Cantor Obstructionism Imperils Finding a Debt Ceiling Solution

July 15, 2011

With little more than two weeks to go before a possible government default, congressional leaders are sounding out their members this weekend over a deal to raise the $14.3 trillion debt ceiling while cutting the overall debt by some $2 trillion over ten years -- or look for an unorthodox legislative approach. A Democratic source familiar with the negotiations said that as President Obama was concluding an Oval Office meeting with Hill leaders on Wednesday, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) interrupted him and for the third time raised doing only a short-term deal. Obama quickly “shut him down” and left the meeting. “House Majority Leader Eric Cantor has shown he shouldn't be at the table, and Republicans agree he shouldn't be at the table,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) said on the Senate floor. Reid also called Cantor “childish.”

“Majority Leader Cantor has found a way to object to every possible solution provided to solve the debt problem,” said Edward F. Coyle, Executive Director of the Alliance. “Taking revenue off the table is an impediment that has made this situation last much longer than it should. Obstructionism is not the way to get this country through this predicament.”

Alliance Activism Surrounding the Budget Talks

Alliance members have sent almost 1,100 e-mails to the White House since last Friday, urging the President not to cut Social Security in order to address the national debt. Activists followed up those e-mails with phone calls to Capitol Hill on Thursday and Friday this week, demanding that Congress not cut Social Security or its Cost-of-Living Adjustment – or allow a Social Security payroll tax holiday. Three new Social Security fact sheets explaining what’s at stake are available on the Alliance web site at http://www.retiredamericans.org/issues/social-security.  Those three concern the proposed Balanced Budget Amendment, the Chained CPI formula for cutting Social Security, and the Payroll Tax Holiday. On Tuesday, the Alliance joined 27 other senior organizations in signing on to a letter to Members of Congress detailing how proposed cuts to Social Security, Medicare, and traditional pensions would harm the retirement security of millions of retirees: http://bit.ly/ogBiOA. “Though we are continuing to monitor the situation closely, we need all our members to act swiftly and call their elected officials to speak out against cuts to Social Security,” said Ruben Burks, Secretary-Treasurer Director of the Alliance.

 

Leaked Memo Reveals How Medicare, Medicaid Could be affected by Deficit Talks

According to Kaiser News, Washington is abuzz about a spreadsheet that was leaked on Tuesday morning outlining potential Medicare and Medicaid savings that could end up in a deal to raise the federal debt ceiling. The summary is an outline of areas that House and Senate negotiators discussed during debt ceiling negotiations with Vice President Joe Biden, Cantor told reporters on Tuesday. The summary includes possible increases in beneficiary cost sharing, or lower payments to nursing homes, home health and clinical laboratory services, as well as changes to supplemental Medicare insurance coverage known as Medigap. The list, which totals between $334 billion and $353 billion in savings over the next decade, also includes a potential $100 billion in Medicaid cuts – possibly from a blended rate of Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Payments to states. Download the file at http://bit.ly/nDlsw5. “These cuts would hurt all seniors, but they would hit women and those with multiple conditions particularly hard,” said Barbara J. Easterling, President of the Alliance. The Alliance worked together with AFSCME this week on tele-conference calls with reporters in Virginia and Missouri, drawing attention to the harm that would result from cuts to Medicaid funding in those two states.

 

Wisconsin Recalls: 6 for 6 in Democratic Primaries

This Tuesday, Wisconsin saw the defeat of 6 “fake” Democrats in the Democratic primary races for the state’s recall elections. In an effort to delay the recall elections 30 days, Wisconsin Republicans placed “fake” Republicans in these primaries. Now, the 6 original, “real” Democratic candidates will run in recall elections against State Senate Republicans who approved the Governor’s sweeping budget proposal for 2011-2013, including the controversial provision to strip most collective bargaining rights from public employees. In the past several months, the Wisconsin Alliance has been busy recruiting hundreds of retirees to participate in demonstrations; taking part in media events and recruiting speakers; calling thousands of union retiree households for a Supreme Court race; holding 14 town hall meetings on the impact of the Governor’s budget; and making dozens of presentations to WIARA affiliates on the impact of the state budget. WIARA is also recruiting members to participate in member to member walks, making thousands of calls, and mailing to retiree households around the recalls.

 

Medicare, Medicaid Anniversary Events Begin on Monday

July 30 marks the 46th anniversary of the Medicare and Medicaid programs. Nineteen Alliance events are currently scheduled throughout the country, beginning on July 18, to mark the birthday as well as educate the public on the importance of these programs. To find an event near you, go to http://bit.ly/rrH0jo.

 

Kathleen Sebelius, Mary Kay Henry, Hilary Shelton to Speak at Alliance Convention

Help us mark our 10-year Anniversary at our upcoming Legislative Conference, Celebrating Our Past, Fighting for Your Future, on September 6 - 9, 2011 in Washington, D.C.! Information and registration forms were mailed in May. You may also register online at http://bit.ly/hQro1V. Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; Mary Kay Henry, President of the Service Employees International Union; and Hilary Shelton, Director to the NAACP’s Washington Bureau and Senior Vice President for Advocacy and Policy, have been added to the program as speakers. Any questions, please contact Event Coordinator Joni Jones at 202-637-5377 or jjones@retiredamericans.org, or else visit http://bit.ly/pjVbXy.

 

Current and Former Alliance Presidents Travel to Nevada, Iowa

President Easterling traveled to Las Vegas, Nevada to address the Communications Workers of America (CWA) Retired Members’ Council meeting on Saturday. Former Alliance President George Kourpias spoke at the Iowa Alliance convention on Wednesday in Des Moines. Don Rowen was re-elected as President of the Iowa Alliance at the event.

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