House Republicans released their “Pledge to America” on Thursday for the fall elections, calling to “repeal and replace” the new health care law, and offering little in what they would do for seniors. Edward F. Coyle, Executive Director of the Alliance, responded in a statement, “Today’s agenda provides few specifics for voters concerned about Social Security and Medicare. Conspicuously absent from today’s plan are both aspiring-Speaker John Boehner’s pledge to increase the Social Security retirement age to 70, and also the ‘Roadmap’ of the Budget Committee’s Paul Ryan which would let Wall Street run a privatized Social Security and end Medicare as we know it.” To view Mr. Coyle’s full statement, including questions regarding Republican plans to take away seniors’ benefits under the new health law, go to http://bit.ly/af1hM8. Rep. Ryan admitted on CNN on Thursday that Republicans are still pursuing the privatization of Social Security, saying that the “Pledge to America” encompasses just the “initial first steps” of the House Republican agenda, and that Social Security privatization would come later on.
"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
This week the New York Times ran a powerful portrait of life on the job for many older Americans, showing just how devastating a retirement age increase would be for millions of workers. Against a backdrop of House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) pledging that a Republican-led Congress would increase the age to 70, the Times told the stories of several workers – an airline baggage handler, a nursing assistant, and a tire maker – including one who noted that at work, “dessert with lunch is ibuprofen.” A recent study by the Center for Economic Policy Research found that one in three workers over age 58 works a physically demanding job.
According to the “Talking Points Memo” blog, House Democrats, led by Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) co-chair Raul Grijalva (AZ), are drawing a line in the sand before the White House's fiscal commission: If your report recommends cuts or other changes to Social Security, they will say, you'll lose our support. In a letter to be sent to President Obama, House Democrats will pledge to vote against any legislation based on the commission's report unless Social Security is taken off the table. “We oppose any cuts to Social Security benefits, including raising the retirement age,” the letter reads. “We also oppose any effort to privatize Social Security, in whole or in part.... If any of the Commission's recommendations cut or diminish Social Security in any way, we will stand firmly against them.” The effort is intended to tie the commission's hands, at least on this issue. Grijalva's effort is a response to signals and reports suggesting that the commission is reaching common ground on Social Security cuts. Democrats and advocates are rounding up signers, and will deliver the letter to Obama once the numbers climb, likely after Congress returns later this month. The original cosigners are Grijalva, John Conyers (D-MI), Dan Maffei (D-NY), Mary Jo Kilroy (D-OH), Chellie Pingree (D-ME), and CPC co-chair Lynn Woolsey (D-CA). They issued a “Dear Colleague” letter to House members last Friday and have identified dozens of potential signatories based on pledges and past statements. You can read the text of the letter in its entirety at http://bit.ly/9zwX4F. “Alliance members will have the opportunity to take part in a movement to increase the number of co-sponsors in an upcoming Friday Alert,” said Barbara J. Easterling, President of the Alliance. According to the AFL-CIO blog [http://bit.ly/akYyr8], phasing out, privatizing, or otherwise eliminating Social Security does not sit well with the vast majority of the voting public: the latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll finds that 68% of voters are “uncomfortable” with candidates who support such ideas.
Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ) plans to introduce a resolution expressing the sense of Congress against raising the retirement age when Congress reconvenes this month. "This resolution, especially with a large number of cosponsors, can be a good counterweight to proposals at the Fiscal Commission to raise the retirement age,” said Edward F. Coyle, Executive Director of the
“For 75 years, Social Security has been a bedrock promise. Seniors have earned it with a lifetime of hard work and depend on it to live independently and with dignity in their retirement. That's why I unequivocally oppose proposals to cut Social Security benefits and balance the budget on the backs of seniors by raising the Social Security retirement age,” Giffords wrote in her letter. Rep. Giffords listed several reasons for not raising the retirement age: the surplus within the Social Security trust fund is estimated to grow to more than $4 trillion by 2023; also, the normal retirement age, currently 66, was already increased by two months each year in 1983 until it reaches 67 in 2022. In addition, she wrote that raising the retirement age will place a greater burden on older, blue-collar workers in physically demanding occupations, like nurses, auto workers and teachers, who may not be able to continue to work in their jobs into their mid-to-late 60s; that the burden of raising the retirement age will fall most heavily on older workers with limited employment opportunities; and that life expectancy numbers are skewed in favor of men, higher income earners, and the more educated.
On Wednesday, the
Obama, Alliance Activists Defend Social Security Against Threats
From the White House to cities and towns across the country, supporters of Social Security honored its 75th birthday this week and pledged to fight benefit cuts, an increase in the retirement age, or a privatized system tied to the volatile stock market.
Tomorrow, August 14, is the 75th Anniversary of the day that President Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed the Social Security program into law, and the Alliance is putting together over 100 birthday parties and other events to highlight both the occasion and the importance of the program. For a list of all the activities, go to http://bit.ly/aTIDaP. Event highlights include those in
A new study by the Center for Economic Policy and Research provides evidence of the potentially disastrous consequences of proposals to raise the retirement age to 69, with findings that millions of older Americans work in physically demanding occupations. The link to the press release, which links to the study, is here: http://bit.ly/brtBzh.
Today is the 45th birthday of Medicare, and
Also on Wednesday, Alliance President Barbara J. Easterling wrote in the Huffington Post that “This year is an especially happy birthday for Medicare because the new health reform law makes it easier for seniors to afford to see a doctor, fill a prescription, and receive free preventive screenings and tests for serious diseases.” To see the entire column, go to http://huff.to/dwQYfD. A new ad featuring Andy Griffith, describing important improvements to Medicare made by the Affordable Care Act in advance of Medicare Open Enrollment, can be seen by visiting www.Medicare.gov.
On July 30th, the federal Medicare program turns forty-five, and
The 75th anniversary of Social Security is also this year, on August 14. The Alliance submitted testimony to the Subcommittee on Social Security of the House Ways and Means Committee for the record of a July 15 hearing, “Social Security at 75 Years: More Necessary Now Than Ever.” In it, the