Friday, November 30, 2012

Alliance for Retired Americans Friday Alert 11-30-12


Obama Administration, Sen. Durbin Fight for Social Security in 'Fiscal Cliff' Debate
According to Politico, top officials who have been involved in the "fiscal cliff" talks for many months say the parameters of a deal — including the size of tax hikes and spending cuts it will most likely contain — are starting to take shape. Earlier this week, White House spokesman Jay Carney had said that Social Security is one program that should be addressed on a “separate track,” telling reporters that the country should address the drivers of the deficit, and that Social Security currently is not driving the deficit.

Sen. Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) has also urged his colleagues on Capitol Hill to keep Social Security out of the deficit reduction debates consuming the Capitol in the lame duck session. “Social Security does not add one penny to the deficit,” said Mr. Durbin on ABC’s “This Week.” Sen. Durbin also argued that Social Security is not in crisis, and should not be dragged into the debate on the so-called “fiscal cliff,” which concerns other issues entirely. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has long held those views as well.

In contrast, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) has told Democrats that Social Security must be on the chopping block for him to vote on any deficit deal.  Graham has called for a further increase in the retirement age, as well as means tests to further restrict access to Social Security’s funds. Politico reported on Thursday that House Speaker John Boehner did not answer directly when asked to choose between going over the fiscal cliff or extending tax rates only for those making below $250,000. 

“I find the Speaker’s non-answer stunning,” said Edward F. Coyle, Executive Director of the Alliance. “That is a question that I think Speaker Boehner should be able to answer.”

“Raising the age for Medicare eligibility from 65 to 67 remains one of the most frightening prospects as the deficit talks continue,” added Ruben Burks, Secretary-Treasurer of the Alliance.

Alliance Closing in on Goal of 10,000 Letters to Congress!
Alliance members have already sent more than 7,800 messages to their U.S. Senators and Representatives, urging them to protect Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid and oppose any benefit cuts to these programs in deficit reduction legislation. Our goal is 10,000. If you have not sent a letter and would like to, please go to http://bit.ly/TwHHiQ.

AFL-CIO Reports on Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid by State
On Tuesday, the AFL-CIO released state by state reports that illustrate how critical Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid are to working families across the country.  As the “fiscal cliff” approaches, some lawmakers have supported cuts to these critical programs while calling for renewed tax breaks for the wealthiest 2%. To see the AFL-CIO’s map of how the federal budget debate could affect each state, go to http://bit.ly/UpUBQv.

Chained CPI: Really a Social Security Cut
The editorial board of The Washington Post is supporting a change in the way the Social Security cost of living adjustment (COLA) is calculated.  The Post suggests moving to the “Chained CPI” (consumer price index) to calculate the inflation adjustments to Social Security payments, which averages 0.3 percentage points less than the current COLA standard.  While some support this as a way to slow the expenditures of Social Security, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) has stood up to these claims by calling the change what it is: a massive cut to Social Security for current and future retirees.  Though benefits would continue to grow, they would fail to keep up with the current rate of inflation, leaving retirees to work with even less money than they already receive. “The Chained CPI is just a fancy way for Congress to balance the budget on the backs of those who can least afford it,” said Barbara J. Easterling, President of the Alliance.  “If put into practice, retirees stand to lose thousands of dollars of future benefits that they worked their whole lives to earn.” For more on the Chained CPI, go to http://bit.ly/R4vsrb.

CEOs Lobby to Cut Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid in Fiscal Cliff Talks
A group called “Campaign to Fix the Debt” has been making noise this week about putting cuts to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid first on the table during the fiscal cliff negotiations. Joining this coalition are 54 CEOs from some of America’s biggest companies, including Boeing, Goldman Sachs, and AT&T. Over a dozen of these CEOs average about $20 million each in personal retirement funds.  Also notable, they represent a number of companies that have stripped pensions for their employees.

