Thursday, May 31, 2012

USW Calls for Paycheck Fairness

For Immediate Release: May 30, 2012
Contact: R.J. Hufnagel, 412-562-2450,

USW Calls for Paycheck Fairness
Mitt Romney as Republican Presidential Nominee Should End Silence

(Pittsburgh)– The United Steelworkers (USW) today called on Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney to end his silence on the Paycheck Fairness Act, a bill under consideration in the U.S. Senate that would provide greater protection to women who suffer because of sex-based pay discrimination.

“In this environment, when more hard-working women are the sole wage-earners for their families, it is particularly vital that we provide them with every tool to fight discrimination by their employers,” said USW International President Leo W. Gerard. “Throughout this primary season, we have seen Republican candidates take aim at women’s rights. It is time for Mitt Romney to end his party’s despicable war on women and support this bill.”
Romney has not responded to repeated media inquiries seeking his position on the bill, which the Senate is scheduled to consider next week.

In contrast, President Obama has voiced consistent support for paycheck fairness. In 2009, the new president made the Lilly Ledbetter Act the first bill he signed into law. That law expanded the rights of women to sue employers for back pay and legal costs in pay discrimination cases. The law now under consideration would expand those rights, allowing compensatory or punitive damages.

Corporations, led by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, oppose the bill, arguing it would spawn frivolous lawsuits.

Carol Landry, USW International Vice President at Large, said: “Quite simply, women deserve the same pay as men for the same work. Even when accounting for variables like experience, hours and education, women still only make about 80 cents for every dollar earned by me.”

She added, “This would help put a stop to such discrimination.”

The USW represents about 850,000 working men and women in the United States and Canada in a wide variety of industries, ranging from glass making to mining, paper, steel, tire and rubber and other manufacturing environments, to the public sector, service and health care industries.


Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Starke County, Indiana needs some rain

Gosh, we're dry as a bone here in Starke County. Need rain bad. Garden hurting. Grass browning. Weeds are the only thing thriving.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Alliance for Retired Americans Friday Alert 5-25-12

Alan Simpson Unleashes Outrageous Attack on California Alliance Seniors
When former Senator Alan Simpson (R-WY), co-chair of the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, ran into California Alliance (CARA) seniors in March, they let him know that they do not support his ideas for addressing the national debt. The activists picketed his appearance in Oakland, where he was trying to grow support for his recommendations. They also passed out a flyer that drew attention to how Simpson’s policies would affect those who are now young. In particular, they called him out on his plan to cut guaranteed Social Security benefits by raising the retirement age and lowering cost-of-living adjustments.

Simpson later went home to Wyoming and wrote a letter responding to the protesters, and he mailed it to CARA last week. By this Wednesday, that letter had gained national attention in publications including Politico (, The Los Angeles Times, and The Washington Post. For a link to the Simpson letter, go to

In the shocking correspondence, Simpson exploded with accusations, saying to CARA:
•    “You use the faces of young people, who are the ones who are going to get gutted while you continue to push out your blather and drivel,”
•    “What a wretched group of seniors you must be to use the faces of the very people that we are trying to save, while the ‘greedy geezers’ like you use them as a tool and a front for your nefarious bunch of crap,”
•    “You must feel some sense of shame for shoveling out this bull****.”

Edward F. Coyle, Executive Director of the Alliance, said in response, “Sen. Simpson’s letter was not just inappropriate and unbecoming a co-chairman of a White House Commission, but also wrong on the facts. The cuts that he has recommended are an attack on all Americans who want a secure retirement. His ideas would indeed sentence our children to an impoverished old age.”

CARA President Nan Brasmer told Politico, “Alan Simpson’s mean-spirited comments insult the intelligence and dedication of retiree activists who worry about their children and grandchildren’s future. Sen. Simpson sounds an awful lot like Mitt Romney and others who will use the recent Social Security Trustees report as political cover for their radical changes. They would put seniors at risk while enriching Wall Street and the big health insurance companies. For instance, increasing the retirement age - one of their suggestions - would be extremely unfair to workers, particularly those in blue-collar and service sector jobs. And privatizing Social Security would let Wall Street firms profit while gambling workers’ Social Security savings on the roulette wheel of the stock market.”

For a link to the articles about the letter, go to For a video showing CARA members reading it, go to

Alliance Celebrates Older Americans Month
May is Older Americans Month, and Alliance members have been using the time to send “Virtual Post Cards” to their Member of Congress. “The electronic messages thank those who have stood up against the Paul Ryan Republican budget, which would give seniors grossly inadequate vouchers to buy health coverage in the costly, unfair private insurance market, or have them purchase coverage from a Medicare program that would be badly weakened by the exodus of younger, healthier retirees,” said Barbara J. Easterling, President of the Alliance. “The post cards also cite those who support the Ryan budget,” she continued. Activists are then using social media to spread their message and letting local media outlets know they have sent their virtual post cards and why.

