March 18, 2011

What's next for Wisconsin's Public Workers

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.

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March 11, 2011

Wisconsin Lawmakers Take Away Collective Bargaining Rights of Public Workers

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.

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March 04, 2011

Public Workers in Wisconsin, Ohio Still Threatened; Retirees Continue to Protest

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.

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February 25, 2011

Alliance Members Nationwide Support Their Brothers and Sisters in Wisconsin

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 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  “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!”

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February 18, 2011

President Obama's Budget Proposal Does Not Include Social Security Cuts

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.

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February 11, 2011

Republicans in House Begin Attempt to Block Funding for Health Care Reform

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.

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February 04, 2011

Senate Rejects Republican Attempt to Repeal the Health Care Law

On Wednesday, Republicans in the U.S. Senate tried to repeal the health care law, but the attempt was defeated, 51-47. All Democrats present voted to keep the law, while all Republicans present voted to repeal it. Two senators, Mark Warner (D-VA) and Joe Lieberman (I-CT), were not present for the day’s votes. Also on Wednesday, the Senate voted overwhelmingly, 81-17, to strip a tax-reporting provision of the law that opponents say overburdens small business.


On Monday, a Florida judge ruled that the health care law places an unconstitutional requirement on Americans to buy health insurance. Now, two federal judges have struck at this key provision. The cases are almost certainly headed for the Supreme Court, which many predict will decide the law's fate by the spring of 2012, according to The Washington Post. Legal experts say it seems possible that the high court might strike down all or part of the law. Next, the two political parties will settle in for a year of smaller battles. Republicans in Congress will seek to deny the Obama administration the money it needs to implement parts of the law. Democrats believe Americans will become attached to the law’s provisions - including closing the doughnut hole gap in Medicare Part D prescription drug coverage and free preventive screenings for seniors. The high court's decision, if it does get the final word, may turn on Justice Anthony Kennedy, who is often the swing vote.


Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) said this week that the Florida judge’s ruling doesn't represent the “big picture" of the White House’s biggest domestic achievement. Durbin pointed out that Social Security, the minimum wage, and civil rights laws were also challenged but “survived.”

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January 28, 2011

President's State of the Union Address Avoids Call to Cut Social Security

With Social Security expected to be on the agenda, the Alliance held 46 State of the Union address “watch parties” on Tuesday in 21 states to educate retirees on key issues. In his remarks, President Obama said, “To put us on solid ground, we should also find a bipartisan solution to strengthen Social Security for future generations.  And we must do it without putting at risk current retirees, the most vulnerable, or people with disabilities; without slashing benefits for future generations; and without subjecting Americans’ guaranteed retirement income to the whims of the stock market.”


A Social Security letter from 30 state Alliance Presidents sent last week to Obama may have made a difference, since he also did not call for an increase in the retirement age. “While Tuesday night's speech was a success, the battle is far from over. Soon there will be contentious debates surrounding the president's Fiscal Year 2012 budget proposal, Congress completing the Fiscal Year 2011 appropriations, and the raising of the federal debt limit. These will be heated battles, and it will be up to us to help retirees separate fact from fiction,” said Edward F. Coyle, Executive Director of the Alliance.

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January 21, 2011

Alliance Members on Guard as State of the Union Address Approaches

On Tuesday, January 25th, the President’s annual State of the Union Address will air nationally. When delivering his speech, President Obama may address critical retiree issues such as Social Security and Medicare. In the past, the President has supported the Alliance position on Social Security: no benefit cuts, no raising of the retirement age, no cuts in the COLA (Cost of Living Adjustment) and no privatization. Because this speech is so important, Alliance members will be hosting 38 State of the Union watch parties in 17 states. Go to for complete State of the Union information, and to find a party near you! If you are interested in hosting a watch party of your own, it is not too late. Please click on for a handy toolkit, and contact to let us know of your plans.


On Thursday, thirty state Alliance Presidents wrote a letter to President Obama, delivering the message directly that he has “the opportunity to renew the nation’s commitment to the Social Security program during the State of the Union Address,” and urging him to reject false claims that Social Security increases the federal budget deficit.  To see the letter, go to  “Social Security did not create our nation’s fiscal problems, nor should it be used to fix them,” summarized Edward F. Coyle, Executive Director of the Alliance. “The current debt situation should not be a political cover for attacking Social Security.”

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January 14, 2011

Shootings in Tucson are Personal for the Alliance

Doctors said on Thursday that Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ) is making a miraculous recovery after being shot in the head in an assassination attempt that killed six and left 13 others wounded. According to USA Today, Giffords, 40, is opening her eyes, responding to commands, and moving both of her legs and arms. “Rep. Gabrielle Giffords has been a great friend to seniors,” said Edward F. Coyle, Executive Director of the Alliance. “Many Alliance members in Arizona know the congresswoman and her staff personally, and we wish her a full recovery. Our thoughts and prayers are with the loved ones of those who did not make it, as well as all of those who are still recovering.” On September 28, 2010, Rep. Giffords introduced a resolution opposing any increase in the Social Security retirement age, noting that any increase in the age equates to an unfair decrease in benefits.


Among those who died in the horrible Tucson shooting of Rep. Giffords were three retirees: Dorothy Morris, 76; Phyllis Schneck, 79; and Dorwin Stoddard, 76. Also killed was Gabe Zimmerman, 30, who was the director of community outreach for Giffords and was engaged to be married. He handled thousands of issues raised by constituents out of the congresswoman’s offices in Tucson and Sierra Vista. Arizona Alliance President Doug Hart knew Zimmerman. “He just had a heart for people,” said Hart. “Everybody loved the guy, and that’s a hard thing for a young man to pull off with seniors. I remember telling him I’ve been married for 42 years and he said he hoped he could be married that long.” A fifth shooting victim who died, John Roll, 63, was named Arizona's chief federal judge in 2006.  He had won acclaim for a career as a respected jurist and leader who had pushed to beef up the court's strained bench to handle a growing number of border crime-related cases. The youngest victim, Christina Taylor Green, was only 9.


“There is no place for violence in politics – or anywhere in a civilized society. As a nation, we must be sure that seniors are not deterred from meeting face-to-face with their elected officials due to fear, or due to proposed access restrictions that result from this crime,” Alliance Secretary-Treasurer Ruben Burks said.

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