August 26, 2011
New Hampshire Alliance Takes on Mitt Romney
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney told a group of New Hampshire seniors, including members of the Alliance, that he supports raising the retirement age or cutting benefits, as opposed to asking all taxpayers to pay a fair share to strengthen Social Security. Currently, all workers pay the Social Security payroll tax on the first $106,800 of their earnings; anything over that amount is exempt from the Social Security payroll tax. That means a grocery clerk or warehouse worker pays a bigger chunk of their income to Social Security than a hedge fund manager. In a meeting in Lebanon, N.H., Alliance State President Charlie Balban asked Romney if he would support raising the Social Security payroll tax beyond its current $106,800 cap to help strengthen Social Security. One member of the audience told Romney, “We’re just asking that everybody pay at the same rate.” Romney said he was opposed to having the wealthy pay Social Security payroll taxes on more or all of their income. He said he instead would support raising the retirement age or cutting benefits by changing the way the Consumer Price Index (CPI) is calculated. CPI is used to determine cost of living adjustments for Special Security recipients. Romney is referring to a proposed new inflation formula known as “chained CPI,” which, if implemented, would mean that a worker in 2011 at age 65 will see his or her Social Security benefits slashed by $6,000 over 15 years.
Referring to all of the Republican candidates for President, Terry Lochhead, Senior Field Organizer for the Alliance’s Northeast Region, told The Boston Globe, “All of their plans to reduce the deficit by cutting programs that benefit retirees, instead of raising taxes on the super-wealthy or cutting out corporate loopholes, have really brought them right into our focus.” To see a video of Mr. Balban’s exchange with Romney, go to http://bit.ly/mQDjJw. For all the recent news articles that mention the Alliance, go to http://bit.ly/okA6wc. Also, to see more on former Governor Romney’s position on Social Security, which includes means testing, go to http://bit.ly/puel6P.
Social Security Disability Insurance Program Draws Attention
An Associated Press story earlier this week [ http://wapo.st/ne0uRO ] described how the Social Security disability insurance program is projected to experience a funding shortfall as early as 2017, meaning that benefits could not be paid in full and on time to those eligible to receive them. While the story struck a frightening tone, the basic financial soundness of Social Security has not changed. Benefits can be fully paid for approximately the next 25 years.
According to the Strengthen Social Security campaign, a coalition of 320 national and state organizations, including the Alliance, a few basic facts about Social Security help explain the implications of the AP story. Social Security is comprised of two programs with their own trust funds – Old Age and Survivors Insurance (OASI) and Disability Insurance (DI). OASI is fully funded through 2037, according to the Social Security Trustees; DI is fully funded through 2017, according to the Trustees. Combined, both programs are fully funded through 2037, according to the Congressional Budget Office, and through 2035, according to the Trustees. In the past, when one of the two trust funds had insufficient income, Congress quietly and quickly reallocated the income to the two funds to ensure that they were on the same financial footing. It has six years to do so once again. “The Social Security Disability Insurance program could be made solvent – with no additional spending – for approximately 25 years, if Congress passes a simple transfer of funds,” said Barbara J. Easterling, President of the Alliance.
Nevada Alliance Holds its Convention
The Nevada Alliance had a very successful convention this Monday and Tuesday. NARA President Scotty Watts and other officers were re-elected by acclamation. Many said that it was the most informative convention ever, focusing on Medicare, Social Security and Medicaid. In addition to presentations on these issues by Richard Fiesta, Director of the Department of Government and Political Affairs, and Randall Downey, Vice President of NARA, attendees heard from Rep. Shelley Berkley, Nevada Treasurer Kate Marshall, Nevada Secretary of StateRoss Miller, State Controller Kim Wallin, State Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto, and many others.
State Chapter Round-up: Vermont, Connecticut, and Indiana
About 40 people attended an energy-filled rally on the Statehouse steps in Montpelier, Vermont last Thursday in support of Social Security and Medicare. The event was organized by the Vermont Chapter of the Alliance, along with the AFL-CIO. To see the coverage, go tohttp://bit.ly/qApvV1.
The Connecticut Alliance was well-represented on Tuesday at the Legislative Office Building in Hartford. Attending a congressional hearing on elder abuse hosted by U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal were chapter President Cal Bunnell, organizer John Hampton, regional board member and former chapter President Kevin Lynch, and former Alliance organizer Mary Elia. To see a video from the event, go to http://bit.ly/orn342.
Last week, over 500 people, many of them Indiana Alliance members, attended a meeting of the Indianapolis City-County Council Meeting that addressed the often harsh conditions and low wages faced by area hotel workers. To learn more about the issue, read a Huffington Postcolumn at http://huff.to/nU23Hf. To see related pictures, go to http://bit.ly/r7ilZ9.
Rep. Xavier Becerra, Super Committee Member, to Speak at Legislative Conference
Join us at the Alliance’s 10th anniversary Legislative Conference, Celebrating Our Past, Fighting for Your Future, on September 6-9, 2011 in Washington, D.C.! Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-CA), a member of the Super Committee addressing the national debt, has been added as a speaker. Other confirmed speakers include: Grammy winning singer and social activist Judy Collins; U.S. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA); U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT); DNC Chair and Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL); Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius; AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka; AFL-CIO President Emeritus John Sweeney; AFSCME President Gerald McEntee; SEIU President Mary Kay Henry; AFT President Randi Weingarten; NEA President Dennis Van Roekel; and NAACP’s Washington Bureau Director and Senior Vice President for Advocacy and Policy Hilary Shelton. Questions? Please e-mail Event Coordinator Joni Jones at email@example.com or call 202-637-5377. To register, learn more or see more speakers, visit http://bit.ly/pjVbXy orhttp://bit.ly/hQro1V.