Generic, Re-importation Prescription Drug Amendments Voted Down in the Senate
The Senate defeated an amendment on Thursday that would discourage generic and brand-name drug companies from entering into agreements that stall access to generic drugs. Sen. Jeff Bingaman's (D-NM) amendment was meant to speed up the introduction of cheaper drugs to the market by deterring generic-drug companies that filed a patent on a specific drug from being the only company allowed to sell the drug for the first 180 days.  The Senate defeated the amendment to a sweeping FDA drug review bill, 28-67. For a tally of the vote, go to

A measure by Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) would have allowed the importation of cheaper medicines from Canada, likely saving the U.S. billions of dollars on health care spending. It failed 43-54, with bipartisan support and opposition, as an amendment to the FDA drug review bill. For a tally of that vote, go to

“If we want to control health care spending, we need to pass amendments like the one sponsored by Senator John McCain - as well as Senator Bingaman’s - that address prescription drug costs,” said Ruben Burks, Secretary-Treasurer of the Alliance.

Obama Ad Seeks to Gain the Support of Seniors
An ad by the Obama Re-election Campaign focuses on Medicare fraud and mentions the President's grandparents. Click on to view it!

Alliance Speaker Tara Maxwell Speaks at “Caring Across Generations” Town Hall
On Monday, Tara Maxwell, the Service Coordinator at Council House - a resident facility in Suitland, Maryland - represented the Alliance on Capitol Hill at the Caring Across Generations legislative town hall. For pictures from the intergenerational event, go to

National Leaders Hit the Midwest
On Wednesday, Mr. Coyle was in St. Louis, Missouri to address the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists. Also speaking were Earline Jones, President of the Missouri Alliance’s Educational Fund, and Missouri Alliance Organizer Judith Parker, who gave a presentation on stopping voter suppression. The same day, Ms. Easterling was in Indianapolis for the Indianapolis Alliance’s state convention.

For a printable version of this document, go to

Brain Farts

Friday, May 25, 2012

Steelworkers Celebrate 70 Years

This week members and friends of the United Steelworkers Union along with members of the Steelworkers Organization of Active Retirees celebrated 70 years of working for Justice for workers and retirees at the Cleveland, Ohio, Convention Center where this proud union was born.
Click on the photo to enlarge it.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

USW Mobile Alerts Program


USW news and information is available on virtually
any mobile phone or handheld device.


  • Send a text to 47486

  • Enter the letters USW

  • Hit SEND

By submitting your phone number, you agree to receive mobile alerts from the United Steelworkers Union including up to five SMS messages per month and are responsible for any mobile message or data charges incurred. To opt out, text STOP to 47486. For help, text HELP to 47486.


Saturday, May 19, 2012

Let's Rebuild America with S. 2252

                                                     Rebuild America Act S. 2252

On March 29, 2012, Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) introduced the Rebuild America Act (RAA), a bill that will reinvigorate our economy by investing in areas like education and workforce training, our nation’s infrastructure, manufacturing jobs, and retirement security. As Chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor & Pensions, Senator Harkin held hearings and events that examined ways to tackle the problem of the shrinking middle class, the engine that drives our nation’s economic growth. The Rebuild America Act reflects a commitment to restore the middle class and return retirement security to all Americans.

                                       The Rebuild America Act Strengthens Social Security

The Rebuild America Act includes a number of provisions that strengthen Social Security by improving the solvency of the Social Security Trust Funds and, at the same time, improve the benefit calculations and annual cost-of-living adjustments (COLA) for all Social Security programs.

Increases Social Security benefits: By adjusting the benefit formula, the RAA increases Social Security benefits on average by about $65 per month or $800 per year.

Adopts the CPI-E to Calculate Cost of living Adjustments: In requiring the use of the Consumer Price Index for elderly Consumers (CPI-E) to measure Social Security’s COLA, the RAA ensures that Social Security benefits keep pace with the rising costs of goods and services typically used by older Americans.

Strengthens the Social Security Trust Fund: To pay for these benefit improvements and to ensure Social Security is solvent for years to come, the RAA raises and ultimately scraps the cap on earnings subject to Social Security contributions (currently capped at $110,100) over a 10-year period. Benefits on these additional earnings would similarly be phased in over a 10-year period. This change alone extends the life of the Social Security Trust Fund to 2052 (currently 2036 expiration).

                                                                     Take Action!

The Rebuild America Act demonstrates a real commitment to strengthening Social Security and America’s retirement system while improving the economic and retirement security of millions of Americans. Contact your U.S. Senators today and ask them to co-sponsor S. 2252, the Rebuild America Act! Call the Capital Switchboard at 202-224-3121 and ask to be connected with your senator or visit to directly locate the contact information for your senators.

