April 29, 2011

In More Than 50 Cities, Activists Say, “Don’t Make Us Work ‘Til We Die!”

This week, the Alliance, in coordination with the Strengthen Social Security Campaign and other groups, held events in more than 50 cities to counter Rep. Paul Ryan’s Republican budget, which passed in the House two weeks ago. The budget included painful changes that would deeply affect seniors, such as privatization of Medicare – turning care over to insurance companies; reducing Medicaid benefits by $1.4 trillion; and raising the retirement age, forcing people to work much too late into their lives. Click on http://bit.ly/eelptA and http://bit.ly/me7igN to learn more. This week, the Alliance and other groups maintained a strong grassroots presence at town hall meetings, rallies, and congressional district offices, decrying freshmen and swing district GOP Reps. for their votes on the Ryan Budget. “The activists have come out to say that the Ryan Budget would ultimately force seniors to ‘Work ‘Til We Die,’” said Edward F. Coyle, Executive Director of the Alliance. “Why should retirees face backbreaking cuts while the super-wealthy see more tax breaks?”

One event that saw a particularly large turnout was a town hall meeting in Kenosha, Wisconsin, inside Rep. Ryan’s home district.  Politico reported that “Ryan was met by an overflow crowd that was overwhelmingly opposed to his plan to kill Medicare.” Here’s a video from Rep. Ryan’s town hall: http://bit.ly/kwi211. Such blatant opposition could be seen at countless town hall meetings across the nation this week. To see the Arizona Alliance’s event photos on Facebook, go tohttp://on.fb.me/mrGTML. Also, the Florida Alliance created a video from a “Work ’Til We Die/Thank-you to Sen. Bill Nelson” gathering at http://bit.ly/laXAgG.

Alliance Radio Ads Protest Republican Cuts to Medicare, Social Security

This week, the Alliance also began running radio ads to protest the Republican budget cuts to Medicare and Social Security. The ads will air on the radio for seven days in Colorado, Missouri, and West Virginia. As many Members of Congress work to shrink Social Security and Medicare, the ads remind voters that the Republican budget would “…use our money to give more tax breaks to millionaires and corporations, and cut nursing home care and Social Security, too.” During a speech at the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) 4th District meeting in Morgantown, West Virginia on Thursday, Alliance President Barbara J. Easterlingtold union members that the Alliance ads were used to urge Senators from those three states to stand up for Social Security and Medicare. To hear the ad, go to http://bit.ly/h0ZHX1. Conversely, the 60 Plus Association, a conservative seniors organization, is spending $800,000 on radio ads thanking House Republicans for their votes that would dismantle and destroy Medicare.

As if Privatizing Wasn’t Enough…

In an article entitled, “As if Privatizing Wasn’t Enough,” Jonathan Cohn of The New Republicwrites that under the Ryan Plan, seniors would have to enroll in private insurance, using a federal subsidy too skimpy to pay for adequate coverage, instead of getting comprehensive coverage through traditional Medicare. He adds that that’s not the only change in the House Republican budget: Under current law, you become eligible for Medicare on the day you turn 65. If the Republicans get their way, you wouldn’t become eligible for the new Medicare voucher until the day you turn 67 ( http://bit.ly/fzWNSB ).

Despite that, a poll conducted by Gallup/USA Today found that the group most open to Rep. Ryan’s budget plan is the group that will be affected the most by it – seniors. The poll finds 48% of seniors (those 65 and over) support Ryan’s plan over President Obama’s plan, while 42% back the president. Overall, 44% back Obama’s plan, while 43% support Ryan ( http://bit.ly/fUn0oQ ). “More people need to know the truth, and it’s our job to make that happen,” said Ruben Burks, Secretary-Treasurer of the Alliance. “When the media covers sideshows and not real issues, there is definitely a price to be paid.”

Medicare Offering Free Wellness Checkups and Preventive Screenings

A provision of the health care reform law allows Medicare recipients to receive free wellness checkups and preventive tests to help avoid and control diseases. Some of the tests offered include mammograms, colonoscopies, and cardiovascular screenings. As many as 300,000 seniors have taken advantage of the checkups in the past three months; however, only a small fraction of beneficiaries has received any preventive tests. Experts believe that as more information is released about the program and more beneficiaries begin to understand the law, the number of people using these services will drastically increase. Information about Medicare and a list of the preventive services that are now being offered can be found in the “Medicare & You” handbook (available at www.medicare.gov or at 800-MEDICARE), the users’ manual sent to all Medicare beneficiaries.

Preparing Online Tools for 2012

Democrats are no stranger to using Facebook and Twitter to reach voters and constituents. In fact, social media was heavily employed in the campaign to elect President Obama. However, many Republicans shied away from social media and relied on more traditional campaign strategies. Now that the effectiveness of social media has been proven, Republicans are flocking to the Internet. According to a study by the Pew Research Center on Internet and Society, Republican voters and supporters of the “Tea Party” movement caught up with Democrats in their use of social media in 2010. However, with 19.3 million friends on Facebook, President Obama still remains a heavy contender in the social media campaigns. Social Media outlets such as Facebook are an effective way to reach out to friends, keep in touch with family, learn about current events, meet up with people who share you passion for activism, and possibly connect with elected officials. To stay informed about events that affect seniors, join 2,000 of your fellow retiree activists and become friends with the Alliance on Facebook!

Legislative Conference Reminder

Help us mark our 10-year Anniversary at our upcoming Legislative Conference, Celebrating Our Past, Fighting for Your Future, on September 6 – 9, 2011 in Washington, D.C.! Take part in the discussion on the direction that our country should take concerning retirement security. Workshops will include Checking the Pulse: Medicare and Health Care Reform. Information and registration forms will be mailed shortly. You may also register online at http://bit.ly/hQro1V. Please contact event coordinator Joni Jones at 202-637-5377 or jjones@retiredamericans.orgwith any questions.

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