These CEOs state that we only have a few options left—raising the retirement age, cutting Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid—in order to avoid complete financial crisis. Predictably, they are strongly against raising taxes for the rich or dismantling corporation tax breaks. Some members of the coalition, such as Aetna CEO Mark Bertolini, have even threatened they will have to lay off workers if no deal is reached. Ms. Easterling responded, “It is clear that the Campaign to Fix the Debt does not understand the difficulties that working and retired Americans face. These CEOs will have millions of dollars to retire on. If Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid are cut, many retired Americans will lose all that enables them to remain in the middle class.”

Conservative Financier Pete Peterson also weighs in on Fiscal Cliff Negotiations
Pete Peterson, a well-known “deficit hawk” and billionaire, has gotten involved in the Washington fiscal cliff talks. Following the sale of his company, Peterson committed $1 billion to deficit reduction, and he has funded many deficit reduction think tanks and lobby groups. Although these groups preach bipartisanship, they all seem to espouse Peterson’s own philosophies of slashing Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid to reduce the deficit. Peterson hopes to be a major player in this round of negotiations. A National Journal article focusing on his role stated, “Singlehandedly, Peterson has also created a loose network of deficit-hawk organizations that seem independent but that all spout the Peterson-sanctioned messages of the need for “grand bargain” in the vein of the Simpson-Bowles plan.”

For a printable version of this document, go to http://bit.ly/TybqrJ.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Republicans Speaking with Forked Tongues

During the last election campaign, the Republican candidates were critical of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) by saying that Obamacare cut $716 billion from Medicare.

This $716 billion simply went toward eliminating waste, fraud and abuse and putting an end to the bonuses paid to private insurers of Medicare Advantage Plans and not a single senior lost any benefit as a result. As a matter of fact, Medicare benefits actually increased and the life of Medicare was increased by at least eight years.

Now, the GOP is insisting that any budget deal to avoid the so called fiscal cliff must include massive cuts to Medicare and Social Security. These are the programs that retirees depend upon. Does anyone besides myself think the Republicans speak with forked tongues?

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Victory Alone is not the Change We Need

The election is finally over!  I would like to thank all of you for your hard work and dedication through this long and sometimes difficult process. With the election behind us, we can all move forward on issues that are important to all Americans. Hopefully, all the fighting over the Affordable Care Act will be over and it will finally be accepted as the law of the land.

In this election cycle, the countless meetings you all attended, the phone banking and block walks, all played a major role in our success. Your dedication and tireless efforts bested the billions of dollars raised to defeat our President and stopped the far right from their extremist agenda that jeopardized the quality of life of working families and retirees.

We should all take a minute to catch our breath, recharge our batteries and celebrate our victory. Then, the work starts all over again! We need to make sure that the lame duck session does no harm to the programs, such as Medicare and Social Security, which are so vital to working class Americans. We need to support policies that promote full employment and family sustaining incomes that will continue to grow us out of this recession.

As I have said in the past, this victory alone is not the change we seek - it is only the chance for us to make that change, a path for us to move forward. However, it cannot happen without all of us working as hard on our agenda as we did in this election. 

Again, thank you for a job well done!

Connie Entrekin, SOAR President

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Another Myth about Obamacares

MYTH: Seniors will be the ones footing the bill for healthcare reform!
Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said, “[I]t appears as if they want to pay for [health care reform ] on the backs of seniors through Medicare cuts…” (Fox News)

Congressman John Boehner (R-OH) said, “the Democratic [health care] plan cuts Medicare and takes away choices for millions of seniors.” (July 20, 2009)

FACT: Health insurance reform will eliminate wasteful overpayments to private Medicare Advantage plans, extend the solvency of Medicare, and include improvements to Medicare benefits and health care for seniors. Medicare will remain strong and stable and seniors will continue to have the choice of doctors and hospitals and increase access to coordinated, high quality care. Health reform is actually key to protecting Medicare.

Source: Alliance for Retired Americans

Thursday, November 22, 2012

A Thanksgiving Memory

One recollection comes to my mind this Thanksgiving.

When I was in the 5th and 6th grade, I had a paper route in Hobart, Indiana, delivering the Chicago Tribune to customers in the downtown area.