Source: Alliance for Retired Americans

Friday, May 18, 2012

Alliance for Retired Americans Friday Alert 5-13-12

Alliance Members in Northeast Round out the 2012 Regional Meetings
Over 150 Alliance members from northeastern states gathered this week in Philadelphia for workshops and presentations to help educate and mobilize retirees for the 2012 elections.  Retiree activists participated in training sessions to learn the latest developments on Medicare and health care reform from experts Kathleen Otte, Jaime Torres and Joanne Grossi of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; information on how Social Security will affect this year’s elections; and strategies for grassroots organizing and fund-raising.

Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) spoke at the convention luncheon on Tuesday. Other speakers included Pennsylvania Alliance President Jean Friday; Secretary-Treasurer of the Philadelphia AFL-CIO Liz McElroy; national Alliance President Barbara J. Easterling; Government and Political Affairs Director Rich Fiesta, who outlined 2012 electoral issues and the importance of the senior vote; and Trishala Deb from Caring Across Generations. Paul Lemmon of Labor 2012 stressed the importance of the union retiree vote in Pennsylvania, the week’s gathering spot, his home state, and also a swing state. Cindy Smalls of the AFL-CIO discussed new state voting laws that could lower the overall turnout. Several other dynamic presenters also lent their expertise.

Alliance members elected four activists to the Regional Board – James Parent, Nancy True, Jodi Weinreich, and William Finelli. For a slideshow of event photos, go to

Part of the Paul Ryan Plan Gets a Bad Review from its own Creator
The co-creator of the concept that Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) is relying upon to “reform” Medicare no longer thinks it will work. Henry Aaron, now of the Brookings Institution, and former Urban Institute president Robert Reischauer came up with the idea of “premium support” in 1995. Aaron got the chance to tell Ryan about his change of heart at a recent Capitol Hill hearing.

The basic idea of the Aaron-Reischauer plan is to let people pick their health insurers in the private market, subsidize the premiums, and let competition drive down costs. That’s also the theory behind Ryan's plan. It differs from Aaron's original vision -- in part because it has fewer protections for beneficiaries -- but the essential concept is the same. Aaron said this isn’t the time to test it out.

“In the years since Bob Reischauer and I put this idea forward, I've changed my mind,” Aaron told the House Ways and Means Committee. The big reason is that Aaron has seen no evidence since the two men came up with the idea that their assumptions have been borne out.

As reported and explained more fully in The Huffington Post at, a key assumption was that risk would be better adjusted among companies, so that if one insurer suddenly were saddled with an unusually expensive population, it would share the costs with other insurers or the government. That would keep costs down, because it would remove some of the incentive to cherry-pick healthier customers or shun sicker ones.

“At least when the plan was originally created, Congress regulated private industries and insurers more,” said Edward F. Coyle, Executive Director of the Alliance. “The Ryan plan would take the concept and remove the regulation part.”

Visit to view Aaron's full testimony. The Alliance thanks Karen Spivey, who posted a link for this story on our Facebook page and originally brought the story to us.

House Voter Rights Bill Aims to Stop Voter Suppression
On Thursday, Rep. John Lewis (GA), House Democratic Whip Steny H. Hoyer (MD), Assistant Democratic Leader James Clyburn (SC), Rep. John Conyers (MI), and Rep. Robert Brady (PA) unveiled “The Voter Empowerment Act,” comprehensive voting rights legislation. The bill will modernize voter registration, ensure equal access to the ballot box for all Americans, and prohibit deceptive practices and voter fraud that keep people from exercising their constitutional right to vote. The legislation is aimed at combating efforts in several states to pass unprecedented laws that would prevent disabled, minority, elderly, low-income, and other Americans from casting their ballots.

“Given voter identification requirement efforts in Pennsylvania as well as many other states, this legislation is crucial,” said Ruben Burks, Secretary-Treasurer of the Alliance.

Medicare Legislation Would Raise Eligibility Age to 70, Threaten Federal Workers
Republicans in the Senate announced reform legislation several weeks ago that would wind down Medicare and open the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (FEHBP) to all Medicare-eligible seniors. The Congressional Health Care for Seniors Act (S. 2196), introduced on March 15 by Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and co-sponsored by Republican Sens. Lindsey Graham (S.C.), Mike Lee (Utah) and Jim DeMint (S.C.), would allow all Medicare-eligible patients to enroll in FEHBP plans beginning in 2014. The existing Medicare program eventually would sunset.

According to Federal Daily (, the legislation also gradually would increase the initial eligibility age for seniors over a period of 20 years from age 65 to 70, at a rate of three months per year. The sponsors claim the plan would save $1 trillion over the first 10 years.

“Don’t be fooled. This proposal would end Medicare as we know it and threaten health benefits for federal employees,” Ms. Easterling said. “Given the current environment of severe budget cuts, we should all be very afraid of plans like this.”

