Friday, September 27, 2013

Friday Alert, 9-27-13

Headlines:
Latest on a Possible Shutdown of the Federal Government
Debt Ceiling: A Threat to Social Security and Medicare
Human Chain Event to Take Place on October 3 at the U.S. Capitol
Rep. Linda Sanchez’s Social Security Legislation Already Has 30 Co-sponsors
Social Security Benefits Likely to be Paid on Time Even if There is a Shutdown

Latest on a Possible Shutdown of the Federal Government
On Thursday, top House Republican leaders rejected the short-term spending plan expected to be passed by the Senate in coming days, increasing the possibility of a government shutdown next week. Asked if the House would pass the bill unchanged once it is sent from the Senate, Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) replied, “I do not see that happening.”

According to The Washington Post, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), using rules allowing him to change the wording of a spending measure passed last week by the House, is expected to strip out language that would defund the health reform law, change the expiration date on the funding bill to Nov. 15, and pass the measure with a simple majority achieved entirely with Democratic votes.

Once the bill returns to the House, any move to change it would by necessity mean that the fight over funding the government would almost certainly continue at least until the final minutes of the fiscal year late on Monday night, since the Senate’s rules would make swift consideration unlikely. More at http://tinyurl.com/p92kxgg.

Debt Ceiling: A Threat to Social Security and Medicare
While a relatively short shutdown may not imperil Social Security beneficiaries, the failure by lawmakers to raise the nation's borrowing limit could.

“The biggest risk to Social Security payments is the debt ceiling,” said Charles Konigsberg, who was assistant director of the White House budget office during the last shutdown.

If the ceiling isn't raised, the Treasury Department will eventually run short of funds to pay all its bills. The debt limit will be reached “no later than October 17,” Treasury secretary Jack Lew wrote to Speaker Boehner on Wednesday.

According to Bloomberg News, Senate Republicans have a strategy for lifting the U.S. borrowing limit: offer what President Barack Obama asked for in his budget, then dare him to refuse. Republicans would be willing to replace some of the $1.2 trillion in automatic spending cuts to domestic and military programs over the next nine years in exchange for cuts to Social Security and Medicare, Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) said.

In July, the House Ways and Means Committee, which oversees tax policy, released drafts that include the Chained CPI formula to cut Social Security benefits, along with reducing payments to hospitals and other providers under Medicare. The ideas were borrowed from President Obama’s fiscal 2014 budget and proposals put forward by his 2010 deficit-reduction commission. By contrast, in their budget plans, Republicans advocated converting Medicare to a voucher program and changing Medicaid to a state-based block-grant system. More at http://tinyurl.com/nhxxmce.

Human Chain Event to Take Place on October 3 at the U.S. Capitol
The Congressional Progressive Caucus plans to host a Human Chain press conference in opposition to the Chained CPI next Thursday, October 3 at 10 a.m. at the House Triangle. This Human Chain press conference follows the success of nationwide Human Chain events organized by the Alliance for Retired Americans in conjunction with our coalition partners on July 2, 2013.  The July 2 events took place in more than 50 cities with support from the labor movement, Social Security Works, and other allies. More than 20 Members of Congress have agreed to participate on October 3.  If you are in the DC area, please RSVP to attend here: http://tinyurl.com/oqq278r. Regardless of where you are, join the event remotely and share it with your friends and allies via this Facebook event: http://tinyurl.com/pylbnof.

“Activists are going to be heard at the right time – while budget issues are red-hot,” said Barbara J. Easterling, President of the Alliance.

Rep. Linda Sanchez’s Social Security Legislation Already Has 30 Co-sponsors
For a list of current cosponsors of H.R. 3118, the Strengthening Social Security Act of 2013 introduced by Rep. Linda Sanchez, (D-CA), go to http://tinyurl.com/ps8zvxa. Instead of offering a cold, calculated benefit cut like the Chained CPI, this legislation would actually increase annual Social Security benefits by an average of $800. “By using a cost-of-living formula like the CPI-E that more accurately reflects the expenses of Social Security beneficiaries, and by raising the cap on taxable income so that the wealthiest Americans pay their fair share towards Social Security, we can extend the life of the Social Security Trust Fund and provide better benefits to Americans who worked hard their entire lives,” said Edward F. Coyle, Executive Director of the Alliance.