All the paperboys, about a dozen of us or so, would head up to Kroskey's News Agency on Main Street, head for the back room where tables were set up along the perimeter of a large room. There, the papers for each paperboy were waiting on the tables for us to assemble, fold and place in our canvas paper bags.

After folding them all, I would take the bag out to my bicycle placing the bag on the front fender and securing it to the  handlebars. We had to deliver those papers and get home in time to go to school.

Being a paperboy was a great experience. The responsibility of delivering the papers, collecting money from customers and paying my bill for the papers taught me a lot.

Most customers were really great, and tips from them could be counted on. Two of my best customers were Abbott's Restaurant and the Oasis Tap. Mr. and Mrs. Abbott would give me free breakfast and the Oasis Saloon would let me belly up to the bar and give me several shots of Ginger Ale.

I had some lousy customers as well. Some always had a complaint of some sort and there were some who just wouldn't be able to pay their bill giving this excuse or that reason and I even had one that just wouldn't come to the door. One had a bill so large that after bringing it to the attention of my Dad, he came with me to give the customer some encouragement.

Of course because some customers wouldn't pay on time, after paying my bill for the papers, I never knew how much profit I would make.

I dreaded having to handle and deliver the Chicago Tribune on Thanksgiving Day. It was a well know fact and expectation that the Thanksgiving edition had more pages than any other during the year requiring me to go back to the Agency a couple of times to reload my bag.

Happy Thanksgiving everybody.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Cequent Towing Flees to Mexico

Cequent Towing, a manufacturer in Goshen, Indiana, has decided to move their plant to Mexico in order to exploit low wage workers there.

I'll do everything I can to make sure that people are aware of this unpatriotic company and ask them to boycott everything made by that company in the future.

In my mind, they're nothing better than traitors to the United States.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Means Testing Social Security? Nope.

Do you oppose means-testing Social Security benefits? Social Security’s popular
support is grounded in the fact that Social Security is an insurance program for every worker: Your contributions earn you the right to benefits when the time comes. Breaking the link between earnings and benefits undermines the very support the program needs for its continued success, leaving it highly vulnerable to benefit cuts in the name of deficit reduction. The Alliance for Retired Americans opposes means-testing benefits.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Party of Entitled Rich Threatens Economy


Posted: 11/19/2012 6:41 am


Republicans, the party of the nation's entitled rich, are holding a knife to the throat of America's frail recovery.
The GOP sore losers have America up against a wall. Republicans don't care that the majority of the country voted for a candidate who promised to raise taxes on the rich. Republicans don't care that an even larger majority - 60 percent - told election day pollsters they wanted those taxes raised. Republicans don't care about majority-rule democracy at all. They're demanding ransom - extension of tax cuts for the rich. If Americans don't submit, Republicans will slash the nation's economy.

"Back away from your Social Security, your Medicare, your Medicaid," the Republicans are ordering. The GOP insists those crucial social insurance programs be sacrificed to prevent the entitled rich from once again paying the income tax rates that they did during the boom years of Bill Clinton. The party that lost the Presidency, lost seats in the House and lost seats in the Senate is willing to take down the economy, to eviscerate programs like the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Consumer Product Safety Commission and the Federal Aviation Administration rather than require the entitled rich pull their weight as citizens of the country that enabled them to live lives of unprecedented luxury.
The candidate Republicans chose as their presidential nominee, Mitt Romney, stated the party's position loud and clear last spring and reiterated it during a phone call last week with his millionaire financiers. Romney told funders in May that he had no intention of "worrying about" 47 percent of Americans who he described as moochers, citizens he slandered with the allegation that they refuse to "take personal responsibility."