Online Social Security Statements Provide Earnings and Benefit Information
A new online Social Security Statement is now available at The web site provides eligible workers with secure and convenient access to their Social Security earnings and benefit information. In addition, the portal includes links to information about other online services, such as applications for retirement, disability and Medicare. In February 2012, the Social Security Administration also resumed mailing paper statements to workers age 60 and older if they are not already receiving Social Security benefits.

Download a printable version of this document

Saturday, May 12, 2012

10 Things to Love about Social Security and Medicare


10 Things to Love about Social Security and Medicare

By NCPSSM | April 5, 2012

Americans love their Social Security and Medicare yet these earned benefit programs continue to be the focus of attacks like the GOP/Ryan Budget or the endless slew of “bipartisan” commissions like Simpson Bowles or the Gang of Six. Here are 10 reasons why workers, retirees, the disabled and their families love Social Security and Medicare and how these benefits are so vital to middle class Americans:

1. Social Security benefits are guaranteed. Unlike savings and investments, you can’t outlive your benefits. Social Security benefits are especially vital to women, who live on average longer than men.

2. Social Security benefits are protected from inflation. Social Security is one of the few retirement programs that provide an automatic annual cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) to beneficiaries. The annual COLA is intended to ensure that retirees, survivors and the disabled maintain their purchasing power.

3. Social Security is a valuable life insurance policy. Besides old age insurance, for the average wage earner with a family, Social Security insurance benefits are equivalent to a $476,000 life insurance policy.

4. Social Security provides disability insurance. Social Security ensures workers will have steady income if they become disabled and can no longer work. The insurance benefits are equivalent to a $465,000 disability insurance policy.

5. Medicare provides comprehensive health care coverage for seniors. Since its creation in 1965, Medicare has provided universal, reasonably affordable health care to millions of seniors. Before Medicare, more than half of seniors lacked hospital insurance. Today, virtually all people ages 65 and over are covered by Medicare.

6. Medicare provides free preventive health screenings. Seniors do not have to pay for Mammograms, Diabetes or Cancer screenings thanks to new provisions in the Affordable Care Act.

7. Social Security has a $2.7 trillion surplus. Since 1982, Social Security has maintained a budget surplus. Social Security remains strong, despite the lingering effects of the recession, and will be able to pay full benefits for the next 25 years – until 2036. Despite the gloom and doom rhetoric of those who want to cut Social Security to balance the budget, the program continues to run an annual surplus.

8. Medicare’s costs rise slower than private insurance. Medicare spending per beneficiary rose more than 400 percent from 1969 to 2009 but inflation-adjusted premiums on private health insurance rose more than 700 percent. Although high healthcare costs system-wide affect Medicare, it’s clear we have a healthcare problem, not a Medicare problem.

9. Social Security’s administrative costs are low. Less than 1% of Social Security’s budget goes to administrative costs. In a privatized system, commissions and fees could easily burn up as much as 15 cents out of every dollar of a worker’s annual investment as they do in some countries with privatized systems.

10. Social Security and Medicare are social insurance programs. Perhaps one of the biggest reasons why Social Security and Medicare are universally cherished is that in return for the contributions to these programs we make during our working years, we receive guaranteed retirement, disability or survivor benefits. These are, for most people, a lifeline of support; insurance for what President Roosevelt once aptly described as the “hazards and vicissitudes of life.”

Friday, May 11, 2012

Alliance for Retired Americans Friday Alert 5-11-12

Retirees Would Pay an Extra $20,000 if Supreme Court Overturns Health Reform
Retirees may pay about $20,000 more for medical care if the U.S. Supreme Court overturns the 2010 health care overhaul, according to a report from Fidelity Investments. Passage of the health law saved money for seniors, who among other benefits gained additional coverage for prescription drugs and free preventive care. The cost of losing those benefits, should the court overturn the law, would be about $20,000 before their deaths, according to Sunit Patel, senior vice president for Fidelity Benefits Consulting and the leader of the project.

The Supreme Court is weighing whether the law’s requirement that most Americans have health insurance is constitutional, and if not, how much of the law to overturn. Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, the likely Republican nominee for president in November’s election, has said he would repeal the entire law “as quickly as possible” should he take office. According to Bloomberg News, the court may preserve the drug benefit for seniors, which closes the gap in Medicare’s coverage for prescription medicines known as the “doughnut hole.” About 78 percent of people polled by the Kaiser Family Foundation in April said they held a favorable view of that provision. “We have a dollar figure in hand on how much more seniors are likely to pay if health care reform is struck down or repealed,” said Barbara J. Easterling, President of the Alliance. “It is just plain wrong to say that repeal would benefit seniors.” (More at

Voters Go to the Polls in Four States, Including Wisconsin and Indiana
Voters went to the polls on Tuesday in Wisconsin, Indiana, West Virginia, and North Carolina. Among the results: Mayor Tom Barrett of Milwaukee won the Democratic primary for the right to take on Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker (R) in a recall election to be held on June 5. In addition, Sen. Richard Lugar of Indiana lost a challenge from the right flank of his own Republican Party, his nearly four-decade career in the Senate ended by a tea party-backed GOP foe, state Treasurer Richard Mourdock. Mourdock will face Democratic Rep. Joe Donnelly in the general election. Democrats promise a competitive race as they seek to deny Republicans the four seats they need to take control of the Senate.

