President Obama Takes the Chained CPI out of his Fiscal 2015 Budget

February 21, 2014

In a great victory for the Alliance, White House staff has announced that President Obama’s Fiscal 2015 budget will not include a switch to the chained CPI formula that would limit cost-of-living increases in Social Security and other programs. Alliance members who had worked diligently for months in the hope that the change would not be implemented - and that earned benefits would not be cut – celebrated the news jubilantly. Especially relieved and excited were the thousands of Alliance members who had joined hands at dozens of “Human Chain” events held nationally last July (http://tinyurl.com/kocng72).

“We are thrilled with reports that President Obama heard Alliance members from across the country and removed the chained CPI cut to Social Security and other programs from his 2015 budget,” said Richard Fiesta, Executive Director of the Alliance.

Mr. Fiesta continued, “Now that the pesky chained CPI is out of the way, we can focus on the real task at hand, articulated well by members of Congress like Senators Tom Harkin (D-IA), Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), as well as Rep. Linda Sanchez (D-CA), which is to expand Social Security so that it fits the retirement security needs of today.”

Mr. Fiesta added, “The Alliance for Retired Americans made eliminating the chained CPI our top priority of the past year. We held dozens of ‘Human Chain’ events with thousands of Alliance members all across the country, and are elated that they paid off.” To see the complete Alliance press release, go to http://tinyurl.com/kzpcclw

Deficit hawks said Obama's move to shelve chained CPI likely kills any chance of a grand bargain for the rest of his term. In an effort to save $230 billion over 10 years, the President had proposed adopting a new way of calculating benefit increases that assumes consumers don’t always pay higher prices for products but rather substitute with cheaper alternatives. The net result is a lower inflation rate than measured by the conventional consumer price index. For additional coverage, including a Miami Herald article mentioning the Alliance, go to http://tinyurl.com/m2medu5.
 
Just prior to the President’s announcement, 117 Members of the U.S. House, led by Rep. Allyson Schwartz (D-PA), had signed a letter (http://tinyurl.com/mmhbowc) urging him not to include the chained CPI in his 2015 budget, and 16 Senators had signed a letter, spearheaded by Sen. Sanders, urging him not to cut Social Security, Medicare, or Medicaid (http://tinyurl.com/l4xjdlu).

Volkswagen Workers in Tennessee Narrowly Vote not to Unionize

Workers at the Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee narrowly rejected joining the UAW last week by a 712-626 vote. The efforts to organize were met with strong anti-labor threats from Republicans like State Senator Bo Watson, who said that if workers opt for UAW representation, Volkswagen would have a “very tough time” securing future tax incentives from the state.  Outside organizations like the Grover Norquist-led Americans for Tax Reform also swarmed on Chattanooga to influence the vote.

The defeat came as a major disappointment to labor, as there had initially appeared to be an outpouring of enthusiasm, and Volkswagen had officially stayed neutral on the vote. Despite the loss this week, workers may again vote to unionize in a year’s time.  

“The loss in Chattanooga will not halt the efforts of unions and those who support the rights of workers,” said Barbara J. Easterling, President of the Alliance. “The UAW will continue to explore opportunities in the South.” More at http://tinyurl.com/mknpes8.

 

“Doc Fix” is in the Works, but it may not be a Reason to Celebrate

The nation’s most powerful lobbies for physicians are heaping praise on legislation heading to the floors of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives, perhaps within the next month, to address an upcoming cut in Medicare payments to doctors.  The deal, which both the American Medical Association and the American Academy of Family Physicians have called a “bicameral, bipartisan” agreement to repeal the Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR), would bring an end to stopgap corrections to dramatic cuts in doctor payments from Medicare in what has been labeled the “doc fix.”

“If this legislation passes, it will make it easier for Medicare beneficiaries to see a doctor,” said Ruben Burks, Secretary-Treasurer of the Alliance. “However, we can’t celebrate without knowing if it will shift more costs onto seniors.”

 

Listen to the Alliance Point of View on Labor Radio

You can hear Mr. Fiesta discuss current events every Friday at 2:00 PM Eastern Time on The Union Edge radio show (www.TheUnionEdge.com). Charles Showalter hosts. Download a free app for your smart phone or dial 712-432-5866 from any phone, anywhere in the world at any time to listen to the most recent program. You can also hear Mr. Fiesta the second Wednesday of every month on America’s Work Force radio at http://awfradio.com, with host Ed “Flash” Ferenc.


Come to the Alliance’s Convention, April 28 – May 1, 2014, at Bally's Hotel Las Vegas

Join us in Las Vegas as we sharpen our organizing and communications skills for the 2014 elections and beyond! Confirmed speakers now include: Carolyn W. Colvin, Acting Commissioner of Social Security; Liz Shuler, Alliance Executive Vice President and Secretary-Treasurer of the AFL-CIO; Linda Chavez-Thompson, former Executive Vice-President of the AFL-CIO; J. David Cox, President of the American Federation of Government Employees; and Jimmy Gilbert, Director of the AFL-CIO’s Union Veterans Council.

Alliance members will elect a president and secretary-treasurer, and community members will elect six community-based board members and the executive vice-president for community affairs. Alliance members whose dues are paid and are in good standing as of February 27, 2014 are eligible to be a voting delegate. Hotel reservations must be made by March 21, 2014. Questions? Contact Joni Jones at jjones@retiredamericans.org or 202-637-5377. Ready to register? Download a registration form at http://tinyurl.com/nqnz97a or register on-line at http://tinyurl.com/prl8box.

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