President Obama had once set Friday, July 22, as the day when an agreement had to be reached so that corresponding legislation to raise the debt ceiling could be drafted and passed by the House and Senate. However, that timeline has now been extended. With several deals still possible, uncertainty for seniors remains.
"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
With little more than two weeks to go before a possible government default, congressional leaders are sounding out their members this weekend over a deal to raise the $14.3 trillion debt ceiling while cutting the overall debt by some $2 trillion over ten years -- or look for an unorthodox legislative approach.
President Obama is pressing congressional leaders “to consider a far-reaching debt-reduction plan that would force Democrats to accept major changes to Social Security and Medicare in exchange for Republican support for fresh tax revenue,” The Washington Post reported on Thursday.
According to The Washington Post, leading congressional Democrats “immediately recoiled” Tuesday from a new proposal to cut $600 billion in Medicare spending over the next decade — in part by raising the eligibility age. Sens. Joseph Lieberman (I-CT) and Tom Coburn (R-OK) unveiled the proposal as part of a bipartisan effort to produce the kind of savings necessary to achieve the $2 trillion in debt reduction both parties say is needed to convince lawmakers to vote to raise the debt ceiling.
According to Politico, the seniors lobby AARP is in “damage-control mode” following a news report last Friday in The Wall Street Journal that the group is open to cuts to Social Security benefits. A nationwide tour by AARP soliciting feedback from their members and seniors about what Social Security reforms the group should propose is now on hold until after the current round of deficit talks in Washington passes, according to David Certner, AARP’s Legislative Director.
A story ran in The Wall Street Journal today stating that AARP supports cutting Social Security benefits. “AARP does not speak for all seniors. And on this topic probably not for many of their own members,” said Edward F. Coyle, Executive Director of the Alliance. “There is no ambiguity on where the Alliance for Retired Americans stands on Social Security - never has been, never will be. We are against Social Security benefit cuts for seniors,” he continued.
A bad idea that just won’t go away, Social Security privatization is once again back in the public debate with the recent introduction of a bill in Congress to create private savings plans in lieu of Social Security. The legislation, H.R. 2109, was introduced by Rep. Pete Sessions (TX), who also serves as head of the House Republican campaign committee. The bill has been co-sponsored by Reps. Marsha Blackburn (TN), Dan Burton (IN), Randy Neugebauer (TX), Lamar Smith (TX), Lee Terry (NE) and Jeb Hensarling (TX), all Republicans.
On Tuesday, the Alliance released its 2010 Congressional Voting Record, detailing the votes of every U.S. Senator and Representative on key issues affecting current and future retirees. The document is available at http://bit.ly/kpet7N. “At a time when Congress has been debating the future of Social Security and Medicare, it is more important than ever that people of all ages know the issues and how their elected officials voted,” said Alliance President Barbara J. Easterling. The voting record examines ten key Senate votes and ten key House votes from 2010, giving the roll calls on issues such as strengthening Medicare, help for Social Security recipients, and protecting older Americans from consumer and lending fraud. According to the Voting Record, 183 U.S. House Members achieved perfect scores of 100% in 2010, while 83 members of the House received scores of zero. Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), the architect of the GOP’s plan to privatize Medicare and cut Social Security, was one of the House members receiving a grade of zero. Twenty-two members of the U.S. Senate received perfect scores of 100%, while 16 Senators received scores of zero.
The GOP’s desire to privatize Medicare and turn it into voucher program has not only hit a speed bump, it has completely backfired. Their proposal, authored by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), passed the House on April 15, but is becoming increasingly unpopular amongst a wide array of voters. After weeks of angry town hall meetings, this week saw two specific political consequences of the wildly unpopular plan. First, Democrat Kathy Hochul, who was outspoken in her opposition to the plan, won a special election to fill a vacant congressional seat in upstate New York. Hochul’s victory would have been hard to predict months ago, as it is one the most conservative House districts in the state and is a seat the Republicans had held for 40 years. Registered Republicans outnumber Democrats by 30,000 in the district. Many political analysts viewed the race as referendum on the Ryan Medicare plan.
Senate Republicans did not help their relationship with seniors and working Americans this week when they voted to keep $4 billion per year in subsidies for oil companies while supporting a budget plan that would end Medicare as we know it. Even with polls showing a majority of Americans wanting to keep Medicare intact, Senate Republicans voted to keep the oil subsidies after they had previously embraced an agenda to turn Medicare into a voucher system. The nation’s five largest oil companies made nearly $1 trillion in profits in the past decade, and profits are soaring even more with gas prices hovering today around $4 a gallon.