Friday, December 28, 2012

Fanatics in Control of House

Members of the U.S. House of Representatives have so many crazy Republicans in it that they don't know which way is up or which way is down. They are afraid to put legislation forward which would prevent the tax increases from going into affect for fear that it would pass, believe it or not.

This is by far the nuttiest bunch of law makers we have ever seen. They are more interested in preventing the richest two percent of Americans from being taxed a little bit more than they are in protecting the middle class and the poor.

They seem determined to allow unemployment compensation from being extended, increase the payroll tax and tax middle class Americans so they don't offend their millionaire and billionaire friends. John Boehner is the most responsible because he is afraid that if the "fiscal cliff" is averted, he will lose his position of Speaker of the House, putting his career ahead of the country.

Republicans continue to seem determined to address the National Debt by placing the problem squarely on the backs of seniors and the most vulnerable.

Very disgusting to say the least.

All we can do at this point is to make phone calls to our Congressman and Senators. Please do it.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Hold On To Your Wallets

Wild eyed Republicans are on their way back to Washington D.C. with he intention of Paying down the National Debt on the backs of retirees by passing the so called Chain CPI.

Younger folks get set to take in Ma and Pa and delay your own retirement if they get their way. Now is the time to act. Let these bone heads know what you think of their incapability to govern. Give them a phone call. It's the very least you can do.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Alliance for Retired Americans Friday Alert 12-21-12

Social Security COLA Cut on Table in “Fiscal Cliff” Talks
While negotiations between President Barack Obama and House Speaker John Boehner remain stalled, disturbing media reports indicate an option on the table changing the federal statistical formula used to calculate Social Security Cost-of-Living Adjustment (COLA). “This would lower Social Security benefits for millions of seniors. Social Security did not cause our federal deficit, and retirees should not pay the price for more tax breaks for millionaires,” said Alliance President Barbara J. Easterling.

Click here to send a message to your elected Representatives! http://bit.ly/ZKBVhY

Known in policy circles as the “chained CPI,” the policy change would mean that an average earner retiring in 2011 at age 65 would lose over $6,000 over 15 years.  The change assumes that a lower COLA is acceptable because consumers could substitute cheaper products when prices go up.  Health care costs, however, consume a large amount of seniors’ income.  These costs cannot simply be substituted with a cheaper version. For example, a senior cannot save money by opting for a double bypass surgery instead of a triple bypass.  Share an Alliance fact sheet on the “chained  CPI” – http://bit.ly/Zm31wV.
 
“Congress needs to hear from seniors right away,” Easterling said, urging retirees to both call Congress and e-mail their offices. On Tuesday, retired Machinist Diane Fleming spoke at a rally at the U.S. Capitol, telling a large crowd, “It’s time to stop blaming retirees and workers for problems we did not create.”  She said, "Instead of making tax cuts for the wealthy, let us keep Medicare and Social Security strong for our children, our grandchildren and for us!” Watch here: http://bit.ly/UIXtWg.

Join with the Alliance in Supporting Locked-Out Sugar Workers
Please join with the Alliance in making a financial contribution to help support American Crystal Sugar workers who have been locked out by a management determined to increase their health care costs and outsource their work.  American Crystal’s CEO Dave Berg, who was paid nearly $2.5 million in 2011, has publicly referred to his employees who belong to the Bakery workers union as a “cancerous tumor” on the company.  The AFL-CIO has launched a nationwide consumer boycott of American Crystal Sugar products.  Join with the Alliance in supporting these workers by clicking here! http://bit.ly/UcHzGI.

Pennsylvania Alliance Fighting to Protect Funding for Seniors Programs
The Pennsylvania Alliance has joined AFSCME and other advocates across the state in a coalition to protect key seniors programs.  Governor Tom Corbett plans to turn over the management of the state lottery to a gaming firm based in the United Kingdom. The lottery provides more than $1 billion annually to programs for seniors – from paying for prescription drugs and property tax relief to funding for senior centers and nursing home care.  The Alliance and others believe the governor is hastily advancing a risky change without careful deliberation or public hearings.  “Too many seniors depend on the lottery to afford prescription drugs, stay in their homes and maintain their quality of life to allow such a rash decision to be made," said Pennsylvania Alliance president Jean Friday. Pennsylvania is the only state to devote 100% of lottery proceeds to seniors.

