October 01, 2010

Fiscal Commission Meets for the Fifth Time as NOW Confronts Alan Simpson

The President’s National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, looking for ways to balance the federal budget, met for the fifth time on Wednesday, but hard decisions are not expected until after the November 2 elections. Social Security is one of several areas being considered by the panel for changes, and picketers outside the meeting demanded the commission keep its hands off the program. A top target of protesters was Alan Simpson, the former Republican senator and now a co-chairman of the commission, who this summer described Social Security as “a milk cow with 310 million tits.”  The National Organization for Women (NOW) has a new slogan: “Tits for an Ass,” and NOW members arrived on Capitol Hill on Wednesday with 1,500 rubber baby bottle tops (nipples) and presented them to the Fiscal Commission as part of its campaign calling for the removal of Simpson. According to The Washington Post, NOW President Terry O'Neill told Simpson that she was giving him the nipples “in hopes that you'll have the decency to resign from the commission.”  When Simpson said that cutting Social Security had historically never happened, O’Neill responded, “Well let's hope that your efforts to make it happen now fail.”
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September 24, 2010

House GOP Agenda Leaves Seniors with Unanswered Questions

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.

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September 17, 2010

New York Times Spotlights Perils for Older Workers if Retirement Age Increased

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.


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September 10, 2010

House Democrats Say: No Social Security Cuts!

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.


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September 03, 2010

Tell Congress: Don't Raise Retirement Age!

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 Alliance. In a “Dear Colleague” letter sent to members of the House recently, Giffords said that an increase in the retirement age is simply a cut in benefits. Current cosponsors include: Reps. Travis Childers (D-MS), Paul Tonko (D-NY), Peter DeFazio (D-OR), Laura Richardson (D-CA), Diane Watson (D-CA), Joseph Crowley (D-NY), Carol Shea-Porter (D-NH) and Joe Courtney (D-CT). To ask your Member of Congress to co-sponsor the resolution, go to http://bit.ly/9SbUfN.


“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.


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August 27, 2010

Alliance Leaders Demand Alan Simpson Resignation from Presidential Panel

On Wednesday, the Alliance wrote President Obama to demand the resignation of Alan Simpson as Co-Chair of the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform. Alliance President Barbara J. Easterling and Executive Director Ed Coyle wrote the White House in the wake of a growing pattern of offensive comments Simpson has been making about senior citizens, the most recent of which was an e-mail he wrote to the Executive Director of the Older Women’s League, in which he said that Social Security is “like a milk cow with 310 million tits.”  In his message, former Sen. Simpson also told the prominent aging policy leader to “call when you get honest work.” Easterling and Coyle wrote that his remarks are “conduct unbecoming a person named to co-chair a presidential panel.  Moreover, it is the latest in a series of derisive and inappropriate comments Mr. Simpson has made about our nation’s seniors and the Social Security benefits they have earned and rely upon to make ends meet.” Previously, he had referred to seniors as “greedy geezers,” said that lower-income Americans are “lesser people in society,” and declared that he is frustrated hearing from retirees who, “live in gated communities and drive their Lexus to the Perkins restaurant to get the AARP discount.” For a copy of the Alliance letter, go to http://bit.ly/ci3x2S.


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August 20, 2010

Obama, Alliance Activists Defend Social Security Against Threats

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.

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August 13, 2010

Alliance Celebrates the 75th Birthday of Social Security

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 Tucson, Arizona, where FDR’s granddaughter is the special speaker at a lunch, and Rock Hill, South Carolina, where Alliance members will present Rep. John Spratt (D) with a special plaque to thank him for his service, along with a giant card signed by constituents asking him to continue protecting and preserving Social Security. Rep. Spratt will then cut a birthday cake and announce the winner of the raffle for whacking rights to a large “Fat Cat” piñata. Alliance President Barbara J. Easterling will call into the Social Security-Medicare party in Omaha, Nebraska to address those in attendance. “Retirees have much to be proud of as Social Security turns 75.  It is a true American success story, one that has kept generations of seniors out of poverty, and allowed millions to retire with dignity and peace of mind. But this milestone anniversary is tainted by calls, in the name of deficit reduction, to cut Social Security benefits and raise the retirement age,” said Edward F. Coyle, Executive Director of the Alliance.


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August 06, 2010

American Stories: Social Security Successes

The Alliance has received a great response to its American Stories Project, a compilation of anecdotes about how Social Security has impacted members’ lives, or the lives of a family member; neighbor or friend. The compilation is a lead-up to celebrations for Social Security’s 75th birthday next Saturday; to see events in your area, go to http://bit.ly/aTIDaP. Barbara Owen of Massachusetts, for example, told us: “I've paid into [Social Security] since I was 16 years old, and now, although I also have a small pension and (presently) a part-time job, it helps to keep a roof over my own head.” You can check out other inspiring responses here: http://bit.ly/bGvKY2 .  If you have a story to share, please submit it here: http://bit.ly/9JgsRm, or submit photos or videos by email to ARACommunications@retiredamericans.org.

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.



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July 30, 2010

Alliance Celebrates the 45th Birthday of Medicare

Today is the 45th birthday of Medicare, and Alliance members are holding dozens of events from New Hampshire to Arizona commemorating the occasion! From cake in Indianapolis to lobbying visits in Missouri, the events used a wide array of treats and techniques to drive home the point that Medicare has literally been a lifesaver for millions of seniors. To see the photos from the party of Judy Cato, Executive Vice President of the Alliance, and her crew in White Plains, Maryland on Wednesday, go to http://bit.ly/9VGoP2.  For video footage, go to http://bit.ly/9uy0RM.


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.


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