Social Security Benefits Likely to be Paid on Time Even if There is a Shutdown
According to CNN, in the event of a shutdown, it's very likely that the nearly 58 million people who receive Social Security benefits would still be paid on time. The money used to fund Social Security benefits is automatically authorized and not dependent on Congress coming to a compromise on a new federal spending measure by Monday night. However, what isn't automatically authorized is the money that Congress appropriates every year to run the Social Security Administration and pay its employees to process those benefits.

During the last two government shutdowns in the mid-1990s, Social Security checks were sent out on schedule. That happened even though the Social Security Administration was grossly understaffed during the first -- and shorter -- of the two shutdowns. It had kept on just under 5,000 employees. Once it realized how many more were needed to carry out essential duties, the agency was quick to staff up. By the second shutdown, which lasted 21 days, the agency required the majority of its employees (55,992) to keep coming to work, furloughing just 10,203 workers.

“Applicants for new benefits would be in much greater danger of facing delays than current beneficiaries would,” said Ruben Burks, Secretary-Treasurer of the Alliance.

For a printable version of this document, go to http://bit.ly/15yQa8I

Friday, September 20, 2013

Alliance for Retired Americans Friday Alert 9-20-13

Headlines:
Rep. Linda Sanchez Introduces the Strengthening Social Security Act in U.S. House
Census Data: Social Security Kept Over 15 Million Americans Out of Poverty in 2012
Minimum Wage and Overtime Protections Extended to Home Care Workers
Missouri Alliance Helps Defeat Dangerous Anti-Senior and Anti-Union Legislation
New Hampshire Alliance Demonstrates in Front of Senator Ayotte’s Office
New Film Exposes Rise of Income Inequality in America
Detroit Retirees at Risk of Losing Pensions Tell Their Stories in Court

Rep. Linda Sanchez Introduces the Strengthening Social Security Act in U.S. House
This week, Rep. Linda Sanchez (D-CA), introduced the Strengthening Social Security Act, H.R. 3118, in the U.S. House of Representatives. The bill would increase Social Security benefits by approximately $70 per month by modifying the formula used to calculate benefits. In sharp contrast to the chained CPI benefit cut, the Strengthening Social Security Act would also increase Social Security Cost of Living Adjustments (COLA’s) by using a COLA formula that more accurately reflects the living expenses of Social Security beneficiaries. The bill also extends the life of the Social Security trust fund by gradually eliminating the payroll tax cap so that the wealthiest Americans contribute their fair share. The bill is the House companion to S. 567, introduced by Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) in March. You can learn more about the Strengthening Social Security Act at http://tinyurl.com/nuyd7zs. To ask your Representative to co-sponsor the bill, go to http://tinyurl.com/l3lhvp2.

“At a time when the retirement income deficit is $6.6 trillion, the American people are calling for strengthening – not cutting – Social Security,” said Barbara J. Easterling, President of the Alliance. “It is essential that Congress work to strengthen this lifeline of retirement, disability and survivors’ security to ensure that Americans of all ages can count on the benefits that they have been promised.”

Census Data: Social Security Kept Over 15 Million Americans Out of Poverty in 2012
According to a new report released by the U.S. Census Bureau, the country’s poverty rate and real household median income (adjusted for inflation) have remained essentially unchanged since last year’s report. This is an improvement over recent years, when poverty increased and median household income declined. The report also included a Supplemental Poverty Measure (SPM), which gauges the impact of various federal benefit programs on poverty. According to the SPM, Social Security kept 15.3 million people out of poverty in 2012. The data also revealed that out of pocket medical costs are the most common cause of poverty. Go to http://tinyurl.com/kxqwn5e to view the report. Analysis from thinkprogress.com is at http://tinyurl.com/lopbek5, and the Economic Policy Institute has some of the key numbers at http://tinyurl.com/k5mqy3b.