Join Us on Facebook by Becoming a “Fan” here: www.fb.com/retiredamericans
Would you like to receive real-time updates from Alliance activities, campaigns and breaking news? First, become a “fan.” Then, by sharing this link on your Facebook wall with friends and encouraging them to join our quickly-growing network, you can help disseminate the messages about retiree and working family news. You can also spread the messages by clicking the “share” and “like” buttons next to our posts. For example, 148 of our Facebook fans have “shared” the California flash mob video as of this morning. It has enhanced the views and awareness around this wonderful action. Similarly, 435 online activists “shared” the link to contact Congress and send a letter via the Alliance yesterday. This makes our communications even more powerful! Thanks for helping us to grow!

Beware of Holiday Scams
Like the Grinch at Christmas, there are troubling reports of a holiday season spike in consumer scams targeting seniors.  Experts say older Americans should be wary of phone calls, mail, and e-mails saying that you are eligible for prizes or other opportunities to receive money.  “We should remember the old adage ‘if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is,’” said Alliance Executive Director Edward J. Coyle. Please contact your local or state consumer protection office with questions and concerns.

Something on Your Mind? Write Letter, Win Pen!
Is there something you want retirees in your community to know about?  Take a moment to write a letter to the editor, and when published, the Alliance will send you a union-made “Retirees with the Write Stuff” pen. Letters to the editor are free and are widely read.

Most recently, Louis Albano, Steve Bickham, Nan Brasmer, Jo Etta Brown, Leon Burzynski, Jon “Yogi” Cox, Tim Cunningham, Doug Curler, Bentley Davis, Robert Dougherty, Val Jack, Marlene Koerner, Linda Kovak, Jan Laue, Charlie Lemon, Robert Lindley, Jerry Lotierzo, Dave Meinell, Gary Miszewski, Aubrey Glen Mobley, Valerie Paterson, David Rosenzweig, Tom Sedor, Sr., William Stevens, Thomas Thibeault, Pablo Trujillo, Bill Wallace, Martin Walsh, Rufus Wesley, Floyd Wright, and Jerry Zepplin contributed to their local papers. If you have had a letter published, please e-mail aracommunications@retiredamericans.org.

Happy Holidays from the Alliance
Friday Alert will return on January 4, 2013.  “May everyone find health and happiness during the holiday season. Thank you for all you do to improve the lives of current and future retirees.  Our working days may be over, but our fighting spirit burns as strong as ever,” – Barbara J. Easterling.



Wednesday, December 19, 2012

SOAR Opposes Chained CPI

Anyone watching the news or reading the newspapers about our nation’s debt ceiling has heard the term chained CPI.  But what does it mean and how does it affect us?  The Consumer Price Index (CPI) measures the average change over time in the prices paid by urban consumers for a representative market basket of consumer goods and services. The Bureau of Labor Statistics publishes the measures of price change for population groups on an annual basis.

The proposal to move to a “chained” Consumer Price Index (CPI) for making cost-of-living adjustments (COLAs) to Social Security benefits and indexing income tax will reduce benefits for current and future retirees, while increasing their taxes.

Automatic COLAs for Social Security benefits were enacted in the 1970's, to offset the Social Security beneficiary's additional expenses from one year to the next resulting from inflation.

Replacing the current system with the chained-CPI-U for purposes of calculating the Social Security COLA will reduce benefits for current and future beneficiaries. The chained-CPI-U produces lower estimates of inflation than the current CPI does. The Chief Actuary of the Social Security Administration estimates that this reduced COLA would result in a decrease of about $130 per year (0.9 percent) in benefits for a typical 65 year-old. By the time a senior reaches 95, the annual benefit cut will be almost $1400, a 9.2 percent reduction from currently scheduled benefits.

The growing effect of these reductions means that the lop-sided impact will be felt by Social Security's oldest beneficiaries. These are often women who have outlived their other sources of income, and rely on Social Security as their only lifeline to financial stability. Younger beneficiaries, who have sources of income other than Social Security, may find themselves hit from another direction as well - increased taxes.

A recent report, prepared for Congress, states that these increases would fall mainly on lower and middle-income taxpayers. For example, the tax liability for those with incomes between $10,000 and $20,000 would increase by 14.5 percent, and 3.5 percent for incomes between $20,000 and $30,000, while those with incomes of $1 million and above would see an increase of only 0.1 percent.