In the phone call last week, Romney claimed that the Americans he referred to as government moochers all voted for President Obama because the Democrat gave them "gifts." Romney, a quarter-billionaire, described the administration's plan for partial forgiveness of college loan interest as a "gift" to students. The Republican candidate born into wealth and pampered in private schools characterized as a "gift" the requirement in Obamacare that health insurance companies provide prescription contraceptives without co-payments.
The rich boy said President Obama bought women's votes for $10 co-pay forgiveness. But for Republicans, it's never the other way around. Romney and the GOP don't think they were buying the votes of the rich with their promise to add another 20 percent break on top of the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest.
That's because they believe they're entitled. They derisively refer to the social safety net programs that prevent the nation's poor and elderly from being reduced to eating cat food as "entitlements." But it's the entitled rich - Romney, the Koch Brothers, Sheldon Adelson and their ilk - who demand that America give them "stuff" like tax breaks for sending jobs overseas, like tax loopholes for hoarding their assets in the Caymans, like government-paid roads and sewers and rail lines to their businesses.
The entitled rich and their political party don't seem to get the fact that they lost the election. Eighty CEOs have ponied up $37 million to make sure the so-called fiscal cliff problem is resolved their way. They're saying, basically, they're willing to give up one of the "couple of Cadillacs" they drive if the middle class just accepts cat food as its meat course. The CEOs, calling themselves the "Fix the Debt" coalition, claim they'll pay a secret amount more in taxes if the 99 percent suffers cuts to its social safety net and endures slashed government programs.

Republicans in Congress won't even go that far. Their legislation would give more to the rich and less to everyone else. They've proposed, for example, extending the estate tax cuts that benefit the richest 0.3 percent of American families when their millionaire relatives die, an estimated 7,000 people in 2013. At the same time, Republicans are demanding an end to child tax credit and earned income tax credit enhancements that help 13 million families get by, families that include 26 million children. Those 7,000 entitled rich people and their Republican representatives believe 26 million kids can always join the grandmas dining on cat food. Tastes like chicken, right?

Congress and the President are confronted with a deadline in these hostage negotiations. On Jan. 1, half a trillion in tax increases and across-the-board spending cuts are scheduled to take effect for the remainder of fiscal year 2013. It's called the fiscal cliff because many economists believe the combined effect during a weak recovery would shove the economy back down into recession.

Democrats don't want to risk damaging the economy. They've proposed extending the tax cuts for the 98 percent right now. The richest two percent would benefit from these breaks as well, receiving them on the first $250,000 of their earnings. Everybody gets something. This proposal passed the Democratic-controlled Senate. The Republican-controlled House refuses to even vote on it.

Republicans aren't talking about extending tax breaks for the 98 percent. Instead, they're threatening the economic life of the country if they don't get what they want - tax breaks for people who don't need them.
Law enforcement experts discourage paying off blackmailers and kidnappers.
President Obama is right to take that advice and refuse to pay the ransom Republicans are demanding to appease the entitled rich.


Follow Leo W. Gerard on Twitter: www.twitter.com/uswblogger

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Republican Leadership Lacks Values

During the presidential campaign, the Republican candidates were critical of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) by saying that the Act cuts $716 billion from Medicare, even though no senior lost any benefits but rather benefits actually increased and the life of Medicare was increased by eight years because the ACA took that money and is vigorously pursuing waste fraud and abuse and stopping subsidies to Medicare Advantage programs.

Now, the Republican leadership is insisting that any budget deal to avoid the so called fiscal cliff must include massive cuts to Medicare and Social Security, programs that retirees depend upon.

Me thinks the Republicans speak with forked tongue. They should throw their talking points away, take a sabbatical and decide what their core principals really are because as it is now, they have none.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Alliance for Retired Americans Friday Alert 11-16-12



Lame Duck Agenda Threatens Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid
With the election over, all eyes are focused on the lame-duck session of Congress and the battle to come to a budget agreement to avert the fiscal cliff, a combination of automatic tax increases and massive budget cuts set to go into effect at the end of this year. President Barack Obama is entering negotiations with Congressional leaders today and seeking $1.6 trillion in new revenues through taxes aimed at the wealthiest Americans and corporations.  Republican leaders have balked at this proposal, and have continued their opposition to any kind of tax increase, even though the federal tax burden is at its lowest point in decades. The GOP is insisting that any budget deal must include massive cuts to Medicare and Social Security, programs that retirees depend upon.

