November 19, 2010

Alliance Praises Rep. Jan Schakowsky’s Deficit Reduction Plan

As the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform Co-Chairs continue to release details of their plan to address the nation’s debt, many other proposed solutions are also being offered. On Tuesday, Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), a member of the same Fiscal Commission, released her own deficit reduction plan, after rejecting the proposal of the commission’s co-chairs.  Rep. Schakowsky plans to keep Social Security benefits intact, while making deep reductions at the Pentagon by cutting what many consider unnecessary weapons systems and reducing troop levels.  She calls for a rise in corporate taxes on companies that outsource jobs, as well as controlling excessive pay for chief executives.  Over half the proposed budget cut – $430 billion annually in 2015 – would be achieved by eliminating various corporate tax breaks, ending the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy, and creating a new energy tax through the cap-and-trade system.  At the same time, a proposed additional $200 billion economic stimulus would create jobs and combat unemployment. Schakowsky’s plan calls for “sustained, long-term economic growth by ending the trend of concentrating more and more wealth in the hands of the rich and less and less in the hands of the middle class.  It is the middle class that can afford to buy the products and services that will sustain economic growth for our future.” Her deficit reduction plan would meet and surpass President Obama’s goals and expectations of balancing federal spending and revenues except for the interest on the national debt.  In response to the proposal, Barbara J. Easterling, President of the Alliance, said, “Unlike what Commission Co-Chairs Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson proposed last week, Rep. Schakowsky plans to close the deficit by 2015 without doing so on the backs of America’s seniors, middle class, people with disabilities, and the poor.  This proposal will bring the federal deficit under control without jeopardizing retired workers.” To see the Schakowsky plan, go to http://bit.ly/cIdMhT.

AFL-CIO President Trumka Not Impressed with Domenici-Rivlin Deficit Plan

Also this past Tuesday, another deficit reduction alternative, the Domenici-Rivlin plan, was announced.  The proposal comes from a committee headed up by former Senate Budget Committee Chairman Pete Domenici (R-NM) and former White House budget director Alice Rivlin, and which also includes former governors, mayors, senators, congressional staff directors and labor union leaders. Referring to both the Bowles-Simpson plan and the Domenici-Rivlin plans, Richard Trumka, President of the AFL-CIO, stated, “Neither of these plans is even minimally credible.  At every juncture, they duck any fiscal measures that might impact the super-wealthy, choosing instead to stick working people with the bill for Wall Street’s party.  By cutting Social Security and Medicare benefits, both plans threaten the retirement security of millions of Americans.”

Call Congress on November 30th to Protect Social Security!

The Social Security Works & Strengthen Social Security (SSS) Campaign wants your help in flooding Capitol Hill with thousands of phone calls to protect Social Security on Tuesday, November 30, a national call-in day.  The goal of each call will be to urge elected officials to oppose both benefit cuts to Social Security and the raising of the retirement age.  As time nears for the full Fiscal Commission to release their official proposal, it will also be important to urge elected officials to oppose the Commission’s proposals to cut Social Security. The SSS Campaign is providing an email message, call-in script, and the following phone number for November 30: 1- 866-529-7630.  Watch for these materials to come by e-mail from the Alliance next week.  Tell Congress “NO!” to Social Security benefit cuts, and to keep their hands off Social Security!

GAO: Raising Retirement Age Would Hit Low-Income Workers, Minorities Extra Hard

The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report on Friday highlighting the risks of raising the retirement age.  The Senate Aging Committee Chair, Sen. Herb Kohl (D-WI), had requested the report to address potential problems Americans would face with raising the Early Eligibility Age (EEA), the earliest eligibility age at which workers first qualify for retirement benefits, or the Full Retirement Age (FRA). The report found that raising the retirement age for Social Security would disproportionately hurt low-income workers and minorities, and increase disability claims by older people unable to work. The projected spike in disability claims could harm Social Security’s finances, because disability benefits typically are higher than early retirement payments, GAO concluded. Under current law, people can start drawing reduced, early retirement benefits from Social Security at age 62. Full benefits are available at 66, a threshold gradually increasing to 67 for people who were born in 1960 or later. The fiscal commission’s leaders, Bowles and Simpson, last week proposed a gradual increase in the full retirement age, to 69 in about 2075. The early retirement age would go to 64 the same year. About one-fourth of workers age 60 and 61 – just under the early retirement age – reported a health condition that limited their ability to work. Among those older workers, African-Americans and Hispanics were much more likely to report fair or poor health than whites, according to the report. “Raising the retirement age would make it impossible for many workers to continue to work in their current conditions, while crippling their eligibility for retirement benefits,” saidEdward F. Coyle, Executive Director of the Alliance. “The GAO’s report has many striking statistics that show the harm in raising the retirement age.”  To read the report, click here:http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d11125.pdf.

Conservative Congressman-Elect from Maryland Fights for Health Care – His Own

On Monday, newly elected conservative Congressman-Elect Andy Harris (R-MD) complained about having to wait a month after being sworn in to receive his government-subsidized health care. This comes after a bitter campaign in which Harris denounced the expansion of government health care and loudly voiced his opposition to the recently-enacted health care law. As a candidate, Harris had declared that government-run health care “got us into bankruptcy and will keep us in bankruptcy.” However, Harris got up during a congressional orientation for newly elected members this week and asked if he could purchase insurance from the same government to cover the gap. “Harris campaigned against the expansion of government health care, but apparently, when in need of his own coverage, it’s a different story,” said Ruben Burks, Secretary-Treasurer of the Alliance.

Editor’s Note: The next Friday Alert will be published on December 3, 2010.  Have a Happy Thanksgiving!

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