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary, U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS); Kathy Greenlee, Assistant Secretary for Aging at HHS; and Jonathan Blum, Deputy Administrator and Director for the Center of Medicare at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. It will begin with opening remarks, followed by the question and answer period. The White House will be taking questions using the Twitter hashtag #Seniorshealth.

Ohio Alliance Seniors Help Prevent Loss of Their Landline Telephone Service
In Ohio, landline phone customers don’t have to worry about their service ending next year. Ohio’s Springfield News-Sun reports that lawmakers on the House Public Utilities Committee won’t move forward with a bill that would allow telephone companies to withdraw landline phone service in “competitive” areas. Lawmakers said a study required previously - on the impact of higher service fees and longer time to restore service - should be completed before more changes occur. Ohio Alliance members were among those phoning their legislators in opposition to the bill, which many feared would force seniors and people living in poverty to pay more for basic service.

Florida Voters’ Rights in the News Again
Voters’ rights remain an issue in Florida. State officials had taken action to remove non-eligible voters from its voter lists, after the state's Republican Gov. Rick Scott pressed the state to identify non-U.S. citizens who had registered to vote illegally. However, in the midst of a widespread public backlash, the U.S. Department of Justice is questioning the legality of the action. On June 1, Ron Labasky, a lawyer for the Florida State Association of Supervisors of Elections, advised all counties to stop the removal of names from the voter rolls until the Justice Department's concerns are resolved. The so-called “voter purge” would remove names from Florida's voter rolls months right before the 2012 presidential election, when Florida is likely to play a key role as a battleground state with a large number of electoral votes. For more, go to

For a printable version of this document, go to


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