“While it is good news that the bleeding from the great recession appears to have halted, we need more than just stagnation,” said Edward F. Coyle, Executive Director of the Alliance. “Wall Street may have recovered from the recession, but the vast majority of Americans, including seniors, are still struggling to stay on their feet. In these economically perilous times, Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid are more important than ever.”

Minimum Wage and Overtime Protections Extended to Home Care Workers
The Obama administration announced this week that home care workers who care for seniors and disabled Americans will be covered under the Fair Labor Standards Act starting in 2015. This means that it will be legally required for home care workers to be paid at least minimum wage and to receive time-and-a-half overtime payment when they work more than 40 hours a week. The majority of American workers already receive these protections, but home care workers have been exempt because they were classified as “companionship services,” the same category as baby sitters. The New York Times has more information on the new protections at http://tinyurl.com/lb2qkw8.

“This decision is good news for seniors as well as for home care workers,” said Ruben Burks, Secretary-Treasurer of the Alliance. “The number of older Americans requiring assistance at home is expected to double by 2030. By providing home care workers with fair compensation for their labor, we can ensure that there will be more high quality workers to meet this need.”

Missouri Alliance Helps Defeat Dangerous Anti-Senior and Anti-Union Legislation
Thanks to the hard work of a broad coalition of activists, including the Missouri Alliance for Retired Americans, two toxic bills were defeated by a bipartisan coalition in Missouri’s General Assembly last week. One piece of legislation, HB 253, would have implemented a tax on seniors’ prescription drugs and forced cuts to education and health care in order to pay for tax cuts on the wealthiest Missourians. The other, SB 29, would have weakened public employee unions and hurt thousands of middle class workers. The Kansas City Star has more at http://tinyurl.com/mta5yto.

“We are very proud of the Missouri Alliance and their allies,” said Ms. Easterling. “These extremist bills were supported by corporate money and lobbyists, but they proved to be no match for a dedicated group of activists.”

New Hampshire Alliance Demonstrates in Front of Senator Ayotte’s Office
The New Hampshire Alliance for Retired Americans has organized weekly demonstrations in front of the Manchester office of Senator Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) to ask her to protect retirees in the upcoming Congressional budget battles. Retirees wave signs and blow whistles to make sure Senator Ayotte gets the message loud and clear: No cuts to Social Security benefits! The latest demonstration was held yesterday. For a photo, go to http://tinyurl.com/lkyamc2.

New Film Exposes Rise of Income Inequality in America
Inequality for All, a new film featuring former U.S. Secretary of Labor Robert Reich, is coming to theaters on September 27th. The film documents the dramatic increase in income inequality in America in the last thirty years through gripping personal stories, interviews with experts, and compelling graphics.  To find a showing of the movie near you, go to http://tinyurl.com/nj6d3ae.

Detroit Retirees at Risk of Losing Pensions Tell Their Stories in Court
This Thursday, over 50 Detroit residents spoke out against the city’s decision to file for bankruptcy at a court hearing held by Judge Steven Rhodes, who is hearing the bankruptcy case. The speakers included many retirees who are at risk of losing their hard earned pensions due to the bankruptcy. These men and women told compelling stories of working thirty years or more at physically demanding jobs, only to be at risk of falling into poverty if their pensions and medical benefits are cut or eliminated. Rhodes said that he will consider the retirees’ testimony in making his final decision on Detroit’s eligibility to file for bankruptcy, which will come after an Oct. 23rd trial. The Detroit Free Press has more on the hearing at http://tinyurl.com/kopyago.

For a printable version of this document, go to http://bit.ly/16uYcjg

The Ship of Fear

My Destroyer, the U.S.S. Walker, was tied up in Pearl Harbor.

The Newspaper headlines for several days along with lengthy articles told of a merchant ship, "the Pomona" that was tied up in Honolulu waiting for crew to take it to the far east. The Captain had been murdered while at sea and the crew was afraid that the murderer was still aboard. The ship finally got underway again and my memory is that it had rudder problems and had to return to port. Then, after getting underway again it had a fire on board and had to return again.

While on liberty one day in Honolulu, I stopped in at a saloon on my way back to my ship. There, I met a merchant sailor who happened to be a sailor aboard the Pomona. He offered to take me back to the ship and let me come aboard her. We did and headed for the bow of the ship where there was a lot of noise. There sitting on the deck were a number of sailors, mostly drunken, talking about their predicament.

