Super Committee Negotiations Go Down to the Wire

November 18, 2011

Just five days before the deadline for a deficit reduction deal, the Super Committee dealing with the nation’s budget deficit in Congress still did not seem close to reaching an agreement on tax reforms and spending cuts. According to CNN, 72 conservative House Republicans made public their opposition to any Super Committee agreement that includes tax increases. Such a large voting bloc in the Republican majority means Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) would need support from Democrats to get a deal that contains tax increases to pass the House. Democrats said they would not accept Republican demands to raise the Medicare eligibility age to 67, lower cost-of-living increases for Social Security beneficiaries, and permanently reduce all income tax rates. The special joint congressional committee has until November 23 to come up with a plan. A majority of the panel's 12 members, evenly split between Democrats and Republicans in the House and Senate, need to agree on savings of at least $1.2 trillion over the next 10 years. If they reach a deal, then Congress will have until December 23 to vote on it without amending it. A failure to pass any agreement would result in $1.2 trillion in automatic across-the-board spending cuts starting in 2013, evenly divided between defense and non-defense spending.

 

On Monday, Congressman Ted Deutch (D-FL) sent a letter to the Chairman (Rep. Sam Johnson, R-TX) and Ranking Member (Rep. Xavier Becerra, D-CA) of the Social Security Subcommittee of the House Committee on Ways and Means. He requested a hearing to examine the social impact of adopting the chained consumer price index (C-CPI) to calculate Social Security cost of living adjustments (COLA). While the proposal is rumored to be under consideration by the Super Committee, the chained CPI has undergone little scrutiny in Congress.

 

On Thursday on Capitol Hill, Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Ben Cardin (D-MD), and other elected officials spoke at a rally to tell Congress to support jobs - not Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security cuts. Alliance members Brenda Kelley Nelum of Woodbridge, Virginia and Kenyon Pease of Fairfax, Virginia also spoke at the event, which gathered a great deal of media coverage. Alliance members have one last chance before the November 23 Super Committee deadline to tell Senators to “stand with the 99%, not the 1%,” and oppose all cuts to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid - including the Social Security COLA cut. The phone number is 1-866-251-4044. For suggested talking points, go to http://strengthensocialsecurity.org/callcongress. Learn more about the “Super Committee” and threats to Social Security and Medicare by going to: http://www.retiredamericans.org/issues/Super_Committee.

 

Brown-Mikulski-Merkley Bill Would Help Seniors by Changing Social Security COLA

On Wednesday, Sens. Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), and Jeff Merkley (D-OR) introduced S. 1876, the Consumer Price Index for Elderly Consumers Act. It is a bill to change the Social Security COLA to what is called the Consumer Price Index for the Elderly (CPI-E) formula. “Retirees spend more of their financial resources on health care and housing than the general population. Because health care inflation rates, in particular, have been much higher than general inflation during the past twenty years, the current formula used to calculate the Social Security annual COLA does not accurately reflect the everyday costs that seniors face.  This legislation would be a financial help to seniors by addressing the existing disparity in calculating the COLA formula,” said David Friesner, President of the Ohio Alliance and a constituent of Sen. Brown. The bill comes at a crucial time, given news stories about the Super Committee’s possible plans to adjust the COLA downward, and is a counterweight to those frightening reports.

 

Regional Meetings Begin in February

Be sure to hold the following dates for the Alliance’s 2012 Regional Meetings:

  • Western Regional: February 29 – March 2, 2012
    Las Vegas, Nevada - Bally’s Hotel
  • Midwest Regional: March 5-8, 2012
    Milwaukee, Wisconsin – Hilton Hotel Milwaukee
  • Southern Regional: April 29 – May 1, 2012
    Orlando, Florida – Buena Vista Palace Hotel
  • Northeastern Regional: May 14-16, 2012
    Philadelphia, Pennsylvania – Sheraton City Center Hotel

Additional information will be coming soon. Questions? Please call Event Coordinator Joni Jones at 202-637-5377 or e-mail jjones@retiredamericans.org.

 

Alliance Activists Take to the Streets, Community

As the Super Committee nears its deadline, Alliance activists this week made their voices heard all across the country.  At events ranging from protests and rallies in California, Arizona and Texas to Social Security and Medicare forums in Iowa, Florida, and New York, to a state convention in West Virginia, Alliance members educated their local community on issues facing current and future retirees.  Watch the Arizona Alliance on the TV news in Phoenix at http://bit.ly/syghWL. “From city sidewalks to senior centers in small towns, Alliance members are out there every single week, fighting for social and economic justice,” said Ruben Burks, the Alliance’s Secretary-Treasurer.

 

AFSCME President and Alliance Supporter Gerald McEntee to Retire

Gerald McEntee, who has guided the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees as its President since 1981, announced in a recent letter that he would not seek another four-year term at the union’s convention next summer. In response, Barbara J. Easterling, President of the Alliance, congratulated Mr. McEntee and said, “Workers and retirees everywhere owe you a debt of gratitude for all that you have done. Through your strong support for both AFSCME retirees and the Alliance for Retired Americans, you have helped grow the political strength of retirees within the labor movement.  Your generous support for the Alliance has built lasting bridges between union and community-based retirees.”

 

Editor’s Note: Due to the Thanksgiving holiday, the next Friday Alert will be published on December 2, 2011. The Alliance will send e-mail updates on the Super Committee as needed.

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