“Sen. Lugar had a reputation for bipartisan deal-making, but not on seniors’ issues,” said Ruben Burks, Secretary-Treasurer of the Alliance. “His lifetime voting record with the Alliance was 10% - meaning that 15 of the current Republican Senators voted in seniors’ best interests more often than he did.”

House Republican Budget Reconciliation Vote a Threat to Seniors’ Well-Being
On Thursday, the House passed H.R. 5652, the Sequester Replacement Reconciliation Act, by a vote of 218-199. No Democrats voted for the bill, and 16 Republicans voted against it. For a tally of the vote, go to Most seriously, the vote eliminated the $1.7 billion Social Services Block Grant (SSBG) and cut Medicare and Medicaid for seniors.

“Preserving the SSBG would provide Meals on Wheels to seniors unable to prepare their own food; adult day care services, which enable seniors to remain in their own homes; and funding for programs such as adult foster care and adult protective services, which address the abuse and exploitation of older adults,” said Edward F. Coyle, Executive Director of the Alliance. To read his complete statement, go to

“Cheat Sheet” Available: What to Say at Town Halls!
Do you want to be active in protecting Social Security and Medicare, but aren’t always sure what to say? The Alliance has created a concise 2-page document with suggestions on what questions to ask. For instance, see if your elected officials support turning Medicare into a voucher program! View the document by going to

107 Charged in Medicare Fraud Busts in 7 Cities
ABC News reported that federal authorities charged 107 doctors, nurses and social workers in seven cities with Medicare fraud last week, in a nationwide crackdown on unrelated scams that allegedly bilked the program of $452 million — the highest dollar amount in a single Medicare bust in U.S. history. Hundreds of federal agents fanned out nationally, raiding businesses, seizing documents and charging 107 suspects in Miami, Los Angeles, Houston, Detroit, Chicago, Tampa, Fla., and Baton Rouge, La. The government suspended payment to 52 providers as part of the investigations.

“It was the latest in a string of major arrests in the past two years as authorities have targeted fraud that’s believed to cost the government between $60 billion and $90 billion each year,” according to ABC. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and Attorney General Eric Holder partnered in 2009 to increase enforcement by allocating more money and staff and going after “fraud hot spots.” Community mental health centers are the latest trend in Medicare fraud, which has developed more complex schemes over the years, moving from medical equipment and HIV infusion fraud to ambulance scams, as criminals try to stay one step ahead of authorities. To read more, go to

Maine Alliance Holds its Founding Convention
The Maine Alliance for Retired Americans held its founding convention on Thursday. Elected as leaders were: Don Berry – President; Bruce Hodsdon – Vice President; Ed Keefe, Treasurer; and Archie Janvrin, Secretary. Sandra Crehore, Paul Gilbert, Richard Gordon, Diane Grandmaison, and Charlie Urquhart were elected to the board.

Richard Fiesta, Director of the Department of Government and Political Affairs for the Alliance, spoke at the Maine convention and also at the New Hampshire Alliance’s Educational Forum in Manchester on Wednesday. Educational forums were held this week in Wake Forest, North Carolina and Oak Creek, Appleton, and Green Bay, Wisconsin, as well.

Florida Alliance Helps Dedicate Senior Housing in Miami
Florida Alliance President Tony Fransetta attended the re-dedication of the Mildred and Claude Pepper Towers on Tuesday in Miami. An Elderly Housing Development and Operations Corporation board member, Mr. Fransetta gave an inspiring speech and participated in the ribbon cutting ceremony. To see video footage, go to
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Thursday, May 10, 2012

Seniors' Well-Being Jeopardized

815 16th Street, NW, 4th Floor ¨ Washington, D.C. 20006 ¨ (202) 637-5399 ¨
For Immediate Release                                            Contact: David Blank (202) 637-5275
May 10, 2012                                                         

                                                   House Republicans’ Budget Reconciliation Bill
                                                              Jeopardizes Seniors’ Well-Being

The following statement was issued today by Edward F. Coyle, Executive Director of the Alliance for Retired Americans, in response to the House passage of the Republicans’ Budget Reconciliation Bill:

“Today the House passed the Sequester Replacement Reconciliation Act. In doing so, they took the country further down the path set by their Budget Committee Chairman, Paul Ryan - a path that jeopardizes seniors' health so that the wealthiest 1% can continue to receive tax breaks. In short, the House passed a reconciliation bill that lays out more spending cuts that target the most vulnerable among us, including seniors.