This occurred sometime between 1961 and 1965. I've searched over the years for some information about the Pomona which in one headline was named "The Jinx Ship" but had a difficult time finding any when one day, I did find an article on line from the Life Magazine from 1964. Here is the link if your interested. I think it would make a good book or even a movie. It's a little difficult to read on the website below so I'm transcribing it here:

The Mystery of the Ship of Fear
by Jim Hicks
Honolulu

The freighter Pomona, scabrous with rust, heavy-loaded with scrap iron, was a week off the California coast, westbound for Formosa, when her first mate, Alf Olsen, realized he had not seen the captain for a day and a half. this was not unusual. In 30 years at sea Capt. Jacob Natvig, 51, had developed a real attachment for whisky and he often stayed below. But Olsen decided to investigate. He rapped on the captain’s unlocked door and went into the sitting room. A chair was overturned and papers from the desk littered the floor. Olsen stepped uneasily to the adjoining bedroom and stopped in horror. The captain lay on his bunk, his head gashed below the right ear. Blood sheeted the walls and filmed the porthole so that a ghastly pink glow spread over the room. A big green fire axe which normally hung outside the door lay by the body.

Hands shaking, Olsen backed from the cabin, locked it and ordered the ship turned toward the nearest port. And she lies there now (above), tight-warped to a pier, filled with frightened men and the smell of death. She brought to land a story of violence. terror and appalling drunkenness at sea -- and the Honolulu waterfront dubbed her the “hell ship.”

The Pomona is a Liberty ship, built in the U.S. in 1943, now owned in Brazil, registered in Liberia and crewed in Norway. She sailed from Stavanger, Norway last October with a mixed crew of Norwegians, Finns, Spaniards and West Indians who hated each other almost from the beginning. Within a week a finnish sailor lost his mind and ran screaming through the hip until he was caught and subdued. He was put ashore at Bilbao, Spain.

But the trouble had started and the chief cause was the captain himself. Jacob Natvig was a convivial man. This cruise to last a year, would bring him to retirement. He like to have a glass or two over his nightly pinochle game and more over stories of his years at sea and ore for any reason at all. “The captain was a good guy,” a seaman said much later. “He was always drunk. We didn’t see him much when we were at sea.” Captain Natvig often drank with his chief steward, Anker Baardsen, though less for affection than for convenience. Baardsen was a tall and gloomy man given to fits of violent emotion. When not drinking with the captain, Baardsen was demolishing bottle after bottle with other officers. The abstainer among the officers, said the crew, was First Mate Olsen, 34, a round-faced man with curly hair and a worried look.

The crew was also drunk most of the time and fight among them were constant and savage. After Spain, the ship lurched through a half-dozen Caribbean ports. At Port-of Spain, an alcohol-crazed sailor jumped overboard and was recovered. Later he jumped ship at Guadalupe. The crew pilfered from the argo and when the captain accused a sailor of theft, the man called him a liar and went unpunished. Two stowaways boarded at Caribbean ports and rode untroubled to Baltimore Chief Steward Baardsen was seeing airy schools of flying fish that no one else could see.

From Baltimore the Pomona rounded through the Panama Canal and bore north for California. Another crewman tried suicide and was taken ashore. The ship was filthy. Cleaning was the chief steward’s duty and he was rarely sober enough to remember it. Litter coated the decks. Paint hipped and everywhere rust grew in ugly flecks. The heads -- shipboard bathrooms -- reeked. Nor was this the only neglect. Merchant ships normally conduct regular fire and lifeboat drills. But despite angry demands from the crew, again Natvig never held a single drill.

At San Pedro, Calif. the Pomona loaded scrap iron for Japan. She crossed the Pacific, lost another sailor to insanity and returned to California. On the bridge one night, the helmsman, Miguel Marriaga, and third mate, Reidar Klovnig, quarreled, Marriaga, who carried a long, wickedly sharp knife, snarled, “Try anything with me and you’re going to get a nice scar on your face.” Captain Natvig refused to punish Marriaga, and now all discipline vanished.

