"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, 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
On Tax Day, Alliance Calls for End to Corporate Tax Loopholes
April 17, 2014
In honor of this week’s Tax Day, the Alliance asks members to contact Congress and demand the end of two huge tax loopholes that benefit giant corporations. Congress is expected to return from its break and take up a bill that would renew $80 billion in tax breaks for corporations that move profits and jobs offshore. If you have not already done so, please sign the petition to Congress here: http://bit.ly/1gyoMgp. While corporations were dodging taxes, their CEO’s were taking in outrageous salaries. Find out how much CEO’s are making compared to workers at the AFL-CIO’s Executive Paywatch site: http://bit.ly/1jL2ZG7.
“If we can get Congress to end these loopholes, we'll be taking a tremendous step, and showing elected officials that we're watching to see if they're supporting the biggest corporations – or the people they represent,” said Richard Fiesta, Executive Director of the Alliance.
Social Security to Stop Collecting Relatives’ Old Debts by Intercepting Tax Refunds
In the wake of revelations about its efforts to collect on old debts, Acting Social Security Administration Commissioner Carolyn Colvin announced that the agency will stop attempts to collect taxpayer debts dating back more than 10 years. The Washington Post revealed that thousands of taxpayers expecting refund checks had received letters informing them that the Treasury Department had intercepted their refunds in order to cover debts that many of them never knew existed. The debts, often incurred by parents, were the result of Social Security benefit over-payments, sometimes dating back decades. This debt collection effort was the result of a provision placed into the farm bill three years ago.
The decision to suspend collection came after hundreds of taxpayers, whose refund checks had been intercepted, contacted members of Congress complaining that they been given no notification of the debt and no explanation as to why they were responsible for the debts of their deceased parents.
For more details on the announcement go here: http://wapo.st/1mdGYk6.
“It doesn’t make sense for the Social Security Administration to confiscate taxpayers’ refunds to cover old debts created by their relatives,” said Barbara J. Easterling, President of the Alliance.
City of Detroit Reaches Preliminary Bankruptcy Deal Involving Pensions
On Tuesday, Detroit’s emergency manager Kevyn Orr announced that deals had been reached on pension cuts for 23,000 workers and retirees. The city of Detroit is currently attempting to emerge from the largest municipal bankruptcy in the nation’s history, and pension cuts have been proposed as a step towards addressing the city’s $10 billion in unfunded liabilities. The first agreement, with the Retired Detroit Police and Fire Fighters Association, would avoid cuts to current pension benefits altogether but involve a nearly 50% reduction in cost of living increases. The other agreement, with the General Retirement System, would involve a 4.5% reduction in benefits and the complete loss of cost-of-living adjustments. Though painful, the cuts are significantly less severe than Mr. Orr’s original plan, which would have seen cuts of up to 34% for most retirees and 14% for police and fire workers. The pension deals are in part the result of $816 million in funding provided by the state, private foundations, and the transfer of city-owned artwork to the Detroit Institute of Arts. Workers and retirees affected by the agreements will still have to approve the measures before they go into effect.
Corporate-Backed Debt Reduction Group Facing Money Troubles
Politico reports that The Fix the Debt Coalition, a group calling for debt reduction through cuts to Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, is itself exhibiting signs of increasing financial strain. The organization recently terminated a year long, $200,000 relationship with Mehlman Vogel and Castagnetti, a DC lobbying firm. This is the second firm the Fix the Debt Coalition has dropped in the last month and comes on the heels of revelations of financial trouble at the organization earlier this year.
“Clearly, people value their Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid benefits enormously,” said Ruben Burks, Secretary-Treasurer of the Alliance. “I believe the leaders of ‘Fix the Debt’ under-estimated the importance of those programs to millions of seniors when they set out to cut them.”
Commemorations Mark Centennial of Ludlow Massacre
Sunday will mark the 100th anniversary of the Ludlow Massacre, the most violent incident of the southern Colorado Coal Strike and an event seen as a turning point in the American labor movement. The Massacre occurred after striking miners organized by the United Mine Workers of America were evicted from company-owned housing and took up residence in tents just outside of Ludlow, Colorado. On April 20th, 1914, Colorado militiamen, company guards, and hired strike breakers began firing on the camp and setting the striking miners’ tents on fire. During the Massacre, at least 20 people were killed, including a group of women and children who suffocated when the tent in which they had taken shelter went up in flames. The horror is widely seen as bringing increased national attention to labor issues, including working conditions, safety, and worker representation. In commemoration of the Massacre’s centennial, events are being held throughout Colorado. To get involved, you can find a complete listing of these events at http://bit.ly/1r2q6gx. You can connect to the Ludlow Centennial Commemoration on Facebook and learn more about the fallen miners and their families at https://www.facebook.com/Ludlow100. Alliance member Dennis Creese recently covered the issue on KGNU at http://bit.ly/RsMF3K.
Fiesta Addresses Machinists
Mr. Fiesta was in Placid Harbor, Maryland on Wednesday to speak at the Machinists Union Political Training and Education Seminar.
Just Over a Week until Start of National Membership Conference in Las Vegas
It is not too late to register for the Alliance for Retired Americans 2014 National Membership Convention at Bally’s Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada, April 28 through May 1. Workshops are slated to include State Battles: Fighting Back Against ALEC (the American Legislative Exchange Council); Seniors/Retirees Re-entering the Workforce; Messaging for the 2014 Midterm Elections and Beyond; and several others! More info is at http://bit.ly/1hYpj0g.