Reid Plan Would Address Debt Ceiling without Affecting Medicare, Social Security

July 29, 2011

Without signed legislation to raise the national debt limit by August 2, the Treasury will not have enough funds to pay the nation’s bills. Administration officials have warned of potentially calamitous effects on the economy if that happens - a spike in interest rates, a plunge in stock markets and a tightening in the job market. Without a higher debt limit, “the choices would be agonizing,” according to AP. The Bipartisan Policy Center says that if the government kept paying for health care programs, Social Security, unemployment benefits and defense contracts and met interest payments on its debt in August, it would have no money left for anything else. Civil servants and troops would go unpaid. Veterans would lose benefits. IRS refund checks would go unmailed. The Justice Department would have to scale back its pursuit of criminals.

 

A House Republican bill providing an immediate debt limit increase of $900 billion, which is less than half of the total needed to meet President Obama's insistence that there be no replay of the current crisis in just a few short months, is stalled. While the White House and Democrats objected to the House bill, they readied an alternative that contained similarities. Drafted by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), it will reduce the deficit by $2.7 trillion, without affecting Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security and without changes to revenues. “Just since Monday, Alliance members have sent more than 10,000 e-mail messages to their U.S. Representatives and Senators, saying that cutting Social Security in the name of debt reduction is a bad idea,” said Barbara J. Easterling, President of the Alliance. “I am confident that many Members of Congress have taken our side’s point of view into account. Thank you to all of you who have taken action during this precarious time in our nation’s history.” To call Congress over the weekend and reiterate the message of “Don’t cut Social Security in the name of debt reduction,” dial 202-224-3121.

 

Alliance Medicare Birthday Events Bring Attention to the Program at the Right Time

Medicare’s 46th birthday is tomorrow, and the Alliance began commemorating the anniversary with more than 30 events across the country earlier this month. U.S. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) was joined by Alliance members Sam Burnett of Toledo, Ohio and Brenda Kelley-Nelum from Woodbridge, Virginia at one birthday event devoted to protecting Medicare on Wednesday, on Capitol Hill. Leader Pelosi spoke of the debt ceiling at the event. “Senator Reid, the Leader in the United States Senate of the Democrats, put forward the responsible plan to reduce the deficit that protects the middle class, and Medicare, Social Security and Medicaid beneficiaries,” she said. To see C-SPAN footage of the event, go to http://cs.pn/qFPgSY.

 

Earlier this month, in San Diego, more than 150 people participated in a town hall on Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid sponsored by the Alliance on July 19.  The standing-room-only crowd heard from advocates and experts on the programs. To read more, go to http://bit.ly/nbRvQg. In other events, the Rhode Island Alliance presented U.S. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse with its Social Security & Medicare Hero Award. Also, the New York State caravans to “Restore the American Promises” this month ended a two-day, eight-city tour at Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt’s Hyde Park home. The actors portraying the pair spoke of the New Deal and warned against the raw deal Washington lawmakers are pushing for Social security, Medicare and Medicaid.

 

This past Monday, the Arizona Alliance ate cake at a retirement home in Chandler, Arizona while learning what is happening with Medicare in Washington. In St. Pete, Florida on Wednesday, seniors commemorated the Medicare birthday by singing karaoke! In Hartford, Connecticut today, Alliance members are recognizing Rep. John Larson for his advocacy on behalf of seniors. The Connecticut Alliance also presented an award to Reps. Chris Murphy and Jim Himes. The Pennsylvania, Georgia, and Washington Alliance chapters will be holding Medicare events in Pittsburgh, Savannah, and Seattle tomorrow, on the actual anniversary date. For more details, go to http://bit.ly/ovUM7u. For a write-up of the Illinois Alliance’s Medicare event in Peoria last Friday, go to http://bit.ly/nlcjK3.  To read about the Iowa Alliance’s July 21 event in Waterloo, go to http://bit.ly/o1soPm. For an Albuquerque, New Mexico Alliance video, go to http://bit.ly/riAhhp. Additional events have already taken place in cities including Scottsdale, AZ; Bakersfield, Rancho Cordova, and Stockton, CA; Delray Beach, FL; Chicago, IL; Manchester and Nashua, NH; Las Cruces, NM; Las Vegas, NV, Cincinnati, OH; and San Antonio, League, and Grand Prairie, TX. “Thank you to all who are drawing attention to the importance of Medicare while it is under attack, during the debt negotiations,” said Ruben Burks, Secretary-Treasurer of the Alliance.

 

Rallies in Baltimore, DC and State Capitals across the Country 

In Baltimore, Maryland on Monday, Maryland-DC Alliance members joined other activists in gathering outside the Social Security Administration to send elected officials a loud and clear message: Don’t cut Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid. Activists rallied on the U.S. Capitol steps on Thursday to keep the pressure on Republicans and tell Democrats to stand strong against the GOP's call for cuts to the three vital programs. Thursday was also a day for rallies and pickets in Capitol buildings across the U.S. to protect Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.

 

Alliance’s September Legislative Conference is Fast Approaching

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: Grammy winning singer and social activist Judy Collins; U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT); DNC Chair and Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL); and Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius. Workshops include the latest Medicare information and Building Coalition Partners. To see more speakers, to register, or if you have any questions, please call Event Coordinator Joni Jones at 202-637-5377 or e-mail jjones@retiredamericans.org. On the web, visit http://bit.ly/pjVbXy or http://bit.ly/hQro1V.

 

Obituary: John Carr, Champion for Workers and Seniors

John Carr, one of the Alliance leaders in Maine for many years and a defender of senior rights, died on Monday, July 25.  John will be remembered by all his brothers and sisters in Maine for his lifetime commitment to the labor movement. “I know you join me in sending our best wishes and thoughts and prayers to John’s family,” said Edward F. Coyle, Executive Director of the Alliance. John was a retired member of IBEW as well as a champion for workers rights and economic justice.

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