SOAR opposes use of the chained CPI-U for calculating Social Security COLAs. This is a benefit cut for current and future beneficiaries.  Any discussion of Social Security should be off the table in debt reduction discussions. Social Security did not cause the nation's debt problems and Social Security beneficiaries, who worked all of their lives and paid into the system, should not be expected to pay for the nation's fiscal mistakes.

There is no question that the nation's debt problem must be addressed, but Social Security beneficiaries should not be asked to bear the burden of solving this problem when Social Security, with its self-financing framework, has not contributed to this situation.

Connie Entrekin, SOAR President

Monday, December 17, 2012

I have guns but I'm not a "gun lover"


I have guns but I’m not a “gun lover”

My first gun was given to me when I was in kindergarten. It was a shiny new revolver cap pistol and I loved it. All the kids in my neighborhood dressed in cowboy hats and had their cap pistols, holsters, and cowboy shirts. We exchanged the latest cowboy comic books and I suppose I was at that time, a gun lover.

When in sixth grade, Santa brought me a Red Ryder BB gun. Wow, what a Christmas that was. Although warned by parents that we were not to shoot our BB guns at anyone, we would actually chose up sides and have BB gun “wars” out in the woods. What a great time, and besides the occasional sting of a BB on the leg or arm, nobody was seriously hurt.

Later on, I was given a 22 caliber single shot bolt action Remngton rifle from Sears. I used it for hunting squirrels and I still have that rifle and use it once in a while when I get the urge to plink at a few cans in the back yard.

In 1965, I bought my first hand gun. A Smith and Wesson service revolver. I bought it so I would at least have something on hand for protection at home.

My favorite gun is a single shot 4/10 shot gun. I use it to whack the occasional raccoon that discovers my garden or sits in my peach trees for his dinner.

My Dad used to get magazines from the NRA which used to be really interesting. I was given a couple of their magazines a few weeks ago. After leafing through them, I went to the NRA web site and discovered that this organization has changed ……. and not for the better. It seems to be purely a political organization.

Today, since the carnage in Connecticut where 20 children and 7 adults were murdered in an elementary school, I once again went to the NRA web site. Not a thing was mentioned about this massacre.

Today, I can’t call myself a “gun lover” although I do take reasonable care of my guns. I’m not afraid one bit of the government taking my guns away but at the same time believe something has to be done and I encourage my legislators to study the problem we have in this country and do something about it. 

It could be that nothing can be done to totally eliminate gun violence, but certainly we could do something about taking care of the mentally ill and making sure that background checks are given to every sale of a gun.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Alliance for Retired Americans Friday Alert 12-14-12

A Sign of Hope that the Medicare Eligibility Age will not Rise
One of President Barack Obama's top Senate allies says he's been assured by the White House that the President won't yield to GOP demands to increase the eligibility age for Medicare. AP reports that Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) made the revelation to reporters on Thursday, after a Capitol Hill news conference. Increasing the eligibility age is a key demand by Republicans seeking cost curbs in popular benefit programs in exchange for higher tax revenues. Durbin said he's been told that increasing the eligibility age from 65 is “no longer one of the items being considered by the White House.” On Tuesday, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (CA) had written in USA Today that Republicans want to raise the eligibility age as part of any fiscal cliff deal (http://usat.ly/SkqZpm).

“We must remain vigilant – there is still a whole lot of risk,” said Barbara J. Easterling, President of the Alliance. “Other threats to Medicare, such as additional means testing, remain on the table. Call your U.S. Representative and Senators toll-free at 888-659-9401. Tell Congress, ‘No cuts to Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. And end the tax breaks for the wealthiest 2%.’”

102 House Members Send Letter Promising to Vote against Social Security Cuts
A group of 102 Representatives presented Speaker Boehner with a letter last Thursday informing him they would not be willing to support any cuts to Social Security for current or future retirees. Ms. Easterling stated, “We wish to thank the many Members of Congress who signed this letter. They have confirmed their intention to stand with America’s retirees, and for that we are deeply grateful.” To see the letter, go to http://bit.ly/UdExPd.

For a clear, concise video of Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) explaining the Chained CPI, a formula change that would lower future Social Security cost of living adjustments, go to http://bit.ly/ZlbuiM.

A poll from Congressional Connection has joined the list of surveys showing that the public opposes benefit cuts to Social Security and Medicare. More at http://bit.ly/UtFYrg.