The men dared anything. The engine-room crew simply quit working. Officers took over and maintained steam until the crewmen were persuaded to go back to work. At San Pedro, the Pomona loaded scrap and set out for Formosa.

 A few days out, on a Wednesday night, Baardsen was in the captain’s cabin. Both were drinking heavily. It was the last time that Captain Natvig was seen alive. On Friday, May 15, Olsen found his body.

After turning the ship toward Honolulu, 600 miles to the southwest, Olsen went to Baardsen’s cabin. “You were drinking with the master Wednesday night,” he said. “What time did you leave?” Baardsen pondered, “About a quarter past midnight,” he said.

“What condition was the captain in?

“He was well, but drunk, of course. Why?

“The Captain’s been murdered,” Olsen said. “No!” Baardsen cried. “You’re crazy!” Olsen thought he appeared genuinely surprised. He told Baardsen to remain in his cabin and went to Chief Engineer Svensen, with whom Baardsen had finished the night of drinking. Svensen recalled that Baardsen had joined him at about 3 a.m. -- much later than Baardsen remembered it -- and that they had drunk Scotch whisky until 7 a.m. when Svensen had collapsed. Olsen decided to lock Baardsen up, not as a suspect but just because he was the last man known to have seen Captain Natvig alive. The crew jumped to the conclusion that Baardsen had gone mad and the ship was going to Honolulu to put him ashore. With three men insane in seven months, that seemed a reasonable deduction. But Olsen knew, and the mates and the radio operator knew, that there was a murderer aboard. For three days to Honolulu, they walked warily through the passageways and did not sleep. At Honolulu, a bizarre legal situation developed. Since the crime had taken place at sea in the foreign vessel, it was outside U.S. jurisdiction, Honolulu police made a “courtesy investigation” but could do nothing. The ship was of Liberian registry, but a trial in West Africa seemed pointless. Finally Norway decided that since both the captain and Baardsen were Norwegian, it would send two detectives out from Oslo.

On the second day in port Baardsen broke his dinner plate, slit his left wrist with the sharp edge and wrapped himself in his blanket to die. He was taken to a hospital, crying, “I didn’t do it. Everyone’s against me.” Most of the seamen and Olsen himself do not believe that Baardsen killed the captain. Though there was a tiny blood spot on his shirt, it was too small to analyze and he said he had cut his neck. Even his attempted suicide was considered not indicative, for he often was deeply depressed. He is tall and the Pomona’s men do not believe he could have swung an axe while drunk without striking the ceiling on the upswing. The captain’s ceiling is unmarked. Baardsen, recovering in a hospital, has agreed to accompany the detectives to Oslo, but there is no sign that he will be charged. The U.S. Immigration Service allows the men to go ashore, but they must report daily to the ship. They want to go home, but the company is trying to hold them to their year-long contracts and compel them to sail together again.

The authorities seem to have no suspects for captain Natvig’s death. No fingerprints were on the axe and no clues were found in the cabin. Most of the men on the ship believe that the murderer is still aboard and they are deeply frightened. They have individual cabins, but they have paired up for protection and those who sleep aboard do so with knives in their fists. They have refused to stand night watches. Officers move about the ship with their backs pressed to the steel bulkheads. The men will not work and the filth piles up on decks. Curiosity draws people to the pier to stare up at the crewmen at the rail. The men stare back. At night no one domes. The Pomona rocks slowly, her rusty plates creaking as they rub against the pier’s bumpers. On an upper deck Third Mate Klovning paces steadily, taking quick little dat glandes over his shoulder. He is afraid, as every man aboard is afraid, that the man who murdered the captain will strike again.

http://books.google.com/books?id=XUEEAAAAMBAJ&pg=PA47&lpg=PA47&dq=mystery+on+ship+of+fear&source=bl&ots=Z3yxeU2mZt&sig=i5k6nFhOfEcwU86lEa0b7t0Irr0&hl=en&ei=0OKETMXDBYednwee0v3nAQ&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=1&ved=0CBUQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=mystery%20on%20ship%20of%20fear&f=false

Jackie Walorski Refuses to Care For The Most Vulnerable

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Why Vote To Repeal a Law That is so Popular?

