On Wednesday, President Obama gave a speech outlining his plan for reducing the national deficit by $4 trillion before 2023. The President’s framework rejects plans that would “end Medicare as we know it” or transform Medicaid into a dramatically underfunded block grant.
"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 Tuesday, House Budget Committee Chair Paul Ryan (R-WI) released a proposal to cut more than $4 trillion in federal spending over the next decade through drastic changes to Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security. Ryan’s plan privatizes Medicare, turning it over to health insurance companies. Seniors who currently rely on the federal government for Medicare benefits would be given coupons for a fixed dollar amount, and then forced to fend for themselves in the private health insurance market.
Discussing the future of Social Security, U.S. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) told an NPR radio interviewer earlier this week, “We're going to have to come to grips with the fact that these programs cannot exist if we want America to be what we want America to be.”
Responding to Cantor’s comments on a telephone press conference call, Alliance Executive Director Edward F. Coyle said, “Eric Cantor and others are saying that Social Security is to blame for our budget deficit. That’s pure fiction, and a sleight of hand that makes no mention of tax cuts for the wealthy or big corporations like GE that pay no taxes. It’s time to stop the lies. It’s time to start telling current and future retirees the truth. Thank you, Eric Cantor. Thank you for making it crystal clear just what the Republican Party thinks of Social Security and the millions of Americans who count on it each month to make ends meet.”
Wednesday, March 23 was the one-year anniversary of President Obama’s signing of the Affordable Care Act – the nation’s historic health care reform law - and Alliance activists held events around the country this week to mark the occasion. Members also wrote their elected officials in support of the many new benefits that help retirees better afford to see a doctor and fill a prescription, sending over 10,600 messages this week to Congress and governors opposing any efforts to block or weaken key provisions of the law.
Governor Scott Walker (R) has signed into law the highly controversial bill to eliminate collective bargaining rights for public workers in Wisconsin. The signing comes after weeks of protests at the Wisconsin state capitol. Officials from Dane County have filed for an emergency injunction to prevent the law from taking effect, and Democrats have vowed to fight the law on the grounds that the vote took place unlawfully and violated the state’s constitution.
The Wisconsin state Assembly approved a bill ending collective bargaining rights for most of the state's public employees on Thursday, as state legislators passed Republican Gov. Scott Walker's explosive proposal, 53-42. Thousands of furious protesters had already streamed to the Capitol when Senate Republicans passed the measure on Wednesday. Democratic senators had gone to Illinois to deny the chamber the 20-member quorum required to take up bills that appropriate funds.
Wisconsin’s budget stalemate over union bargaining rights shows no sign of resolution, and it could be a long wait, according to the Associated Press. Governor Scott Walker (R) isn’t budging; Democrats in the state Senate who are gone are not planning to come back; and, despite talk of deadlines and threats of layoffs, the state doesn't have to pass a budget to pay its bills until at least May. Even then, there may be other options that could extend the standoff. The bill passed the Republican-controlled Wisconsin Assembly last week after nearly three days of debate. Republicans in the Senate say they have enough votes to pass it once Democrats return.
Alliance members across the country took part in events that showed support for their fellow union members this week, as Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker (R) remained determined to end most of the collective bargaining rights held by public workers for decades. Across the industrial Midwest, Republicans are trying to roll back the powers of not just public-employee unions, but also the bargaining and dues-collecting power of groups that represent auto workers and carpenters. On Saturday, February 26, at noon local time, the group MoveOn.org is teaming with labor and their supporters to organize rallies in front of every statehouse in every major city to stand in solidarity with the people of Wisconsin. To find an event near you, go to http://bit.ly/fApB1K. “State workers in Wisconsin are not alone in this fight,” said Barbara J. Easterling, President of the Alliance. “Retirees from coast to coast are with them every step of the way!”
On Monday, President Obama released his much-anticipated budget proposal for the 2012 fiscal year. While Republican leaders are calling for lower Social Security payments for seniors and an increase in the retirement age, the President upheld his commitment to retirees by leaving out cuts to Social Security. There are no proposed changes in the budget that would raise the retirement age; cut benefits or the Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA); or raise the earnings cap subject to Social Security payroll taxes. The President’s budget proposes a one time $250 payment to Social Security beneficiaries and other retirees in lieu of the COLA, like last year's budget submission, but this provision was not enacted last time.
House Republicans are expected to bring their federal budget for the upcoming fiscal year up for a vote next week, and they have promised that it will contain $100 billion in cuts. While they have not fully disclosed which programs are on the chopping block, they have promised that they will add an amendment to the bill that will block Congressional funding for implementation of the health care law that the President signed last year. At a press conference on Tuesday, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) told reporters that “one way or the other” the House would produce a bill that blocks funding for the law. The amendment is expected to be added during the budget debate by Rep. Dennis Rehberg (R-MT), the chairman of the House Appropriations panel that funds the Department of Health and Human Services. “We are truly disappointed that Republicans have continued to try and impede health care reform, especially since they have yet to offer a viable alternative,” said Barbara J. Easterling, President of the Alliance.