Michigan Governor Signs Right-to-Work for Less Legislation
Over the chants of thousands of angry protesters, Republican lawmakers made Michigan a right-to-work state on Tuesday, dealing a devastating blow to a state that has been a bastion of the labor movement for generations.

The GOP-dominated state House ignored Democrats’ pleas to delay the final passage and instead approved two bills quickly – just as the state Senate did last week. One measure dealt with private-sector workers, the other with government employees. Republican Gov. Rick Snyder signed them both within hours. Right to work laws make union participation and fees optional, as opposed to mandatory. Michigan became the 24th state to enact right to work for less laws.

Despite what their proponents say, these laws are harmful to workers. They allow their employers to pay them less, give them fewer sick days, and skimp on safety measures, because the unions are not as capable of holding employers responsible for their actions. According to the Economic Policy Institute, the average worker in ‘right-to-work’ state earns $1,500 less each year. “Retirees know firsthand the benefits of a strong union and fully support today’s workers,” said Edward F. Coyle, Executive Director of the Alliance.

Candlelight Vigils Drive Home the Point: Don’t Cut Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid
On Monday, hundreds of Alliance members joined working families in a national Candlelight Campaign to urge Congress to say no to cuts to benefits for Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, and to end tax cuts for the richest 2%. Working families across the country commemorated International Human Rights Day and held candlelight vigils, town halls, rallies and other events to highlight the right to health care and the right to retire with dignity. A few highlights from the dozens of Alliance events:video footage of a San Francisco California Alliance flash mob at http://youtu.be/i_kok6Y73_A; a photo from the Dallas Morning News of members of the Texas Alliance, Texas Progress and MoveOn protesting outside Sen. John Cornyn's office in Dallas at http://dallasne.ws/UdC1bN; and Maryland/DC Alliance members in Baltimore urging Rep. Elijah Cummings to stay strong against cuts at http://bit.ly/XiyEAS. More at http://bit.ly/SoCdcd. Also, North Carolina Alliance pictures are at http://bit.ly/VGfFyJ.

Democrats Announce Senate Committee Assignments
The U.S. Senate Democrats released their committee assignments for the 113th Congress, which begins on January 3, 2013. The link is at http://1.usa.gov/QXqzmY.

On Committees that most affect Alliance issues and programs, some of seniors’ best friends have won seats. Sen. Sherrod Brown (OH) goes on Finance (Social Security, taxation, much of Medicare and health care) along with Sen. Michael Bennet (CO). Sens. Tammy Baldwin (WI), Chris Murphy (CT) and Elizabeth Warren (MA) go on HELP (Health, Education, Labor and Pensions – labor and pension issues, parts of Medicare and health care); Sen. Bill Nelson (FL) becomes the new chair of the Aging Committee (which has oversight but no legislative jurisdiction on aging issues) and Sens. Baldwin, Joe Donnelly (IN), and Warren are new members; Sen. Patty Murray (WA) becomes the new Budget Committee chair, and Sens. Baldwin, Tim Kaine (VA) and Angus King (ME) are new members. Sen. Bernie Sanders (VT) will chair the Veterans Affairs Committee and Sen. Mazie Hirono (HI) will join it.
The House has not made its assignments yet. “Alliance activists should feel great pride in the officials they worked hard to elect and re-elect,” said Ruben Burks, Secretary-Treasurer of the Alliance. “Our work during the elections clearly made a huge difference.”

Ohio Alliance Welcomes a New State President
The Ohio Alliance has a new State President: Norm Wernet, a longtime organizer for the Ohio Alliance. “I would like to offer Norm a warm, ‘welcome back,’” said Mr. Coyle. “He has always achieved great success, even in the face of daunting challenges of geography, a difficult economy, and an often hostile political climate.”


For a printable version of this document, go to http://bit.ly/SpUG8n.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

A Law Based On Lies, Deception and False Promises

INDIANAPOLIS – Following Governor Snyder's signature of the so-called "Right to Work" law in Michigan last night, Indiana AFL-CIO President Nancy Guyott issued the following statement this morning:

"Sadly today the people of Michigan became the latest to fall victim to the lies, deception and false promises of so-called "right to work. As we witnessed in Indiana, the forces of corporate greed will stop at nothing to silence workers' voices in order to drive down wages and increase their profits.

