October 15, 2010

Alliance Supports Legislation to Address Lack of 2011 Social Security COLA

The federal government announced today that tens of millions of Social Security recipients will go through another year in 2011 without an increase in their monthly benefits, marking only the second year without an increase since automatic adjustments for inflation were adopted. The first year was 2010. The cost-of-living adjustments, or COLAs, are set each year by an inflation measure that was adopted by Congress back in 1975. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) announced that when Congress returns in November, he will press for passage of $250 in emergency relief for Social Security recipients and disabled veterans to compensate for the lack of a COLA. That same proposal was defeated in the Senate on March 3, when only one Republican voted to allow the amendment to be considered. Sanders said the estimated $13 billion cost of the help for seniors is only a fraction of the $70 billion in annual tax breaks that Senate Republicans are pushing for the wealthiest Americans.

The House will vote in November – after congressional elections – on a bill to provide a $250 payment to Social Security recipients, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said. Already, in July, House Ways and Means Social Security Subcommittee Chairman Rep. Earl Pomeroy (D-ND) introduced H.R. 5987, The Seniors Protection Act of 2010, legislation to assist seniors, retired veterans, and disabled individuals on Social Security with a one-time $250 payment in the event that no inflation adjustment for 2011 is announced. President Obama also supports the $250 payment. “The Alliance endorses H.R. 5987, and will work in every way possible to pass it, as well as Sen. Sanders’ legislation in the Senate,” said Edward F. Coyle, Executive Director of the Alliance. “We should also remember that, as difficult as things are in this country now, they would become worse if candidates are elected on November 2 who want to cut or privatize Social Security.”

Many House Seats are in Play as Midterm Elections Approach

In a briefing with reporters on Tuesday, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka released internal polling that has 75 House Democratic seats in play. The Republicans only need to win 39 of those seats to take control of the House. Thirty-seven of those seats are in districts with “high union density” — having 40,000 union voters or more — and those voters will be key for Democrats to hold onto control of the U.S. House of Representatives. Stu Rothenberg, editor of theRothenberg Political Report, puts the number of competitive races higher — 97 — with 88 Democratic seats and nine GOP districts making the cut. “The Alliance will continue educating and mobilizing seniors until the polls close on November 2,” said Barbara J. Easterling, President of the Alliance. “Pundits agree that seniors always have an especially large say in who wins midterm elections.”

Alliance Leaders Fan out across the Country

Ms. Easterling was in Kankakee, Illinois on Monday, while Mr. Coyle was in Canton, Ohio on Wednesday and in Raleigh, North Carolina on Thursday.  Both leaders were traveling for meetings with Alliance members to discuss Medicare and Social Security. Richard Fiesta, Director of the Department of Government and Political Affairs, was in Kansas City, Missouri on Thursday on a parallel mission.  Social Security has been an especially prominent topic in the news during this midterm election season. Similar Alliance meetings were held this week in Arizona; Connecticut; Florida; Georgia; Iowa; Pennsylvania, and other locations, as well as in St. Louis, Missouri.

California Alliance Holds Convention, Event with College Students

Members of the California Alliance for Retired Americans (CARA), United Seniors of Oakland and Alameda County, Social Security Works, and dozens of other organizations and individuals were in Oakland on Wednesday for CARA’s Annual Convention and an intergenerational rally at Laney College with students about the importance of Social Security for future generations.  “CARA addressed fears promoted by those wanting to cut and privatize Social Security that it will not be there for future generations,” said Ruben Burks, Secretary-Treasurer of the Alliance. Photos from the Laney College event are at http://bit.ly/9pDI9N. Convention photos are available athttp://bit.ly/bSDVEN, and Alliance blog coverage is at http://ara.typepad.com. Following the elections, Nan Brasmer remains the CARA President, and Dawn Bronsema is Secretary. Community-based (i.e., not from a labor union) Vice Presidents elected were: Michael Lyon,Arnie Kasendorf, Karen Smulevitz, and Ronnie Kinney. Vice Presidents appointed by their unions and installed into office were Pauline Brooks, Judy Katz, Kay McVay, and Hene Kelly.

Power Lunches, Candidate Forums, and an Especially Clever Protest

On Monday, the Wisconsin Alliance (WIARA) held their 15th annual Power Lunch, recognizing a number of Wisconsin citizens who have worked to enhance the lives of retirees.  The group recognized Rep. David Obey (D-WI), who is retiring this year. On Thursday, WIARA, along with sponsoring organizations AARP Wisconsin and the Coalition of Wisconsin Aging Groups, held a candidate forum for the 80th Assembly District at the Monroe Senior Center. On Tuesday, the Illinois Alliance held its 2010 Senior Power Lunch in Des Plaines.  The theme of the event was “Protecting Retirement Security,” and speakers included Illinois AFL-CIO President Michael Carrigan and Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL).

At a separate forum, U.S. Senate candidates Linda McMahon (R) and Dick Blumenthal (D) of Connecticut joined other candidates at the West Hartford Senior Center in Connecticut on Wednesday. The event was co-sponsored by the Connecticut Alliance for Retired Americans and one of its member groups, the Senior West Hartford Advocacy Team. Kevin Lynch, former president of the Connecticut Alliance, served as the event’s moderator. The Arizona Alliance is also planning a Gubernatorial Forum for this Monday in Phoenix.

When donors flocked to a Republican fundraiser on Thursday, Florida Alliance activists tried to crash the party. Five protesters posed as members of a fictitious lobbying group called RepubliCorp. They drove to the fundraiser in Sandestin dressed as “fat cats” in top hats and carrying fake money and cigars. They had a $300,000 novelty check made out to House Minority Leader John Boehner, the event’s special guest. They said they wanted to “thank” him for lining the pockets of big industry. However, security sniffed out the intruders. For a picture, click onhttp://bit.ly/aiKWNN.

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