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Alliance for Retired Americans Friday Alert 9-6-13

This Grandparents Day, Talk with Your Grandchildren about Retirement Security!
Speaker Boehner Talks about Using Debt Limit to Go after Social Security
By Replacing Defined Benefit Pensions, 401(k) Plans are Increasing Inequality
Rhode Island Alliance Bestows the Hero Award on Rep. Langevin
Illinois Alliance Holds its Sixth Constitutional Convention

This Grandparents Day, Talk with Your Grandchildren about Retirement Security!
This Sunday, September 8th, is Grandparents Day. The holiday presents a unique opportunity for intergenerational conversations about retirement security. While Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid are often considered seniors’ issues, they are important for all generations. Since many seniors live with other family members, any cuts to their benefits affect the entire household. A growing number of baby boomers will soon be seeking long term care services, and almost every American family will have to decide what services they need and can afford. We must address a coming shortage of long term care providers and work together to preserve Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. Please click here to share a story:

“Far too often, politicians and pundits try to pit one generation against the other to advance their own agendas,” said Doug Hart, President of the Arizona Alliance, and Laura Jasso, Co-Chair of the Arizona Grandparent Ambassadors. “This is insulting because it assumes people only care about themselves and others their own age. Grandparents Day is an occasion for generations to come together to improve the lives of people of all ages. Let’s not be the last generation to retire.”

Speaker Boehner Talks about Using Debt Limit to Go after Social Security
House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), speaking about cutting Social Security benefits at a recent Republican fundraiser in Idaho, said, “We're going to have a whale of a fight.” Boehner went on to say, “I've made it clear that we're not going to increase the debt limit without cuts and reforms that are greater than the increase in the debt limit.” According to the Idaho Statesman, Boehner also said that getting the GOP-controlled House to agree to raise the U.S. debt ceiling will only come with a bipartisan deal to make cost-saving changes to Social Security, Medicaid, Medicare, farm programs and government pensions. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew has said that President Obama will not negotiate over the issue. The nation is fast approaching the limit on its ability to borrow and could reach it by mid-October. More at

“Already, this year’s budget cuts due to sequestration have hurt seniors in many ways,” said Edward F. Coyle, Executive Director of the Alliance. "There are now 4 million fewer Meals on Wheels. Two million fewer rides for seniors to their doctors.  300,000 seniors lost home heating assistance. Too many people in Washington want those with the least to sacrifice the most. We can’t allow the debt ceiling to be used as a tool to make that pattern worse.”

By Replacing Defined Benefit Pensions, 401(k) Plans are Increasing Inequality
According to a new analysis from Monique Morrissey and Natalie Sabadish at the Economic Policy Institute (EPI), the 401(k) plans that displaced many defined benefit pension plans over the last 20 years have contributed to inequality among retirees. The study found that in recent decades, retirement savings for the wealthiest Americans have increased considerably. At the same time, however, ordinary Americans have struggled to save for retirement. In the last two decades, the number of people participating in an employer-based retirement plan has dropped. This decline has been especially pronounced among minorities and those without a college degree.  To learn more, read a Washington Post article about the study at and view the EPI report at

“It should come as no surprise that 401(k) plans, which often place the burden of retirement savings entirely on employees, are increasing inequality,” said Barbara J. Easterling, President of the Alliance. “The decline in defined benefit pensions means that Social Security, which is structured to benefit people of all income levels, is more important than ever.”

Rhode Island Alliance Bestows the Hero Award on Rep. Langevin
Last Friday, Rhode Island Alliance President John Pernorio presented Rep. Jim Langevin (D-RI) with its 2013 Social Security & Medicare Hero Award, in recognition of his outstanding leadership and support for Rhode Island seniors, the disabled, and veterans. Rep. Langevin told the 100 Johnston, RI Senior Center attendees at the award ceremony that he will continue to vote to block any cuts to Social Security and Medicare, including: efforts to privatize Social Security and implement the Chained CPI to calculate the yearly cost-of –living adjustment (COLA); Medicare vouchers; means testing for Medicare; and raising the retirement age. Also attending the celebration was Johnston, RI Mayor Joseph Polisena, who agreed wholeheartedly that Rep. Langevin is a hero. To see photos from the event, go to

More Seniors Choosing To Live in Urban Areas
According to data from Redfin, an online real estate brokerage, over a million members of the baby boom generation moved to areas within 5 miles of a city center between 2000 and 2010. Seniors who have moved from suburbs to the city cite their desire to be able to walk and take efficient public transportation to get from place to place instead of relying on cars. Many retirees also prefer to live in a smaller condo or apartment rather than maintaining large houses and gardens that are no longer necessary once their children have left home. To learn more about this trend, read a Washington Post article on the issue at

“As more seniors relocate from suburbs to cities, it is important for urban areas to ensure that they provide a safe, comfortable environment for older Americans,” said Ruben Burks, Secretary-Treasurer of the Alliance. “Vibrant senior centers, senior-friendly public transportation, and access to quality health care all go a long way to make sure that seniors feel welcome in their new cities.”

Illinois Alliance Holds its Sixth Constitutional Convention
One hundred and sixteen Illinois activists attended the Illinois Alliance convention in Ottawa, Illinois on Wednesday. Speakers included Ms. Easterling and Michael Carrigan, President of the Illinois AFL-CIO. Re-elected to office were: Barbara Franklin, President; Homer K. Spaulding, Executive Vice President; Katie Jordan, Treasurer; and Jane Russell, Secretary. It was the Illinois chapter's 6th Constitutional Convention, and it was the largest attendance the group has had since their founding.

“Illinois is such an important state in every congressional election, and we are fortunate to have so many politically savvy seniors here,” said Ms. Easterling.

For a printable version of this document, go to


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