The playbook is largely the same. Elect a governor, who promises not to support this divisive and unnecessary legislation, only to go back on his word. Secure a legislature dominated by one party. Bring in out of state interest groups to spend wheelbarrows of money on advertising to confuse the issue. And, finally, shut the public out of the legislative process by barring public input, ignoring independent research and even locking the doors of the Statehouse.

It begs the question, if "right to work" is the silver bullet its proponents claim it to be, then why is it only passed into law under such undemocratic circumstances?

The answer is clear. "Right to work" is a lie. It has nothing to do with economic development or jobs. It's about power and politics. Corporations want to lower wages and undermine working conditions and politicians want to punish those who dare to disagree with them.

Since passage in Indiana, the governor and the laws' proponents have continued the deception with false claims that companies are moving to the state as a result. In Indiana, we've seen firsthand the pressure put on companies to say this legislation impacted their decisions by state officials who make financial rewards to them when one was brave enough to stand up and deny it played a role. No matter their claims, the truth is that no employer has gone on record saying that such legislation was the determinative factor in a decision to locate to Indiana. Not one.

Hoosiers stand in solidarity with our brothers and sisters in Michigan as we fight to repeal this bad law and to restore the rights of working people. Indiana has passed and repealed it once before, and we will repeal it again. And, so will Michigan.

The fight has just begun."

The Indiana State AFL-CIO (American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations) is a federation of 800 local unions across the state belonging to 50 International Unions. In total, the Indiana State AFL-CIO represents more than 300,000 working Hoosiers.

For more information on please visit www.inaflcio.org [ http://www.inaflcio.org ] or call 1-800-433-8423.


###

Monday, December 10, 2012

Republican will lose the next election

What happened in Indiana by passing the "right to work" law allowing scab, mooching, cheapskates in Indiana to be able to take advantage of a union's bargaining power without paying their fair share to help pay for the resulting benefits is now happening in Michigan.

Republican anti labor politicians will learn that this tactic will eventually backfire.

They all should lose the next election.



Friday, December 07, 2012

Alliance for Retired Americans Friday Alert 12-7-12

Alliance Member Dines with Vice President Biden
Maryland/DC Alliance member David Waugh of Bethesda, Maryland had lunch with Vice President Joe Biden today. Waugh was selected to attend the lunch at an Arlington, Virginia diner, because he and his wife are part of the 98% of Americans whose taxes will go up if Congress doesn’t act to extend the middle class tax cuts. Waugh has stated that allowing middle tax class cuts to expire would mean increased difficulties in meeting monthly living expenses such as rent, utilities, car expenses, health care needs, and food. Six other people who would be seriously affected by higher taxes for the middle class also attended the luncheon. Vice President Biden said that it would take “15 minutes” for a bill to get done if House Speaker John Boehner agreed to let taxes on the wealthy go up.

Waugh added, “If my taxes were higher, it would be harder to help my son, who faces high medical bills.”

Fiscal Cliff Talks Continue as Republicans Put a Plan on the Table
House GOP leaders endorsed a debt-reduction plan on Monday that would raise tax collections by $800 billion over the next decade, but they refused to budge on higher tax rates for the wealthy. Boehner outlined the proposal in a Monday letter to President Obama in which he said the GOP will not support any plan that increases tax rates.

Boehner is using the plan of Erskine Bowles, a co-chair of President Obama’s National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, as the basis for the Republican plan. The plan would gradually increase the Medicare eligibility age from 65 to 67, and implement a less generous formula for calculating cost of living adjustments in Social Security – the “Chained CPI.”

The GOP’s offer does not offer details on how to raise $800 billion in revenue, other than to call for closing loopholes and lowering marginal rates. The letter was signed by Boehner, and the rest of the GOP’s leadership team, including former vice-presidential nominee Paul Ryan. Boehner (R-Ohio) also proposed an unspecified formula for means testing Medicare benefits.

President Obama's proposal, introduced in late November, raises taxes on the wealthiest 2%, fixes the Medicare “doc fix” for physician payments, provides stimulus and mortgage refinance funding, and extends unemployment insurance. It calls for $1.6 trillion in new tax revenue, $50 billion in stimulus funds and effectively ends Congressional control over the debt ceiling.

A new Quinnipiac poll shows that 65% favor raising taxes on families earning $250,000 or more.

Alliance members have now sent more than 9,300 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.