“Most seriously, the vote today eliminates the $1.7 billion Social Services Block Grant (SSBG) and cuts Medicare and Medicaid for seniors.

“Preserving the SSBG would provide Meals on Wheels to seniors unable to prepare their own food; adult day care services, which enable seniors to remain in their own homes; and funding for programs such as adult foster care and adult protective services, which address the abuse and exploitation of older adults.

“Democrats had offered an amendment that would maintain the Medicare guarantee for all seniors. Democrats also would have protected the social safety net for vulnerable Americans by helping states finance their share of Medicaid expenditures.

“The House Democrats have an alternative that would implement the Buffett Rule - ensuring that the wealthiest pay their fair share - and would inject balance into the process by eliminating subsidies to oil companies.”


The is a national organization that advocates for the rights and well being of over 4 million retirees and their families.

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

USW Rejects Romney's Attack on Unions

For Immediate Release:  May 9, 2012

Contact:   Gary Hubbard, 202-256-8125,
    Wayne Ranick, 412-562-2444;

USW Rejects Romney’s Attack on Unions and President Obama
As guardians of the middle class, we will expose Republican distortions and lies

Pittsburgh (May 9) – Leo W. Gerard, president of the United Steelworkers (USW), today was critical of Republican Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney’s dishonest attack on President Obama and American labor unions in remarks he made at the Lansing Community College.

Gerard said, “President Obama has listened to us as American workers and laid out a vision of the America we need. One that creates jobs and prosperity for all Americans and not the 1% who have looted the economy as presumed Republican candidate Romney did when he led his private equity firm known as Bain Capital.

“Romney’s latest attack on American unions and President Obama in his address at the  community college in Michigan is what we’ve come to expect from the ‘Etch-A-Sketch’ candidate who can’t help himself in trying to pretend the demise of the Oldsmobile was the fault of the current administration and labor unions.”

When Obama announced his Task Force on Middle-Class Working Families, he declared: “I do not view the labor movement as part of the problem; to me, and to my administration, labor unions are a big part of the solution. We need to level the playing field for workers and the unions that represent their interests. Because we know that you cannot have a strong middle class without a strong labor movement.”

Gerard declared, “Romney’s record as the corporate boss at Bain Capital will show he and Wall Street raiders like him destroyed good American family jobs and converted their hard-earned pensions and health care benefits into millions for himself and his shareholders, hiding loot in tax-free, offshore secret bank accounts.

“We as guardians of the middle class will expose Romney’s lies and reveal him as a politician who seeks to deny workers’ rights in the states, and advocates schemes that exploit workers in low-wage states like South Carolina.” Affirming Obama took action to stop the economic bleeding in America caused by Wall Street, Gerard said the facts show 25 straight months of private-sector job growth with businesses creating 4.1 million jobs.

“As a union representing American workers in the manufacturing, energy and service sectors, we stand up and are ready to go to work to re-elect President Obama.”

# # #

Friday, May 04, 2012

Alliance for Retired Americans Friday Alert May 4, 2012

Alliance Members Prepare for 2012 Elections at Southern Regional Meeting
Over 70 Alliance members from southern states gathered this week in Orlando for workshops and presentations to help educate and mobilize retirees for this fall’s elections.  Retiree activists participated in training sessions to learn the latest developments on Social Security and Medicare; how to use the media and new on-line communications tools to reach seniors in their community; and how to strengthen their grassroots organizing and fund-raising efforts.

Speakers included Florida Alliance President Tony Fransetta, national Secretary-Treasurer Ruben Burks, Executive Director Edward F. Coyle, and Government and Political Affairs Director Rich Fiesta, who outlined 2012 electoral issues and strategies and the importance of the senior vote; Ben Belton from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Trishala Deb from Caring Across Generations, and Krystal Knight from the Medicare Rights Center, who discussed improving health care for current and future retirees; Steve Walker from the Democratic National Committee, who cited the party’s accomplishments for seniors; Cindy Smalls of the AFL-CIO, who discussed new state voting laws that could suppress turnout; and Nolan Harrison III of the National Football Players Association, who spoke of his union’s solidarity across the broad labor movement and announced that the group has formally affiliated with the Alliance.