“With the threat of sequestration ahead, it is more critical than ever for lawmakers to stand up for the programs that ensure a dignified retirement for current and future retirees,” said Barbara J. Easterling, President of the Alliance.  “To keep tax breaks for the wealthy, while slashing Medicare, Social Security and Medicaid, is absolutely unacceptable.” Sequestration is defined as the action of taking legal possession of assets until a debt has been paid or other claims have been met. Columnist Paul Krugman also warned this week of “using deficit fears to shred the social safety net.” (http://bit.ly/XdV1x1)

Democrats do not support House Speaker John Boehner’s offer to raise revenue without raising tax rates. The Democrats are also looking to double the amount of revenue that was on the table during last year’s debt-ceiling debate.

On Wednesday, Senate Democratic leaders said “no” to another Republican priority, when they rejected putting forward cuts to Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid before a meeting scheduled for today. Also on Wednesday, Harry Reid, the Democratic leader of the U.S. Senate, repeated his stance on Social Security: that he opposes including it in budget negotiations to avoid the fiscal cliff. Asked by National Journal Daily what Democrats are putting on the table, Democratic Sens. Chuck Schumer and Dick Durbin, both members of Reid’s leadership team, echoed the majority leader. “He’s not bringing entitlements to the table,” Durbin said.

Alliance Speaker Adds Key Voice at Capitol Hill Press Conference
Yesterday, Sen. Bernie Sanders (VT) and the U.S. Senate Defending Social Security Caucus held a special Summit on Capitol Hill to demand the protection of Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. Speakers noted that CEOs from some of America’s biggest and least-taxed corporations are working to unleash a plan to cut the Social Security system, Medicare and Medicaid during the lame-duck session of Congress. Allies from across the progressive movement joined one of their champions, Sen. Sanders, in showing that they will not roll over.

Diane J. Fleming, a retired United Airlines employee and also an International Association of Machinists retiree, spoke on behalf of the Alliance. Ms. Fleming told Congress and the media how Social Security has helped her family, including how it allowed her widowed mother to raise two small children.  Since Ms. Fleming lost much of her pension when United went bankrupt, Social Security’s guaranteed, stable benefits have been a lifesaver. Sens. Tom Harkin (IA), and Sheldon Whitehouse (RI), as well as Reps. Keith Ellison (MN), Raúl Grijalva (AZ), Jan Schakowsky (IL), Barbara Lee (CA), and Mike Honda (CA) also spoke at the event. The meeting was standing room only. For Facebook photos, go to http://on.fb.me/S11ipW.

“There are fair ways to reduce the $1 trillion federal deficit and $16 trillion national debt, but balancing the budget on the backs of the elderly, the sick, the children and the poor is not among them,” Sanders said. “We are here today to send a very loud and very clear message to the leadership in the House, in the Senate and in the White House: Do not cut Social Security; do not cut Medicare, do not cut Medicaid and do not provide more tax breaks to the top 2 percent who are doing phenomenally well and in many cases have never had it so good.”

Want to Save Social Security and Medicare? Call Congress!
The Alliance urges activists to call Congress to insist that elected officials keep the promise of Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid and end the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest 2%. The toll-free number to call is (888) 497-9539. For more information on what to say, go to http://bit.ly/PX6xIP. “Tell Congress that seniors are particularly outraged that the cuts to programs they rely on could be enacted in order to extend the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest 2% of Americans,” said Ruben Burks, Secretary-Treasurer of the Alliance.

About 35 protesters, including Montana Alliance seniors, rallied for tax fairness on Monday in Butte, Montana before Congress went into its lame-duck Session. Several speakers voiced their support of ending the Bush tax cuts, because the repercussions of keeping them would affect them locally. “We fear that Congress will balance the budget on the backs of the 98 percent, which is working Montanans’ and retired Montanans,” said Montana Alliance for Retired Americans President John Forkan.