Alliance members have also joined other groups in calling Congress in large numbers, and many have reported back with a message about how those calls are going. “We are particularly heartened to see messages like we received from one senior, who said that he had a 35-person phone tree that he contacted when he got our request to call the Capitol,” said Barbara J. Easterling, President of the Alliance. “Thank you to all of our activists who have contacted Congress. Alliance members always come through when we need them most.”

Alliance joins AFGE, Other Groups in Protesting to Protect Social Security
Activists picketed outside a hundred Social Security offices around the country on Wednesday, telling lawmakers to keep Social Security out of the “fiscal cliff” negotiations on Capitol Hill. Organized by AFGE - the American Federation of Government Employees - the coordinated protests in 22 states also included members from the Alliance for Retired Americans, the AFL-CIO, and the American Federation of Teachers, among others.

The demonstrations were designed to send a message to politicians that making changes to the Social Security program is not the answer to the fiscal cliff problem. If a deal on the debt is not reached by year’s end, automatic spending cuts and furloughs for some federal workers could ensue. According to AFGE officials, SSA could be forced to slash its budget by more than 5 percent, leading to a hiring freeze and a net loss of more than 3,000 administration employees. A “grand bargain” – a deal that includes Social Security cuts – could have a similar impact.

Alliance Secretary-Treasurer Ruben Burks explained, “Social Security Administration cuts would not just be bad for SSA employees. They would lead to backlogs in claims and inferior customer service for seniors, the disabled, the poor, and families that have lost a parent or spouse – all of whom rely on Social Security.”

AFSCME Retiree Director Steve Regenstreif to Retire; Ann Widger to be New Director
After 40 years with AFSCME, Retiree Director Steve Regenstreif has decided to retire. Since becoming Director of the AFSCME Retirees, the union’s retiree membership has grown from 13,000 dues paying members in six retiree chapters to 250,000 retirees in over 260 state and local groups.  Prior to working with the AFSCME Retirees, Steve was based in New York and played a leading role in the permanent affiliation of the 220,000 – member Civil Service Employees Association (CSEA), which brought the AFSCME membership to the one million mark.

Alliance Executive Director Edward F. Coyle said, “On behalf of the Alliance, I want to congratulate Steve on his upcoming retirement and thank him for all he has done for us. For years, ha has been a strong leader in uniting and mobilizing seniors. There has been no greater supporter of the Alliance at the local, state, or federal level. Every cycle, Steve has generously supported our political efforts and acted as an unyielding defender of public sector employees and retirees for all they have achieved and earned.”

As of January 1st, Ann Widger will become the Director of the AFSCME Retirees.  Coyle continued, “We look forward to working with Ann, who is also a major supporter of the Alliance and a great friend to seniors.” Karen Gilgoff will continue her service as Assistant Director of the Department.
For a printable version of this document, go to http://bit.ly/TPKGAU.

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Republicans Are Not In Touch

For Immediate Release – December 3, 2012

Contact: Josh Goldstein 202-637-5018

Statement by AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka

On Republican Budget Letter to President Obama


Republicans in Congress are not in touch with their constituents. They do not seem to understand that they lost the last election because voters rejected their agenda.

And now they are recycling more of the same agenda that was overwhelmingly rejected in November: lower tax rates for the richest Americans and benefit cuts for Social Security and Medicare.

Today the House Republican leadership put forward a plan that would squander trillions of dollars by extending tax cuts for the richest 2% of Americans and lowering top tax rates even further.

Speaker Boehner claims this proposal is a “compromise” because it includes $800 billion in tax revenues from closing unspecified “loopholes.”  But this is the same “fuzzy math” that Gov. Romney tried to sell in the last presidential campaign.  We know from the debate over Gov. Romney’s plan that this sort of “loophole closing” either increases taxes on the middle class or increases the deficit.

At the same time, Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell is proposing benefit cuts to Social Security and Medicare.  In an interview with the Wall Street Journal on Friday, he argued for cutting Social Security COLAs, raising the eligibility age for Medicare, and increasing premiums for higher-income Medicare beneficiaries.

It is ironic that Republicans unfairly attacked President Obama during the campaign for cutting Medicare, and now they are turning around and proposing Medicare benefits cuts.  This is an agenda that spares the wealthiest Americans from any sacrifice and shifts the burden to working people.

We reject Speaker Boehner’s outlandish claim that this was a “status quo” election.  We reject the Republican agenda of lowering tax rates for rich people and cutting benefits for Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.  And specifically, we reject cuts in Social Security COLAs, increases in the Medicare eligibility age, increases in Medicare premiums, and any reduction in the top individual income tax rates below 36% and 39.6%.