Obamacare is helping so many people that I find it interesting that I have yet to speak with a single person who claims to be against it even though my Congressperson, Jackie Walorski, continues to vote to repeal the law.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Alliance for Retired Americans Friday Alert 9-13-13

Headlines:
U.S. Income Inequality Reaches Highest Level Since 1928
Affordable Care Act Will be a Boon for Early Retirees
Alliance Members Share Their Personal Medicare Stories
Far-Right House Republicans Continue to Threaten Government Shutdown
Colorado Alliance Holds its Tenth Constitutional Convention

U.S. Income Inequality Reaches Highest Level Since 1928
A new economic study reveals income inequality between the wealthiest Americans and the rest of the population continues to increase. According to an analysis of IRS figures dating to 1913 by economists at the University of California, Berkeley, the Paris School of Economics and Oxford University, the richest 1% earned 19.3% of all household income in 2012 and the richest 10% earned 48.2%. The incomes of the richest 1% also rose by 20 percent last year, while the remaining 99% experienced only a 1% increase.  Since the economic recovery began in 2009, over 95% of all income gains have gone to the top 1%, while ordinary Americans have seen their incomes stagnate. For more, see a CBS article http://tinyurl.com/ovsp3zn and the study http://tinyurl.com/o7zo3mm.

“With so much of the country’s wealth concentrated in the hands of a small number of wealthy individuals, it is harder than ever for ordinary Americans to save for retirement,” said Edward F. Coyle, Executive Director of the Alliance. “Yet House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan and his allies continue to insist that we need to further cut taxes for the rich, while slashing Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid benefits. They are flat-out wrong; it is time for the wealthiest Americans to contribute their fair share to ensure a secure retirement for all.”

Affordable Care Act Will be a Boon for Early Retirees
The Affordable Care Act’s insurance exchanges, set to open this October, are expected to make health insurance less costly and easier to obtain for early retirees. Currently, many Americans who retire before 65 and are no longer insured through their employers find it extremely difficult to obtain health insurance. Many insurers charge higher premiums, or even refuse coverage, based on age or pre-existing conditions that are common among older Americans. Under the Affordable Care Act, it will be illegal for insurers to charge higher premiums based on pre-existing conditions, and there will be a cap on how much premiums can rise based on age. Additionally, low-income individuals will receive subsidies to help purchase insurance. To learn more, read a New York Times article at http://tinyurl.com/owoee93.

“It is not always possible to delay retirement until 65, particularly for those Americans who work at physically demanding jobs,” said Barbara J. Easterling, President of the Alliance. “Unfortunately, many early retirees are forced to spend years uninsured, since they are not yet eligible for Medicare. The Affordable Care Act will greatly improve these people’s lives by making it possible for them to purchase reasonably priced health insurance.”

Alliance Members Share Their Personal Medicare Stories
Politicians in Washington are keeping Medicare cuts on the table in debt ceiling and budget deal negotiations. To combat these efforts to slash Medicare, the Alliance is sharing with members of Congress stories  from retirees who benefit from the program, but who still struggle to keep up with out-of-pocket costs. The stories illustrate that now is not the time to cut Medicare or shift costs onto beneficiaries. “My prescriptions take 1/5 of my income,” said Michael Madamas of West Springfield, Massachusetts. “Between my prescriptions and medical expenses, my life savings were wiped out in about five years. I now live check to check.” For more stories, visit http://tinyurl.com/pb95ptg.

Far-Right House Republicans Continue to Threaten Government Shutdown
This week, the Republican leadership of the House of Representatives delayed a planned vote on a bill to fund the government, after a group of far-right House Republicans rebelled against the plan. To force a Senate vote, the plan would have included a vote on a separate bill to defund the Affordable Care Act.  However, the Senate would have been able to vote down the defunding bill  and pass  the bill that fund the government.. The breakaway group of Republicans insists that they would rather force a government shutdown than vote for any legislation that would fund the government while leaving the ACA intact. The vote has been postponed until next week. If no funding bill is passed, the government will shut down on October 1st.  More from the New York Times at http://tinyurl.com/lluwbpc.

