Debt Ceiling Negotiations Continue to Cause Uncertainty

July 22, 2011

President Obama had once set Friday, July 22, as the day when an agreement had to be reached so that corresponding legislation to raise the debt ceiling could be drafted and passed by the House and Senate. However, that timeline has now been extended. With several deals still possible, uncertainty for seniors remains. A major threat to Social Security is the Chained Consumer Price Index (CPI), a formula change that would cut the Cost-of-Living Adjustment (COLA) for beneficiaries. The “Gang of 6” Senators, three Democrats and three Republicans, unveiled a plan to chop at least $3.7 trillion off the deficit this week; that plan includes the chained CPI in the immediate $500 billion cut, and then sets up a process that could result in more cuts, such as raising the retirement age. “The chained CPI assumes that seniors, to make ends meet, would substitute one good for a cheaper version. While that may work for certain goods, a senior cannot just substitute triple bypass surgery with a double because it’s cheaper,” said Edward Coyle, Executive Director of the Alliance. For a video description of what the Chained CPI would mean, from a House floor speech by Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR), go to http://bit.ly/oc1JR2. Judy Cato, Executive Vice President of the Alliance, and Edith Powell of the Maryland-DC Alliance appeared on Wednesday night on CNN's "The Situation Room” to give the Alliance’s view on Social Security. Go to http://bit.ly/oXVkPu to view it. The next day, Reps. Ted Deutch (FL), Lloyd Doggett (TX), and Mark Critz (PA) were joined by 58 of their Democratic colleagues in sending a letter to the President urging him to reject another payroll tax cut and instead consider alternative proposals that do not jeopardize Social Security’s “time-tested independent revenue stream.” To view the letter, go to http://bit.ly/pF8eHF.

 

President Easterling Promises Help on Ohio’s SB 5 and Works to Organize Virginia

On Thursday, Alliance President Barbara J. Easterling spoke via tele-conference call to tens of thousands at a town hall in Columbus, Ohio concerning the referendum to repeal the anti-collective bargaining Senate Bill 5. The event kicked off the campaign to defeat the statewide assault on civil rights at the polls in November. About 1.3 million signatures were turned in last month to put the referendum on the ballot. “Our Ohio chapter has over 270,000 members and nearly 100 groups, and we will do everything we can between now and November,” Ms. Easterling said to the Ohio crowd. Also this week, Ms. Easterling met to organize the Virginia Alliance in Annandale, VA.

 

Balanced Budget Amendment Passes House, but Unlikely to Pass the Senate 

On Tuesday, the House passed legislation conditioning a $2.4 trillion increase in the nation’s borrowing cap on a tea party-backed plan to require immediate spending cuts and a constitutional amendment requiring a balanced budget. The 234-190 vote sends the “cut, cap and balance” plan to the Democratic-controlled Senate, where it has virtually no chance of passing. For a tally of the House vote, go to http://clerk.house.gov/evs/2011/roll606.xml.  Earlier, the Alliance had sent a letter to all Members of the U.S House stressing that the bill would require devastating budget cuts that would disproportionately harm seniors and the middle class. “While scaling back government spending to 19.9% may sound good in practice, it would necessitate cuts of epic proportions to all government programs, including those affecting seniors,” said Ruben Burks, Secretary-Treasurer of the Alliance. To view that letter, go to http://bit.ly/qMUsTE.

 

Are you Eligible for Additional Income to Pay for Elder Care Services?

As a veteran or spouse of a veteran, you may be entitled to a little known pension benefit, referred to as “VA Aid & Attendance,” which can provide income up to $1,949 a month. Visit our friends at Aging with Grace to learn the details with a step-by-step guide to assist families in understanding and applying for this valuable benefit.  To learn more, go to http://bit.ly/q7PFzw

 

Senator Kohl’s Special Committee on Aging Holds Hearing to Reduce Drug Costs

On Thursday, the Special Committee on Aging, chaired by Sen. Herb Kohl (D-WI), held a hearing to discuss ways to drastically reduce drug costs covered by Medicare. Numerous proposals to deal with the issue were discussed.  One proposal stressed the need for stronger government negotiation rights with the drug companies. Another was to grant more prescription drug rebates, similar to those enjoyed by dually eligible (Medicare and Medicaid) beneficiaries.

 

Care Congress Convenes in DC

More than 700 care workers, care recipients, community activists and union members came together last week in Washington, D.C. for the first-ever Care Congress. The group celebrated the launch of the Caring Across Generations campaign, a national effort to reform the direct-care industry. Care workers look after some of the most vulnerable populations in our country: the young, people with disabilities and seniors. But they lack legal protection in the U.S., which can lead to a lack of proper training, few benefits, wages often below the poverty line and employer harassment.

 

Medicare Anniversary Celebrations Begin

The Florida Alliance held its annual health care forum on Thursday in Delray Beach.  Several state legislators and other VIP’s were in attendance to recognize the upcoming 46th Anniversary of Medicare and to honor and salute Florida’s heroes who support Medicare. California, Illinois, Iowa, New Mexico, Ohio, and Texas were also among the state Alliance chapters that have already held events celebrating the Anniversary of Medicare on July 30. To see next week’s planned events, go to “Senior Summer” on the Alliance web site or click http://bit.ly/rrH0jo.

 

Wide Range of Speakers Already in Place for September Legislative Conference

Be sure to join us at the Alliance’s 10th anniversary Legislative Conference, Celebrating Our Past, Fighting for Your Future, on September 6-9, 2011 in Washington, D.C.! Confirmed speakers include: Robert Adler, Commissioner of the Consumer Product Safety Commission; Judy Collins, Grammy winning singer and social activist; Mary Kay Henry, President of SEIU; Bernie Sanders (I-VT), U.S. Senator; Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL), member of the U.S. House of Representatives & Chair of the Democratic National Committee; Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; Hilary Shelton, Director of NAACP’s Washington Bureau and Senior Vice President for Advocacy and Policy; Richard Trumka, President of the AFL-CIO; Dennis Van Roekel, President of the NEA; and Randi Weingarten, President of AFT. Gerald McEntee, President of AFSCME, will receive the President’s Award from the Alliance. Questions? Call 202-637-5377 or visit http://bit.ly/hQro1V.

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