We challenge Republicans in Congress to heed the lesson of the November election and work with us to put America back to work, raise wages, restore tax fairness, and rebuild the middle class.

Statement online here: http://www.aflcio.org/Press-Room/Press-Releases/Statement-by-AFL-CIO-President-Richard-Trumka-On-Republican-Budget-Letter-to-President-Obama

For the latest updates, follow @AFLCIO and @RichardTrumka on Twitter.

Monday, December 03, 2012

Buy American Made Products

The American factory played a big role in campaign commercials this year and candidates appealed directly to manufacturing workers on jobs, trade and China. In Cleveland, Ohio,  alone, couch potatoes witnessed 5,000 commercial spots highlighting trade. Talk about overload! Now that the election is over, we have another slew of commercials to contend with. If you watch TV, you are well aware of the steep discounts for early birds, and the buy-one-get-one-free deals that seem too good to be true.

The holiday season has arrived and the average American will spend $704 on holiday gifts and goodies this year, totaling more than $465 billion. We can all put the focus back on jobs and American manufacturing with as little as $64. Congress isn’t the only group of people that can support job creation. We all can help create jobs in this country by buying American-made products.  

If every one of us spent just $64 a year more on American-made products, we could create 200,000 new jobs here at home, not overseas. Ask your local retailers to stock more American made products, look at your labels and most importantly, share this information with your family. Buying American helps keep real people in real jobs across America, and it means safe, high-quality gifts for your family and friends. For information on American made products visit http://americanmanufacturing.org/blog/fashionfriday.   Happy Shopping!

Rachel Bennett Steury, AAM Field Coordinator

Sunday, December 02, 2012

Thanks and The Fight Goes On

I would like to extend a thank you and appreciation to all who made this recent election a success for seniors and the middle class. Any efforts, including those of talking to family members, friends and neighbors, made a difference. Many SOAR members dedicated hours and days getting the message out to voters.

I know it wasn’t easy. The Republicans and their big money donors out spent us 10 to 1. Overcoming the lies, myths and misleading propaganda was a challenge, especially in face of the folks at FOX news. But, we did it, and it proves that money and the influence of the millionaires and billionaires can be overcome by the strength of the seniors, the young, minorities and the working-middleclass and their unions.

Our fight is not over. As I write this I hear talk about the “fiscal cliff,” the federal budget and what the President and Congress may do about it. I also hear that the Republicans expect and are demanding that entitlements must be addressed.

What they are referring to includes Social Security and Medicare. The fact is that neither of these programs has any immediate impact on the budget. Social Security is in good shape for the next 23 plus years, and has no impact on the budget (except for what the government owes it). Medicare is funded for the next ten years. Any financial issues with these programs can effectively be addressed long after the immediate problems with the federal budget and, therefore, should not be part of the scare tactics. And further more, these social programs have been and are being paid for and should not be viewed as entitlements, but earned benefits.

Bill Gibbons, PACE Representative

Saturday, December 01, 2012

How to Address the Fiscal Cliff

The reelection of Barack Obama is truly a historical moment in our nation’s history. I too would like to add my thanks and admiration to all of you who worked so hard on this election.  The success we all just witnessed would never have happened if it wasn’t for the dedication and tireless effort of the thousands of volunteers that donated their time and effort to the USW political program. Our union is well aware of SOAR’s participation and the role our leadership and members played in its success.

As SOAR President, Connie Entrekin has said, we should all take a small break and celebrate our victory. Then, it is back to work! We will need to be the driving force for our agenda. It will not get done if we sit back and wait for it to happen.

Already, there are forces at work that want to make drastic cuts in Medicare and Social Security; that will cripple our recovery to avert the so called “fiscal cliff,” to address our nation’s deficit. This is the wrong approach. The best way to address the deficit is to put people back to work.

On Election Day, Americans firmly rejected the far-right Republican agenda of job-killing budget cuts. We voted with a mandate for strengthening the middle class and putting people back to work in good paying American jobs. We voted to invest in jobs and education, not for cuts to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.

It is once again time to make your voices heard. Call your members of Congress at 888-659-9401 and tell them to oppose benefit cuts to Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security and to end the Bush tax cuts for the richest 2%.

Jim Centner, SOAR Director