"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
Grand Bargain: A Possible Scenario
On Tuesday, Forbes magazine’s online site offered a write-up on the likelihood of a “grand bargain” between Democrats and Republicans that would shrink the national deficit but cut earned benefits for seniors. Available at http://tinyurl.com/czo72e2, it was written by Bob Rosenblatt, a writer and editor specializing in aging issues. He is also a senior fellow at the National Academy of Social Insurance, a think tank dealing with Social Security and Medicare. The article addresses issues including a possible cut in your annual Social Security cost-of-living increases, as well as an increase in the age of eligibility for Medicare, from today’s 65 to 67, and explains the latest tweaks in the plan of Fiscal Commission co-chairs Alan Simpson, a former Republican senator, and Erskine Bowles, a former Clinton White House chief of staff.
President Obama’s 2014 budget proposal calls for cutting the size of Social Security’s annual cost-of-living benefit increases by switching to the chained CPI (Consumer Price Index) starting in 2015. The chained CPI grows, on average, about 0.3% a year more slowly than the standard CPI, meaning the president’s proposal would cut Social Security benefits by roughly $230 billion over 10 years. Obama recently ruled out raising Medicare’s eligibility age from 65 to 67, but Republicans favor it.
Asked if he believes Republicans would raise taxes in order to cut seniors' benefits, Len Nichols, director of the Center for Health Policy Research and Ethics at George Mason University said, “If they want the deal, they’ll give on revenues. If not, they will try to use the chained CPI as a wedge to drive the Democratic Party away from the president.” A new fact sheet and graph from the group Social Security Works explains what the chained CPI would mean. Go to http://tinyurl.com/d4gjvfd to view it.
Tell Your U.S. Senators to Co-Sponsor the Resolution Opposing the Chained CPI
Last week, Alliance members helped drive an increase in the number of co-sponsors for the Cicilline Resolution. This House Resolution expresses clear opposition to using the Chained CPI to calculate cost-of-living adjustments (COLAs) for Social Security benefits. This week, the Alliance is doing the same in the Senate. We are encouraging our members to write their Senators and urge co-sponsorship of the Senate version of the Cicilline Resolution, S. Con. Res. 15, which has been introduced by Senators Tom Harkin (D-IA), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI). For a list of Senators who are already co-sponsors, go to http://tinyurl.com/ckogdz8. If you have not done so yet, and would like to send a letter to your Senators urging them to become co-sponsors, go to http://tinyurl.com/bvvoomx. To see the Alliance letter from headquarters, sent Monday and urging all U.S. Senators to co-sponsor the resolution, go to http://tinyurl.com/cvexrn4.
House Democratic Caucus’ Seniors Task Force Re-Launches
On Wednesday, the House Democratic Caucus re-launched its Seniors Task Force, an initiative to raise awareness on issues that matter most to America’s seniors and work to protect and strengthen vital services that the aging population has earned through a lifetime of hard work. The Task Force, co-chaired by Reps. Jan Schakowsky (IL) and Doris Matsui (CA), announced that it will host its first meeting of the 113th Congress this week. The Task Force already has 38 members and expects to welcome more. For additional information, watch the video at http://tinyurl.com/crokt2t.
“The Task Force is a key weapon against attempts to cut seniors’ earned benefits and reduce their retirement security,” said Barbara J. Easterling, President of the Alliance.
Senate Votes to End Air Traffic Controller Furloughs; Other Sequester Cuts Remain
Yesterday, the U.S. Senate unanimously passed a bill to end the furloughs of air traffic controllers. The bill would allow the U.S. transportation secretary to move $253 million from other programs in order to pay the air traffic controllers to work full time. This flexibility was not previously possible due to the across the board nature of the sequester cuts. The House of Representatives is expected to approve the measure. For more on the vote, read NPR’s write up at http://tinyurl.com/c2o2jb9.
“While we are pleased that the Senate has taken action to end the furloughs, piecemeal fixes and moving money around will not fundamentally change the impact of the sequester,” said Edward F. Coyle, Executive Director of the Alliance. “Until legislation is passed to repeal all of the sequester cuts, many programs vital to seniors, including meals on wheels, cancer clinics, and medical research, will remain crippled due to lack of funding.”
Scams are tied to Confusion over Health Care Reform
Law enforcement agencies are reporting an increase in health insurance scams across the country. Many of the fraudsters seem to be preying on the public’s confusion over the massive changes taking place in the nation’s health care system. According to Kaiser Health News, seniors are often targets -- they’re more likely to be home to answer the phone, and they tend to have retirement savings that scammers hope to tap. But they aren’t the only victims: The federal government received nearly 83,000 complaints of “imposter scams” last year—up 12 percent from the year before (http://tinyurl.com/bpdlbq4).
“Don’t take calls from people you did not initiate contact with, who are offering to help you with your health care needs,” advised Ruben Burks, Secretary-Treasurer of the Alliance. “And definitely don’t give them any personal information.”
Alliance Leadership Travel
Mr. Coyle was in New York on Wednesday for the New York City Alliance membership meeting. “I thoroughly enjoyed the enthusiastic question and answer session,” said Mr. Coyle. “It was wonderful to have such a great turnout.”
Did You Know…
“Opponents of any change in the Social Security CPI have collected 2.4 million signatures and are keeping the pressure on the White House.” (Forbes, referring to petitions opposing the chained CPI).
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