Connecticut Alliance’s Awards Luncheon Gets a Special Visitor
Sen. Richard Blumenthal (CT) is joining Connecticut Alliance members at their annual awards luncheon today. The event honors long-time labor movement activists Dave Roche, President of the Connecticut Building Trades Council, and Nina Wolfson, President of the New Haven Federation of Teachers retirees.
Did You Know…
The last time three consecutive Presidents served two full terms was when Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and James Monroe completed two terms each – the 3rd, 4th, and 5th Presidents.

Editor’s Note: The next Friday Alert will be published on November 30.  Have a Happy Thanksgiving!

For a printable version of this document, go to http://bit.ly/U4qP3z.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Republicans Secured Obamacares

There's no doubt in my mind that those Republican candidates that spoke of "repealing" what they refer to as Obamcare is what clinched the election for Barack Obama.

Mike Pence and Jackie Walorski and others just didn't understand how valuable Obamacares is for working families and retirees.

So, thanks to them, Obamacares is here to stay.

Thank you, Republicans.

Friday, November 09, 2012

Alliance for Retired Americans Friday Alert 11-9-12

President Obama Wins Re-Election!
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.


Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Medicare, Social Security Win in Election

For Immediate Release                                         
November 6, 2012
                                                             
The following statement was issued by Edward F. Coyle, Executive Director of the Alliance for Retired Americans, in reaction to the 2012 Presidential election.

“The American people have spoken. Given clear choices and distinct differences on the issues of Social Security and Medicare – monumentous 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.

“This year, Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid were at the forefront of the national debate. President Obama’s and Vice President Biden’s strong positions to safeguard these landmark American programs are in line with what Americans want and need.

“President Obama and Vice President Biden reminded the nation that both Social Security and Medicare are among America’s greatest success stories and that they are programs that must remain strong for our children and grandchildren.  Their opponents in this race and some Members of Congress would have workers and retirees unfairly pay the price for a budget deficit they did not cause – their plans to cut benefits, raise the retirement age, and let Wall Street profit from a privatized system ignores the root cause of deficit – unneeded tax breaks for big corporations and millionaires.

“Honoring the promise of Social Security and Medicare should not be a partisan issue. Honoring the contributions that we make throughout our working years so that we may feed and clothe ourselves, keep a roof over our heads and those of our family, there is no reason for that to be a hotly contested partisan issue.

“Moving forward, our members look forward working with the Administration and Members of Congress to keep Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid free from benefit cuts, especially in order to pay for large tax cuts for the richest 2% of Americans. Retirement security is a critical measure of economic security.

“The Alliance for Retired Americans congratulates President Obama and Vice President Biden and we look forward to accomplishing great things over the next four years.”

###

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

8815 16th Street, NW, 4th Floor ¨ Washington, D.C. 20006 ¨ (202) 637-5399 ¨ www.retiredamericans.org

Saturday, November 03, 2012

Now is Not The Time To Let Up


Remember to Vote on November 6th!
Election Day - Tuesday, November 6 - is now just four days away. “I want to thank all of our activists who have been working tirelessly, planning ahead for months,” said Barbara J. Easterling, President of the Alliance. “Now is not the time to let up. We must decide if we want to elect a President who represents all of us, or just a select few.”

Ms. Easterling continued, “Please make sure to vote this Tuesday if you have not already taken advantage of early voting. We need all hands on deck to make sure that we have the votes of everyone who supports President Barack Obama and other Alliance-endorsed candidates. For everyone – but especially if you live in a swing state like Ohio, Colorado, Florida, Virginia, Iowa, Nevada, Wisconsin, North Carolina, New Hampshire, or Pennsylvania: we are relying on you. President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden deserve to be re-elected, because they will keep Social Security and Medicare from being privatized and turned over to Wall Street and the big insurance companies.”

Ms. Easterling added, “Besides the race for President, key statewide races in states such as Massachusetts, Indiana, Connecticut, Montana, Nevada, and Wisconsin will determine who controls the U.S. Senate. And in the House of Representatives, Republicans look to make their majority more comfortable.”

