October 29, 2010

Midterm Elections Just Days Away – Your Vote Matters

This Tuesday is Election Day, and seniors have as much at stake as any age group this year. “For anyone you know who thinks that voting doesn’t matter, tell them that 104 lawmakers are on record as supporting the privatization of Social Security,” said Barbara J. Easterling, President of the Alliance.  “If those lawmakers become the majority, we are more likely than ever to see our Social Security benefits gambled away on Wall Street.  Please vote.”  For a list of the 104, go tohttp://thinkprogress.org/2010/10/27/gop-privatize-socialsecurity.  Privatizers are not the only problem that could be coming down the pike with a bad election outcome. In an interview withNational Journal out this week, Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell was asked what his party’s main political job will be after next week’s election. He gave a blunt answer: “The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president.”

“We now have it on record that, if Republicans win control of the Senate, the man who aspires to be Majority Leader is placing his own political interests ahead of the needs of seniors and everyone else,” said Ruben Burks, Secretary-Treasurer of the Alliance.  Seniors are set to have a massive impact on the election results. For anyone who has difficulty casting a ballot, the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights has set up a national hotline at 1-866-Our-Vote to address problems.

Ads Highlight What Will Happen if Retirement Age is Raised to 70

A new television ad, which began airing on Tuesday in six key congressional districts, shows how a Republican takeover of Congress could lead to an increase in the Social Security retirement age.  House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH), the likely Speaker in a GOP takeover, said earlier this year that if his party were to prevail, he would move to raise the retirement age to 70. The 30-second spots, paid for by Protecting America’s Retirees, an independent project of the Alliance for Retired Americans, are customized for each race and are running for one week during programming with large senior audiences. The ads can be viewed on-line athttp://www.youtube.com/paretirees, and can be seen on cable television in the districts of the following Members of Congress: Raúl Grijalva (AZ); Bruce Braley (IA); John Boccieri (OH);Chris Carney (PA); and Mark Critz (PA). In addition, the ad airs in Western Pennsylvania in support of Rep. Joe Sestak, who is running for U.S. Senate. Entitled “Work,” the ad takes a satirical look at what may happen should Boehner get his way.  It shows, among others, a firefighter, a construction worker, a delivery person, and a lifeguard struggling on the job in their later years. “Can you imagine working until 70?  In physically demanding jobs like manufacturing, construction, and the service sector, I just don’t see how you can,” said Edward F. Coyle, the Alliance’s Executive Director.

Pharmaceutical Industry’s Agenda: Keep Drug Prices High

The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) continues to lobby against calls to allow Medicare to negotiate drug prices for seniors.  According to analysts at Avalere Health, average premiums under Medicare Part D will jump by 9.5 percent in 2011 if Medicare does not negotiate them.  This is largely due to cost spikes expected if drug prices are left to the open market.  The debate over Part D is turning into a key policy issue in areas such as Kentucky, where attorney general and U.S. Senate candidate Jack Conway (D) has made Medicare a central message in his campaign. Conway has stated that empowering Medicare to negotiate drug prices would save taxpayers billions of dollars.

See Pictures of Recent Alliance Events

To view photos from last week’s intergenerational event at the University of Colorado-Boulder, click on http://bit.ly/d3DjP1.  To see pictures of the Alliance’s All-Star volunteers from Maryland in action at the DC headquarters phone bank, go to http://bit.ly/a3RqW3.

New Hampshire, Nevada Events Keep the Focus on Social Security

In Nashua on Monday, the New Hampshire Alliance hosted a 75th birthday party for Social Security. Local retirees had a chance to ask Kurt Czarnowski, a regional Communications Director of the Social Security Administration, questions about the program. For photos from that event, go to http://bit.ly/9fQCgX. In December, the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, which includes New Hampshire Senator Judd Gregg, may issue recommendations to Congress on the future of Social Security.

The Nevada Alliance participated in a Labor 2010 event with AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) and Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) on Tuesday this week in Reno. The last three photos at http://bit.ly/d4m2uh are from that day’s event. Nevada Alliance members also took part in a protest outside Sharron Angle’s office on Thursday, telling her that Social Security and Medicare, Supplemental Security Income and Aid to Disabled Children are not, as she has termed them, “wicked ways.”

Alliance Leaders Work to Mobilize Seniors in Ohio, Texas, Across the Country

Ms. Easterling was in Columbus, Ohio on Thursday, and she is in Dallas, Texas today, for meetings with Alliance members about Medicare and Social Security. Similar Alliance meetings are being held this week in California, Florida, Indiana, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. Social Security has been an especially prominent topic in the news during this midterm election season. Also this week, Mr. Coyle took part in tele-conference calls with the press that included Reps.Gabrielle Giffords (AZ) and Harry Teague (NM) as participants.

Partnership Launched to Offer Budget Recommendations

Last week, the non-profit, non-partisan think tanks Demos, the Economic Policy Institute, and the Century Foundation launched “Our Fiscal Security,” a partnership presenting a new framework for thinking about the federal budget. The project launched one day before the conservative Pew-Peterson Commission on Budget Reform published its recommendations. “Our Fiscal Security” has created a one-stop shop for progressive economic analysis on fiscal priorities athttp://www.ourfiscalsecurity.org, with an analysis that addresses making an economic recovery.

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