October 28, 2011
Proposed Super Committee Cuts Poised to Weaken State and Local Economies
As the “Super Committee” met on Wednesday, Alliance members and other local advocates from the Strengthen Social Security Campaign – a coalition which includes the Alliance – sprung into action. In states represented by the 12-member Committee, the activists released new reports detailing the projected fall-out resulting from the committee’s proposed cuts to Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. Information on the new reports was discussed at press conferences throughout the nation and in Washington, D.C., where the Super Committee met publicly for the first time in a month. Activists showed that the secret Super Committee could make cuts to over $621 Billion in Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid benefits in their states. In the eleven Super Committee states represented, 20.3 million Americans receive Social Security, 18.5 million Americans receive Medicare, and 21.4 million Americans receive Medicaid. Go tohttp://bit.ly/o7LNqS to view the reports. At a press conference in front of Rep. Jeb Hensarling’soffice in Dallas on Thursday, the Texas Alliance unveiled a report, issued jointly with the Strengthen Social Security campaign, detailing the number of Texas Congressional District 5 residents who rely on Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, as well as information on the economic impact and jobs the programs support in Texas. The report was then delivered to the office of Hensarling, who is co-chair of the Super Committee. Alliance members shared their personal stories with the press at similar events this week in Phoenix, Tucson and Scottsdale, Arizona; Columbus, Ohio; and York, Pennsylvania. In California, Maryland, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and South Carolina, Alliance members also shared their personal stories on tele-conference calls with reporters.
Conyers Resolution Gains Attention as More Super Committee Plans Emerge
On Monday, the Strengthen Social Security Campaign sent a letter to House Members urging them to co-sponsor a resolution introduced by Rep. John Conyers (D-MI). The resolution expresses the sense of Congress that the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction should not propose any cuts in benefits to Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid. With respect to Social Security, “no benefit cuts” includes no increase in Social Security’s retirement age and no reduction in its cost-of-living adjustments (COLAs) by adopting the “Chained CPI” (Consumer Price Index). The letter is at http://bit.ly/sPMFzD. To see how the Chained CPI would harm seniors, go to http://bit.ly/skmv0w.
The effort may be coming just in time. According to The Washington Post, Democrats on the joint deficit reduction committee on Tuesday discussed “a plan that would pare the deficit by almost $3 trillion over 10 years through a roughly even mix of spending cuts and revenue increases.” The proposal, presented to the Super Committee by Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT) linked additional discretionary appropriations cuts – including some from defense – with about $500 billion in savings from Medicare and Medicaid combined, according to aides familiar with the committee’s deliberations. The package includes cutting Medicare benefits for recipients and changing the Social Security COLA formula to the Chained CPI formula, which will reduce the COLA for beneficiaries immediately. Republicans had a counterproposal that also included the Chained CPI.
Medicare 2012 Part B Premium and Deductible Announced
On Thursday, HHS and CMS officials announced the 2012 Medicare Part B premium and deductible. Both went down from the 2011 levels. To read the HHS news release – which states that the standard Part B monthly premium for 2012 will be $99.90, only a $3.50 monthly increase for beneficiaries who had been paying $96.40 for the last two years – go tohttp://1.usa.gov/vDuvdF. The Part B annual deductible in 2012 will be $140, a decrease of $22. “The lower numbers are the result of the improvements made by the Affordable Care Act, and I hope Alliance members will remind their friends of that fact,” said Barbara J. Easterling, President of the Alliance.
Rick Perry Reveals More of His Plans; Mitt Romney Officially Files for First Primary
Texas governor and Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry has released an economic plan full of long-held conservative goals, including personal accounts for Social Security, an optional flat tax, and major spending cuts. Fellow Republican presidential candidate and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney has proposed raising the retirement age to reform Social Security. On Monday, current and future Social Security beneficiaries from the New Hampshire Alliance and NH Citizens Alliance called on Romney to tell the truth about his plans for Social Security when he visited the State House to file for the state Presidential Primary.
Alliance Members Stand with AFGE Employees
Thousands of American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) Social Security employees are protesting recent proposals from Congress that would cut the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) operational budget. Alliance members supported AFGE employees at dozens of events across the country on Thursday. This year, SSA is losing 3,500 federal and state employees who operate local offices, process new claims and conduct disability reviews. SSA has also indefinitely suspended mailing Social Security statements. “Seniors and the disabled rely on AFGE workers to ensure that their Social Security benefits are administered properly,” said Ruben Burks, Secretary-Treasurer of the Alliance. “These particular cuts are penny-wise and pound-foolish, because they will cause turmoil where there is now efficiency.”
Alliance Leaders outside the Beltway
Edward F. Coyle, Executive Director of the Alliance, spoke at the Machinists Union Metro Seniors Council meeting in Upper Marlboro, Maryland on Monday. Ms. Easterling spoke at a planning meeting for the Virginia Alliance in Richmond on Wednesday.
Alliance Activity in New England: New Hampshire, Connecticut, and Vermont
At the New Hampshire Alliance’s convention this week, Louis Remi Gendron, board member of the NH Alliance, was presented with the Thomas C. Deary Award. The senior advocacy award is presented biennially to a volunteer for “fighting the good fight” for seniors. The Connecticut Alliance held their annual fundraising luncheon, which was supported by the state AFL-CIO and a long list of affiliated unions, on Monday. The event was also a call to action on Super Committee work. More than 100 people attended. The Vermont Alliance’s convention takes place tomorrow.