“In case there are long lines on Tuesday, bring a book, water, a snack, a chair – and your friends and neighbors. Above all else, don’t leave until you’ve made sure that your own vote is counted!” Ms. Easterling concluded.

For a map with Alliance-endorsed candidates, go to http://bit.ly/PoHcY7. For a reminder of what the Paul Ryan budget, endorsed by Mitt Romney, would mean for seniors, Social Security, and Medicare, go to http://bit.ly/PoCA28.

Biden Video Captures the Message
There is now a 2-minute campaign video of Vice President Biden speaking specifically about seniors issues. It contrasts President Obama and Vice President Biden with Mr. Romney and Rep. Ryan on Medicare, Social Security, and other issues. Biden notes that the Romney-Ryan Medicare plan would cost seniors tens of thousands of dollars out-of-pocket. Click here to watch: http://bit.ly/StEqPw.

Voter Protection: The Effect of Hurricane Sandy
With election officials scrambling to prepare polling places pummeled by Hurricane Sandy, New Jersey Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno said yesterday that the state would deploy military trucks to serve as makeshift polling places and extend the deadline for requesting mail-in ballots. A spokesman for Guadagno said that voters had until the end of business Thursday to request mail-in ballots, and that they could be returned by 8 p.m. on Election Day. The previous deadline had passed last Tuesday. For more information, and details about other states affected by the hurricane, go to http://bit.ly/PrrITk. “Hurricane Sandy was a terrible tragedy,” said Ruben Burks, Secretary-Treasurer of the Alliance. “Our hearts go out to all who have suffered the loss of loved ones, and to those who have lost their homes. Let’s contain the damage and not let it affect the elections.”

Hurricane Sandy may not be the only obstacle. “If you become aware of any voting intimidation, irregularities or have any problems, please call 1-866-OUR VOTE,” said Edward F. Coyle, Executive Director of the Alliance. “That is the number for the toll-free nationwide Election Protection Hotline, a joint project of a coalition of groups, including the AFL-CIO and the Alliance, promoting voting rights.” If you have a voting problem, you can also ask to speak with the chief election official or a voting rights volunteer at the polls. For more information on voter protection, please visit http://bit.ly/R0DftK. The site includes information on how new voter identification laws apply to you and your state.

Kaiser Study Gives Clues to what is on Voters’ Minds
The Kaiser Family Foundation's October Health Tracking Poll (http://bit.ly/YmlYeM) finds, one week before the presidential election, the economy remains the primary concern on voters' minds nationally, but health policy issues are also in the mix. The Kaiser Foundation is a health-care policy group based in California.

The study estimated that a Medicare plan similar to Mr. Romney's proposal would likely result in higher premiums for 59% of Medicare beneficiaries. It found that for Democratic voters, Medicare (43%), Medicaid (43%), and the Affordable Care Act (41%) all share the top spot as the most important issue, along with the economy.

The economy is the winner (67%) for Republican voters, with the most important health issue, the Affordable Care Act (49%), ranking third behind the deficit (58%).

On Medicare, senior voters are the most likely to oppose switching to vouchers: 72 percent prefer keeping Medicare as is, compared to 58 percent of likely voters under 65. “That makes sense, since the Congressional Budget Office projects that new beneficiaries could pay more than $5,900 more per year in out-of-pocket costs by 2050 if we go to vouchers,” said Mr. Coyle.

Florida Alliance Goes International
In Tampa yesterday, Florida Alliance members took part in a discussion with eleven international journalists participating in the East-West Center's upcoming 2012 U.S. Presidential Election Reporting Seminar. The East-West Center, headquartered in Honolulu, promotes better relations and understanding among the people and nations of the U.S., Asia, and the Pacific. FLARA guests included State President Tony Fransetta, Barbara Phillipi, Tony Kiwak, Tom Snover, Bob Wagner, Georgina Wagner, Ray Davis, Carolyn Davis, David Bernstein, and Marilyn Warner.

For a printable version of this document, go to http://bit.ly/TqtMXA.