Alliance members elected four activists to the group’s Regional Board – Martina “Marty” Alvarado, Bill Cea, Emmett Sheppard, and Kenneth Stevens.  Check out photos of the meeting at

Sign-Up Today for Alliance’s Northeast Regional Meeting
Join fellow retiree activists May 14-16 in Philadelphia for Training Seniors to Win, the 2012 Northeast Regional Meeting of the Alliance for Retired Americans.  The training workshops and presentations will be an excellent opportunity to strengthen your skills as an activist.  For more information, please call 202/637-5377 or visit

Romney Assails Obama Support for Labor
On the eve of International Workers Day, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney criticized President Barack Obama’s support for the American labor movement, with a campaign spokeswoman saying that the President has, “chosen to put the interests of big labor ahead of the interests of America's workers and job creators.”  In response, the AFL-CIO released a new video, Mr. 1%, [] that compiles Mr. Romney’s policy stances and public statements on workers and the economy, including quotes such as “I like to fire people,” “let Detroit go bankrupt,” and “corporations are people.”

Mr. Obama spoke this week at a meeting of the AFL-CIO’s Building and Construction Trades Department and expressed his strong opposition to the so-called “Right to Work” laws that have either passed or are under consideration in a number of states.  “I believe the economy is stronger when collective bargaining rights are protected,” the president said [].

Earlier this week, the Romney campaign told The Hill newspaper that former National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) member Peter Schaumber is no longer advising the campaign [].  Recent media accounts have alleged that Schaumber inappropriately received confidential information from a current NLRB member regarding a pending matter before the board.  “Mitt Romney and his partners at Bain Capital have destroyed workers lives by buying up companies, slashing jobs and retiree benefits, and then selling off what is left behind.  For workers and retirees, the contrast between Mitt Romney and Barack Obama could not be more clear,” said Ruben J. Burks, the Alliance’s Secretary-Treasurer.

Rep. Ryan Says Budget Plan “Saves the American Dream”
Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), chairman of the U.S. House Budget Committee, said last weekend that his budget proposal, which dramatically slashes Medicare and Medicaid, “saves the American Dream” through fiscal austerity []. The proposal, which passed the House earlier this year, would cut health care for senior citizens in order to pay for more tax breaks for big corporations and for the wealthiest Americans. Seniors on Medicare would be given inadequate vouchers to either buy health coverage in the costly, unfair private insurance market, or purchase coverage from a Medicare program that would be badly weakened by the exodus of younger, healthier retirees. Moreover, the budget plan would turn Medicaid over to cash-strapped states, gutting a program that is the only way over 70 percent of seniors can afford long-term or nursing home care.  “The Ryan budget would destroy the American Dream by jeopardizing seniors’ health care and economic security in what should be their golden years,” said Alliance President Barbara J. Easterling.  Please share the Alliance’s new fact sheet on the Ryan plan by visiting

Affordable Care Act Has Saved Seniors $3.4 Billion on Prescriptions
A new report out by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) says that the 2010 Affordable Care Act has helped seniors and people with disabilities with Medicare save a total of $3.4 billion on prescription drugs from the enactment of the law through March of 2012 [].  According to CMS, in the first three months of 2012 alone, more than 220,000 people saved an average of $837 on the prescription drugs they purchased after they hit the prescription drug donut hole, for a total of $184.5 million in savings. The federal agency noted that in 2010 and 2011, more than 5.1 million people with Medicare saved over $3.2 billion on prescription drugs. “This is yet another reminder that President Obama’s health law is good for seniors.  But too many seniors do not know this – we must redouble our efforts to educate our friends and neighbors,” said Alliance Executive Director Edward F. Coyle, who encourages Alliance members to widely share the organization’s latest fact sheet on the issue

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Thursday, May 03, 2012

Outrageous, Women of Steel E-News May 1, 2012

United Steelworkers, Women of Steel
Honoring our past, protecting our future,
Women of Steel Vote

Out·ra· geous  (out-rā’ jәs) adj. Exceeding the bounds of what is right and proper. (Webster’s New Riverside Dictionary). 

This word aptly describes the Republican’s war on women over the past two years. This group is trying to destroy the middle-class and anything that supports this hard-working group of people.  They want to take us back to a time where women have no control of their bodies and minds, and have created an illusion of mass voter fraud to make it difficult - if not impossible - for many to vote, just to name a few.  We say:  ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!
Welcome to Outrageous, a weekly update to keep you informed of the latest maniacal offerings from extremists, who have taken over the Republican Party, with links to information so you can understand what is really behind their madness.  Please use the material to start a dialogue with your union brothers and sisters, co-workers, family and friends. We all need to be well informed of their tactics during this most vital fight to save many of the rights of women and the middle class.
For those of you who have people in your life who believe there is no Republican war on women, have them consider:
Women Compared to Livestock As Georgia House Passes Abortion Bill 
 Rep. Terry England  (R-Auburn) compared women carrying stillborn fetuses to livestock on his farm during a rough and tumble 14-hour workday on the House floor.  Complete article at ... more  

