Social Security’s 78th Birthday Receives Generous Attention

August 16, 2013

Social Security’s 78th Birthday Receives Generous Attention
Social Security’s birthday on Wednesday received considerable attention on the state and national level. The Alliance for Retired Americans marked the anniversary with over 40 events in 22 states and by releasing special state-by-state reports with ally Social Security Works.

The Florida Alliance for Retired Americans made news in Panama City on Wednesday when they brought a cake, signs and numerous speakers to demonstrate their strong opposition to any cuts to Social Security, especially in the form of the chained CPI, in front of Rep. Steve Southerland’s (R-FL) office. AFSCME Retirees, the National Organization for Women (NOW), NAACP, Social Security Works, and numerous other partners joined FLARA at this event. “Social Security helps me get by – I’m very grateful for it. It is both sad and disgusting to me that politicians in Washington are talking about cutting one of the best programs we ever created. We should expand benefits by scrapping the payroll tax cap,” said Barbara DeVane, Secretary, Florida Alliance for Retired Americans. Harriett Myers of the Bay County National Organization for Women (NOW) pointed out to the crowd, “Cuts to Social Security are especially harmful to women.  On average women live longer than men, rely more on income from Social Security, and are more likely to be poor.  Cuts to Social Security through the chained CPI or other measure would be a real disaster for women.”

The Montana Alliance for Retired Americans teamed up with the Montana Organizing Project for birthday celebrations in 7 different cities on Wednesday. Check out photos from events around the country on Facebook here or on the web.

The 2013 Social Security Works state reports include information that public officials, members of the press and advocates will find very useful for explaining the program’s history and vitality. They include real-life stories and statistics on the number of beneficiaries and types of benefits in each state, county and congressional district. Find your report here or look over the national here.

Ross Eisenbrey of the Economic Policy Institute said it well this week in his article “Social Security is the Only Reason Most Americans Can Afford to Retire” - as businesses do away with defined benefit pension plans, more and more Americans turn to to savings in 401(k)-type accounts and Social Security remains the great equalizer - the most reliable and equitable system of retirement savings. While 401(k)-type retirement accounts exacerbate economic inequality, Social Security does just the opposite. “The dialogue is finally shifting away from benefit cuts to increasing benefits as Tom Harkin and Mark Begich propose. This can and should be done by scrapping the cap on income subject to the Social Security tax,” said Edward F. Coyle, Executive Director of the Alliance for Retired Americans. You can support the measure here.

North Carolina Governor Signs Law that Threatens the Voting Rights of Seniors
This week, North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory signed legislation modifying the state’s requirements for voting. The new law requires all voters to have a government-issued photo ID. It also shortens the early voting period from 17 days to 10 and ends same-day registration. The law will take effect in 2016. As discussed in last week’s Friday Alert, the US Supreme Court recently issued a decision striking down a key part of the Voting Rights Act, clearing the way for the North Carolina legislation and similar bills around the country. To learn more about the new North Carolina law, read this Washington Post article.

“All around the country, the fundamental right to vote is under attack, and older Americans are seriously concerned. Shortening the early voting period makes voting difficult for seniors who are not able to easily get to a polling station,” said Ruben Burks, Secretary-Treasurer of the Alliance for Retired Americans. “This type of voter suppression is just wrong. It is time for Congress to pass new legislation strengthening the Voting Rights Act, reversing the Supreme Court’s misguided decision.”

AFL-CIO to Target Six Republican Governors in 2014
The AFL-CIO announced that it will focus special attention on defeating six Republican governors in the 2014 elections. The governors are: Rick Scott (FL), Rick Snyder (MI), Scott Walker (WI), Paul LePage (ME), John Kasich (OH), and Tom Corbett (PA.) All six of them have worked to implement a far right agenda, despite representing moderate states that were carried by Barack Obama in the 2012 presidential election. For more of the story, see Politico’s coverage.

“These six men have aggressively pursued policies that are not just anti-union, they are also anti-senior. They have slashed state budgets and cut essential programs, while simultaneously cutting taxes for their wealthy friends and benefactors. Seniors are a key demographic in midterm elections, and in 2014 we will push back against these harmful policies by removing the governors from office,” said Barbara J. Easterling, President of the Alliance for Retired Americans.

Billy Feitlinger, Executive Director of the Wisconsin Alliance for Retired Americans said, “Governor Scott Walker has made it crystal clear that he is far more interested in taking care of large corporations and wealthy Wisconsin citizens than making sure seniors have property tax relief or making prescription drugs more affordable for them. Our members are experiencing the ill effects of Walker’s reign and will be very engaged in the 2014 elections.”

Contact Your Members of Congress During Summer Recess
Congress is in recess until Sept. 6th, and many legislators are holding town halls and other events in their districts. Call your members of Congress to find out if they are going to be at any events in your area in the upcoming weeks. These events are great opportunities to remind your representatives how important Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid are to their constituents. Find contact information for your members of Congress.

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