“In such a rapidly changing situation, we must keep a watchful eye for any threats not just to the Affordable Care Act but also to Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid,” said Ruben Burks, Secretary-Treasurer of the Alliance. “President Obama must maintain his resolve not to negotiate with this group of irresponsible extremists.”

AFL-CIO Delegates Elect Richard Trumka, Liz Shuler, and Tefere Gebre
On Tuesday, delegates to the 2013 Quadrennial AFL-CIO Convention in Los Angeles elected a trio of top officers to lead the labor movement. In his acceptance speech, re-elected President Richard Trumka, a Pennsylvania coal miner who rose to the presidency of the Mine Workers (UMWA) and then served as AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer until his election to the top post in 2009, called himself “an example that a man or woman can be carried far by those who came before.” AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Elizabeth Shuler was elected to a second term and Tefere Gebre, a 45-year-old Ethiopian political refugee who immigrated to the United States as a teenager, was elected executive vice president. Ms. Shuler’s union career began with the Electrical Workers (IBEW) in Portland, Ore., and she has served as AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer since 2009. Mr. Gebre was a former Director of Government Relations of the Laborers (LIUNA) Local 270, as well as a member of the Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) and IBEW. He also served as the Executive Director of the Orange County (Calif.) Labor Federation and as Executive Director of Frontlash, the first youth and college arm of the labor movement. More at http://tinyurl.com/nkm9qpr.

Colorado Alliance Holds its Tenth Constitutional Convention
Yesterday, sixty activists gathered in Denver amidst serious flooding for the Colorado Alliance’s 10th Constitutional Convention. The Colorado Alliance honored State Senators Lois Tochtrop and Mary Hodge for their 100% voting record on senior issues for 2013. Elected to office were:  Ed Augden of American Federation of Teachers (AFT) as President and Bob Knapp of the United Steelworkers (USW) was re-elected as Secretary. Mr. Coyle joined Congressmen Perlmutter and Polis, as well as Senator Udall in honoring and thanking Frank Lay for his service to Colorado seniors. Coyle said, “We thank Frank Lay for his years of service. The Colorado Alliance has become a force in one of the crucial swing states of presidential elections thanks to his leadership.”


For a printable version of this document, go to http://bit.ly/18ZMI7T.

Obamacare Questions Answered

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Barack Obama - The Peoples President


Because President Obama thinks through every situation before taking action, I think he's one of the smartest presidents our country has ever had. His deliberate and cautious way of dealing with the use of chemical weapons by Syria is simply amazing. We are very fortunate to have him as our president during this dangerous time in our history.

Sunday, September 08, 2013

SOAR Chapter 30-18 15th Annual Retirees Reunion


Northern Indiana Public Service Company retirees celebrated their 15th Annual Retirees Reunion today at the Fulton County Round Barn Museum in Rochester, Indiana.

These retirees of NIPSCO continue to help retirees maintain their Social Security, Medicare, pension and Medical Insurance Benefits by sticking together and fighting back.

Saturday, September 07, 2013

We Can't Afford To Be complacent

With so much going on in our lives, kids in school, harvesting our gardens, community service volunteering, reunions and the drum beats of war, we just can't afford to be complacent when it comes to saving Social Security and Medicare from those determined to undermine those programs. And we know who they are. Those who campaigned next to their elderly parents saying, "I'll never vote to cut Social Security or Medicare" and then vote to repeal the Affordable Care Act (a.k.a. Obamcare) which is helping so many workers and retirees.

We need to stay involved by attending rallies and demonstrations, writing our Congressional Representatives and letting them know how we think about these things.

Stand up and fight back, Brothers and Sisters. For our kids and grand kids more than anything.

Friday, September 06, 2013

Alliance for Retired Americans Friday Alert 9-6-13

Headlines:
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: http://bit.ly/1fESUGc.

“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 http://tinyurl.com/nmy9z9m.

“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 http://tinyurl.com/kmtxzfg and view the EPI report at http://tinyurl.com/mc9lzu8.

“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 http://tinyurl.com/mnpjnzm.

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 http://tinyurl.com/m3883za.

“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 http://bit.ly/15EHlQr.

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