"Raising the retirement age would inflict further hardship among a group of workers who are likely to face health and economic problems in their 60s." –Doug Hart, President, Arizona Alliance for Retired Americans
"Of all the lies and confusion that still surround the Affordable Care Act, perhaps the greatest is that it is bad for seniors." - Dave Meinell, President, Missouri Alliance for Retired Americans
"My father died when I was three. Because of Social Security (survivors) benefits, my Mom, my younger sister and I survived." – Diane Fleming, DC Alliance Member
"We fear that Congress will balance the budget on the backs of the 98 percent, which is working Montanans and retired Montanans. We simply cannot afford these devastating cuts to vital services such as Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid," –John Forkan, President, Montana Alliance for Retired Americans
"Along with national parks and Social Security, Medicare is one of the best ideas we Americans have ever devised." -Tim Cunningham, New Mexico Alliance Member
"Seniors have earned and deserve their Social Security checks, and they shouldn't have to go to Congress every 10 years and beg for the program to be renewed." –James Parent, Alliance for Retired Americans Regional Board Member
"Today's retirees paid Medicare and Social Security taxes in every paycheck we ever earned. Now that we are retired, these programs help us to be able to stay healthy and pay our bills. They are the promise we make to people who worked hard all their lives, and we need to keep that promise for today’s workers." –Tony Fransetta, President, Florida Alliance for Retired Americans
"Today's seniors want to lower the budget deficit. We do not want a large debt to be the legacy we leave to future generations, but we should not punish people who have paid Social Security taxes all their lives." –Jim Moore, President, North Carolina Alliance for Retired Americans
"Social Security should remain what it has been for 77 years – a solid, reliable way that generations of workers have been able to retire with dignity, economic security, and peace of mind." –Barbara J. Easterling, President, Alliance for Retired Americans
"The fight for Social Security and Medicare is part of a larger fight for justice and fairness"—Barbara J. Easterling, President, Alliance for Retired Americans
"The health insurance reform helps not just seniors, but also middle-class families and young Americans, who are just starting to see the benefits. Don’t let Republicans take all that away." –Don Rowen, President Emeritus, Iowa Alliance for Retired Americans
"Honoring the promise of Social Security and Medicare should not be a partisan issue. Honoring the contributions that we make throughout our working years so that we may feed and clothe ourselves, keep a roof over our heads and those of our family, there is no reason for that to be a hotly contested partisan issue." –Edward Coyle, former Executive Director, Alliance for Retired Americans
"We need to make sure that people who need Social Security to make ends meet will have it, and not fall victim to ill-informed and unnecessary cuts to these vital programs."
–Barbara J. Easterling, President, Alliance for Retired Americans
Paul Ryan’s Republican Budget Passes the House, Despite Threats Posed to Seniors
March 22, 2013
The U.S. House of Representatives voted to pass Paul Ryan’s Republican Budget for fiscal year 2014 on Thursday, 221-207. It was a mostly party-line vote, with only 10 Republicans voting against it, and no Democrats voting for it. For a full tally, go to http://tinyurl.com/atg588r. Ryan’s plan would fast-track cuts to Social Security, gut Medicaid and dismantle the Medicare program – all while giving $5.7 trillion in new tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations. To see the Alliance’s letter to House members listing the ways in which the budget would hurt seniors, go to http://tinyurl.com/buazaea. If you have not done so already, please sign the petition expressing your disapproval of the Paul Ryan budget here: http://bit.ly/YdAmr6.
Diane Fleming, a retired member of the International Association of Machinists who, along with her 92-year-old mother, is a Medicare beneficiary, spoke at a Capitol Hill press conference on Wednesday that drew attention to the many problems with the Republican budget. Because Ryan’s plan also calls for the repeal of health care reform, Ms. Fleming highlighted the imminent three-year anniversary (tomorrow, March 23) of the Affordable Care Act. Members of Congress at the event included Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (CA), Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer (MD), Assistant Democratic Leader James Clyburn (SC), Democratic Caucus Chair Xavier Becerra (CA), Caucus Vice Chair Joseph Crowley (NY), and Rep. John Dingell (MI).
In separate action, the House and Senate reached agreement on Thursday to fund the federal government through September, avoiding a government shutdown. However, the bill leaves in place the machinery of sequestration cuts that took effect on March 1, and the bill does not add funding that many Democrats wanted to implement health care and Wall Street reforms.