916 Anti-Women Bills Introduced By the GOP Since March 2011
The GOP would have you believe there’s no war on women after they started the war on women. The first opportunity they had to deflect attention away was when Hilary Rosen, off the top of her head, made the comment that Ann Romney never worked a day in her life. We all know what she meant but it gave the right ammunition to turn it into the war on moms. Just so we’re clear, there is no war on moms. That’s just plain malarkey and everyone, including Republicans know it. The Guttmacher Group compiled fascinating … more

Arizona Birth Control Bill Allows Employers to Fire Women based on Religious Beliefs
Legislation banning birth control has been advanced in Arizona which would allow employers to fire women who take the pill to prevent pregnancy, rather than for health purposes, based on religious and moral beliefs.. . more 

While Being Beaten, Just Remember the Things You Love About Your Husband
A Republican Wisconsin State Representative suggests an alternative to divorce from an abusive mate: Daydream about the good times while he’s beating you up . . . more 

“You Just Have to Close Your Eyes”Republican Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett suggest that women just close their eyes when mandatorily presented with ultrasound images of her unborn child and the description of the fetal heartbeat before she can have an abortion. . . . more 

Mitt Romney: Mothers Should Be Required To Work Outside Home Or Lose Benefits
Poor women who stay at home to raise their children should be given federal assistance for child care so that they can enter the job market and "have the dignity of work," Mitt Romney said in January, undercutting the sense of extreme umbrage he showed when Democratic strategist Hilary Rosen quipped last week that Ann Romney had not "worked a day in her life." The remark, made to a ManchesterN.H., audience, was unearthed by MSNBC's "Up w/Chris Hayes," and aired during the 8 a.m. hour of his show Sunday. Ann Romney … more

Gender Gap Persists in Cost of Health Insurance
WASHINGTON — Women still pay more than men for the same health insurance coverage, according to new research and data from online brokers. The new health care law will prohibit such “gender rating,” starting in 2014. But gaps persist in most states, with no evidence that insurers have taken steps to reduce them.
For a popular Blue Cross Blue Shield plan in Chicago, a 30-year-old woman pays $375 a month, which is 31 percent more than what a man of the same age pays for the same coverage, according, a leading online source of health insurance… more  

My Health is NOT Up for Debate: Wheel
Do you think our nation's leaders would allow a hospital to refuse to perform an emergency abortion on a woman -- even if it means she would die? … more

Wisconsin State Senator Says Women Are Paid Less Because ‘Money Is More Important For Men’ Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) quietly repealed his state’s equal pay law last week, a decision that will make it harder for victims of wage discrimination to sue for lost earnings and back wages. The law was enacted primarily to address the massive pay gap that exists between male and female workers, which is even bigger in Wisconsin than in other states. Repealing the law was a no-brainer for state Sen. Glenn Grothman (R), who led the effort because of his belief that pay discrimination is a myth driven by liberal women’s groups … more

Female Republican Senators Undermine GOP Claim That War on Women Is ‘Fiction’
Over the last month, conservative men such as Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum, Reince Preibus, and several others have called the Republican war on women a mere fiction invented by Democrats to attack them with in the media. Instead Republicans have spun their war on women as a fight for religious freedom, which just happens to attack the reproductive rights of women. Well, that may convince male Republicans, but female Republicans are not buying it. In fact, Republican women are undermining the claims made by their male counterparts. . . more

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Scrap the Cap on Social Security

All of the hoopla about Social Security going bust is just that...hoopla. Every time the Social Security Trustees come out with their report, the right wingers try to make a big deal about it, but look.
Here's what the report says:

  • Trustees project Social Security will be able to pay full benefits until the year 2033.  After that, Social Security will have sufficient revenue to pay about 75% of benefits.
  • Social Security is still well funded.  In 2012, with the economy showing slow signs of recovery, Social Security’s total income still exceeded its expenses by over $57 billion. In fact, the Trustees estimate that total annual income is expected to exceed program obligations until 2020.
  • Beneficiaries will likely see a Cost of Living Allowance increase of 1.8% in 2013.
So retirees, this is not a big deal. Social Security, like every other part of life needs to adjusted once in awhile to simply make sure it's working and healthy. Not a big deal. A few minor adjustments is all that's necessary.

All that needs to be done is to raise the cap on payroll taxes. That would fix what problem there might be.

Scrap The Cap!

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Garden Plantings

Early warm weather in northern Indiana brought fruit buds and blossoms out early in the season followed by two hard freezes. This set all fruit crops back for a poor season this year. Even potatoes got hit but seem to be coming back.

Cool weather crops like turnips, spinach, peas and lettuce seem to be doing well.

The last frost date is probably about May 15 but we're having one week of warm weather with nite time temperatures above 50 degrees so tomato plants could be put in now as long as you're prepared to cover them with buckets just in case. Shortly after that, peppers can be put in.