November 10, 2011
Ohio Voters Reject the Politics of Scapegoating
On Tuesday, voters in Ohio delivered a blow to Gov. John Kasich (R) and rejected his attempt to strip collective bargaining rights from public employees. A whopping 61% of the Ohio electorate voted to repeal SB-5 by saying “no” on Issue 2, as it was presented on the ballot. SB-5 would have taken away the rights that give teachers a voice in the classroom, home health care workers a living wage, and firefighters and police officers a say in staffing and response times for emergencies. Public service employees can now continue to use collective bargaining to sit down on a level playing field with management to discuss issues of customer service, safety, and staffing. The public services provided by state and local public employees are a lifeline to seniors across the state who want to live healthy, independent lives and remain in their own homes and communities as long as possible. According to Hart Research Associates, Ohio’s union members overwhelmingly rejected Issue Two, 86%-14%. But non-union members also voted “no” on Issue Two, 52% to 48%. Voters over 60 voted “No,” 58%-42%.
Following the vote, David Friesner, President of the Ohio Alliance, said, “The Ohio Alliance for Retired Americans is pleased Ohio voters chose to reject the politics of jealousy, belittlement, and scapegoating.” He added, “As union retirees, we know firsthand how collective bargaining helps earn the wages and benefits that support families and build strong, stable communities. Collective bargaining directly affects retirement – the better you work, the better you retire.”
“I am deeply troubled at how Issue 2 maligned those who make our communities better, safer places,” added Barbara J. Easterling, President of the Alliance.
Super Committee Tries to Make November 23 Deadline
According to The New York Times [ http://nyti.ms/tvOoRO ], members of the “Super Committee,” Congressional panel on deficit reduction “are no longer trying just to solve the nation’s fiscal problems. Some are desperately trying to avoid blame for the possible collapse” of the process. Republicans, long opposed to tax increases, said on Tuesday that they might allow $250 billion to $300 billion of additional tax revenue as part of a deal to shave $1.2 trillion from federal deficits over the next 10 years. Democrats were quick to dismiss the offer because, they said, it came with a proposal that would permanently reduce individual income tax rates, including those for the most affluent Americans. Members of both parties said Tuesday that they saw a glimmer of hope that the panel could strike a deal and vote on its recommendations by the statutory deadline of Nov. 23. Democrats said they worried that the ideas floated by Republicans might be largely a public relations gesture.
The latest Republican proposal calls for a gradual increase in the age of eligibility for Medicare, to 67 from 65, and the use of an alternative measure of inflation, the Chained CPI, that would reduce annual cost-of-living adjustments in Social Security benefits. Some of the new revenue under the Republican proposal would come from limiting tax breaks that primarily benefit upper-income households. Some would come from other sources like higher Medicare premiums for high-income people and sales of federal lands. “This plan would provide the very wealthiest Americans with one of the largest tax rate cuts ever,” a Democratic aide said.
The Alliance is calling members who are represented by Super Committee members, Sens. John Kerry (D-MA), Patty Murray (D-WA), and Pat Toomey (R-PA) as well as Reps. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) and James Clyburn (D-SC), with the opportunity to pass a call through directly to the proper elected official’s office. “If you get a call, please follow the instructions and send a message to our elected officials not to balance the budget on the backs of seniors,” said Ruben Burks, Secretary-Treasurer of the Alliance.
Illinois Alliance Works with Sen. Durbin, Rep. Schakowsky, and Others
On Monday in Chicago, Illinois Alliance members joined the “Occupy Chicago” demonstration to speak out against cuts to Medicare and Social Security. The protest – attended by Sen. Dick Durbin and Reps. Jan Schakowsky, Danny Davis, Mike Quigley, all Democrats from Illinois – received waves of media coverage [http://bit.ly/sxz8Cu].
The next day, the Illinois Alliance joined Rep. Schakowsky and the group Latinos for a Secure Retirement in releasing a new report, The High Cost to Illinois of Raising the Medicare Age[http://bit.ly/sstB7k], on a conference call with reporters. The report details the catastrophic effects of increasing the Medicare eligibility age to 67. Such a change would increase overall health care costs and shift these increased expenses to individuals, employers and state governments, costing Illinois around $524 million per year. By contrast, creating a Medicare offered Part D prescription drug benefit with negotiated prices could reduce federal government expenses by $20 billion a year while also reducing out-of-pocket costs for seniors. The Medicare Prescription Drug Savings and Choice Act of 2011, introduced by Sen. Durbin and Rep. Schakowsky, would do just that. Barbara Franklin, President of the Illinois Alliance, said, “When I hear politicians saying ‘Let’s cut Medicare’ or ‘Let’s give seniors vouchers for health care instead of Medicare,’ I think they should walk in our shoes for a day and try surviving on that same amount.”
Florida Alliance President Tony Fransetta is doing a similar call today with Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL). A copy of the Florida report is available at http://bit.ly/sMg6yC.
New Mexico Alliance Works to Save Seniors from Medicaid Cuts
On Wednesday night, the New Mexico Alliance joined with the groups Albuquerque Healthcare for the Homeless, Raging Grannies, and others to ask Governor Susana Martinez (R) not to cut Medicaid benefits – or raise co-payments or premiums – as she plans Medicaid’s re-design statewide. To see more, including AFT retiree Tena Prescott, who has been active in planning the event, as well as pictures of the delivery of 500 photo invitations to Gov. Martinez to this meeting, go to http://bit.ly/uDXF2U and http://bit.ly/rX8USt.
New on the Alliance Web Site
November is Alzheimer’s Awareness Month, Diabetes Awareness Month, Family Caregivers Month and Hospice Month. Check out http://bit.ly/vALaql for key links and more information!