Wednesday, March 20: A Day of Action Against the Sequester
Wednesday was a national Day of Action to protest the effects of sequestration – including a growing backlog for new claims, headed toward 1,000,000 - for the Social Security Administration. Alliance members were out in full force, and the evidence was found at State Capitols, in print and on television screens. The day was “Senior Day” at the Capitol in Denver for Colorado State Alliance President Frank Lay, state chapter members and their allies. Joining the Colorado Alliance were the Central Presbyterian Church, the Colorado Commission on Aging, and others. See video from the Pennsylvania Alliance’s presence in Lebanon, PA at http://tinyurl.com/blfz7dz.
In addition, Arizona Alliance President Doug Hart was interviewed by the Phoenix ABC affiliate on Wednesday. The New Mexico Alliance joined up with AFSCME, AFGE, the Sierra Club, and other coalition partners to protest both sequestration and the Ryan budget in Albuquerque. In Omaha, Fox's Channel 42 and ABC's Channel 7 covered the Nebraska Alliance's protest. In Dallas, Texas Alliance President Gene Lantz was interviewed by the local CBS affiliate. Go to http://youtu.be/46RohY1nVf0 to see video from Dallas; go to http://tinyurl.com/cqxoeah for more.
“So many of our states were active on Wednesday – this list is not meant to be exhaustive,” said Barbara J. Easterling, President of the Alliance. “I want to thank everyone who joined together to make such a strong statement about sequestration, the Paul Ryan budget, and the impact that combination will have on seniors.”
Alliance Supports Nomination of Thomas E. Perez for Labor Secretary
President Barack Obama announced on Monday that he is nominating Thomas E. Perez to be his next Secretary of the Department of Labor. Mr. Perez, currently the head of the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice, is a longtime champion of labor causes. During his time as head of the Maryland Department of Labor, he championed legislation that stopped bosses from cheating their workers out of full pay and benefits by classifying them as “independent contractors.” The bill was signed into law in 2009, earning Perez high praise from union leaders. Perez has also been an advocate for many other causes, including protecting the rights of domestic workers and fighting back against restrictive voter ID laws. For more, go to Mother Jones’s take on the nomination at http://tinyurl.com/atlej28.
“Thomas Perez’s record clearly shows that he will promote policies that help workers achieve stable retirements,” said Ruben Burks, Secretary-Treasurer of the Alliance. “We are also encouraged by his strong opposition to voter ID laws, which discriminate against seniors.”
Wisconsin Alliance Holds Its State Convention, Elects a New President
The Wisconsin Alliance held its State Convention in Madison on Monday, drawing more than 130 delegates. Those in attendance also held a press conference protesting sequestration, with two local television stations and several radio stations covering the event. Ms. Easterling and Rich Fiesta, Director of the Department of Government and Political Affairs for the Alliance, spoke at the convention. Outgoing State President Leon Burzynski was honored and given a framed resolution for his years of service. See the video from Wisconsin at http://tinyurl.com/cfsqces.
“Thank you, Leon, for your devotion to the Wisconsin Alliance, and to seniors everywhere,” said Edward F. Coyle, Executive Director of the Alliance. “Your colleagues have all enjoyed working with you immensely, and it is because of you that the state chapter is so strong.”
Mike Pyne, a Steelworkers retiree, was elected to serve as the new President. “I am pleased to be the state President at a time when this state’s retirees have so much on the line. I will work tirelessly to make sure that Wisconsin’s workers, both in the public and private sector, do not have their rights and benefits further threatened,” said Mr. Pyne.
Florida, Iowa Alliance State Presidents Make the Local TV News – Watch the Video
After organizing three press events in the last week, Florida Alliance President Tony Fransetta was interviewed by West Palm Beach’s local NBC affiliate last Friday regarding the affordable housing crisis for seniors in the state. Check out the story here: http://tinyurl.com/d89ess3. Iowa President Janice Laue’s interview concerning the Iowa Governor’s unsavory alternative to Medicaid expansion, which aired on Des Moines’ local ABC affiliate, is here: http://tinyurl.com/c93htan.
Editor’s Note: Due to Good Friday, the next Friday Alert will be published on Thursday, March 28.