"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, former 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
Budget Conference is Close to a Deal that Addresses Sequestration
Senate Budget Committee Chairman Patty Murray (D-WA) and House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) are only a few billion dollars in budgetary savings away from a deal that would set spending levels and blunt the impact of across-the-board spending cuts for the next two years, according to Politico and its sources. The two are the lead negotiators of a budget conference that is charged with setting spending levels - and replacing part of the automatic spending cuts known as the sequester - by December 13. Murray and Ryan are trying to wrap up a budget agreement that would set 2014 discretionary spending levels near $1 trillion, while replacing the sequester with alternative, targeted spending cuts. Rumors are that the potential deal includes raising revenue by way of hiking fees on airline ticket purchases and other cost increases. It doesn’t include revenue from tax hikes. More at http://tinyurl.com/k5qs8sy.
Congress can work together to restore benefits and services by closing corporate tax loopholes and ending tax breaks for the wealthy. Tell your elected officials to reject any cuts to Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid as part of the budget deal; pledge now to make a call to tell Congress to end sequestration, close tax loopholes, and raise the revenues needed to protect vital services. See the Alliance’s call to action with coalition partners at http://bit.ly/18JAilg.
Republican Plan Would Go After Federal Employees’ Pension Benefits
As part of the federal budget deal, Reps. Jim Bridenstine (R-OK) and Doug Lamborn (R-CO) have proposed increasing federal employees’ contribution toward their retirement program from 0.8 percent to 2.0 percent of pay over three years. Their plan would also eliminate the Federal Employee Retirement System Annuity Supplement for new employees and provide a more conservative formula, the chained CPI, for the calculation of inflation-adjusted retirement benefits. In short, the two are proposing to more than triple what federal employees pay for their pension, and this would amount to taking $20 billion from federal workers. Already, the federal workforce has contributed $114 billion toward deficit reduction and economic recovery - far more than any other group in America has been asked to sacrifice.
“We cannot have a race to the bottom, where 99% of the population accepts benefit cuts so that the wealthiest 1% can buy an extra yacht,” said Richard Fiesta, Executive Director of the Alliance. “Many middle-class retirees in the U.S. are exasperated at the growing income inequality in our country, and economists are searching for ways to address the problem,” he continued. “A good place to start will be rejecting attempts to force federal workers to pay 5.5 percent more for retirement.” To see the Alliance’s press release on the proposal, go to http://tinyurl.com/kcbandr.
Bankruptcy Judge Rules Detroit Can Cut City Retirees’ Promised Pension Benefits
In Michigan this week, a judge ruled that Detroit, as part of its bankruptcy proceedings, can cut the monthly pension benefits that have been promised to the city’s retirees. The ruling will allow the city to reduce pensions for retired city workers in spite of protections in the state constitution. The ruling in Michigan that public pensions are not protected from cuts could alter the course of bankrupt cities like Stockton and San Bernardino, Calif., that had been operating under the assumption that pensions were untouchable.
“Detroit’s retirees were promised those constitutionally-protected pension benefits,” said Barbara J. Easterling, President of the Alliance. “Governor Rick Snyder (R) could have said that those benefits were off the table as part of any deal, but he didn’t. It’s not fair to those who worked hard and played by the rules, and I am glad that AFSCME officials will appeal the ruling.”
Alan Simpson Calls Social Security and Medicare Lies
On Tuesday, Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson went to Southern Methodist University to discuss the nation’s fiscal situation. In 2010, the two had co-chaired the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, and they later co-founded the Campaign to Fix the Debt. Bowles noted that the current budget cuts are “across the board” and mainly in discretionary spending, instead of Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, as he believes they should have been. Bowles said the best case scenario in this fiscal climate is to make smarter cuts in military spending and to create a “few fees that Republicans won’t call tax increases.” Simpson recommended responding to those not wanting to give up their “precious Medicare” or “precious Social Security” by saying that the programs are a “Terminological inexactitude, you lying son of a b****,” using the phrase meaning “a lie” coined by Sir Winston Churchill. More at http://tinyurl.com/oyk6d9b.
“Social Security and Medicare ARE precious,” said Ruben Burks, Secretary-Treasurer of the Alliance. “I definitely wouldn’t refer to them the way that Alan Simpson does.”
Affordable Care Act Saves Seniors $8.9 Billion
Seniors and people with disabilities with Medicare prescription drug plan coverage have saved $8.9 billion on their prescription drugs thanks to the Affordable Care Act, according to data released last week by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS - http://tinyurl.com/lum6q74).
Conservative Group ALEC Loses Many of its Supporters
On Tuesday, an article in The Guardian newspaper released internal documents revealing the conservative American Legislative Exchange Council’s (ALEC’s) secret corporate influence in statehouses across the country, and showing how supporters are leaving the organization in droves. The influential lobbying network of Republican politicians and big businesses is seeking to avert a looming funding crisis by appealing to major donors that have abandoned it over the past two years, following criticism of its policy on gun laws and positions related to the Trayvon Martin shooting. The Guardian reported that ALEC has identified more than 40 lapsed corporate members it wants to attract back into the fold. See the documents and read the story at http://tinyurl.com/lk9pc8l.
Alliance Raises Money on GivingTuesday
Thousands of non-profits, including the Alliance, came together this week to make the Tuesday after Thanksgiving, GivingTuesday, a day for fundraising. “Thank you to everyone who gave money,” said Ms. Easterling. “We know that times are tough for many of you, and we greatly appreciate everyone who reached into their pockets to support us financially during the past week.”
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