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.