October 22, 2010

Protection Available for Those Who Experience Problems While Voting

Ten years have passed since the “hanging chad” problem in Florida, and since then a majority of states across the nation have overhauled their voting methods in hopes of simplifying the process and making it more accurate. One of the most pronounced changes has been the move away from lever and paper voting in favor of optical and electric voting methods.  However, limited funds for voting equipment and rapidly aging voting machines in some areas are an indication that the country is not immune from problems re-emerging. In addition, voter suppression occurred recently when a front group called “Latinos for Reform,” run by a major donor to former President George W. Bush, was caught running television ads in Nevada telling Hispanic voters NOT to vote on November 2nd as a way of protesting.  The ads are now off the air.

The following resources focus on election protection. They are produced by the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights, who have set up a national hotline for any voting problems: 1-866-Our-Vote. For information on fundamental voting rights and commonly asked questions, go tohttp://www.866ourvote.org/elections-101. For pages with state-specific laws and pdf’s with more detailed information on your state’s election laws, click on http://www.866ourvote.org/state. In addition, for information on the voting rights of the disabled from the National Disability Rights Network, go to http://bit.ly/bokzr8. “Voters can go the polls with peace of mind, knowing that the system has improved,” said Barbara J. Easterling, President of the Alliance. “However, if you do experience a problem, help is available. Don’t go home without casting your ballot.”

George W. Bush Regrets not being Able to “Reform” Social Security

On Thursday, George W. Bush said that his greatest failure in office was not passing Social Security reform. Bush made the remarks while speaking in Chicago at a conference for a finance trade association.  He had sought to push through legislation after he won re-election in 2004 that would have privatized Social Security.  “The former President’s comments unfortunately prove once again that Republicans would privatize Social Security if given another chance to do so,” said Edward F. Coyle, Executive Director of the Alliance.

SSA Report Reveals True Cost of Rep. Paul Ryan’s Plan for Social Security Reform

Rep. Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) plan to rein in the cost of Social Security would dramatically reduce retirement benefits for middle- and upper-income Americans, especially those now younger than 25, according to an analysis released on Wednesday by Stephen Goss, chief actuary of the Social Security Administration (SSA). The Washington Post wrote that Rep. Ryan’s plan – available at http://wapo.st/9gjpua – would reduce benefits by raising the retirement age above 67 and trimming benefits for the top 70% of earners. Together, the two provisions would slice initial benefits by about a quarter for middle-income Americans who turn 65 in 2050, according to the analysis. A worker born in 1985 whose earnings averaged $43,000 would receive 17% less at retirement than current law promises, as a result of Rep. Ryan’s proposal to change the inflation index. His proposed increase in the retirement age would reduce benefits by another 8%. SSA’s report shows that overall, the changes would reduce benefits by between 10 and 50%.

Rep. Earl Pomeroy (D-ND), the chair of the Social Security subcommittee on House Ways and Means, had urged SSA to analyze Ryan’s recommended changes. Pomeroy called out House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) for supporting the changes. Boehner has said that he would support raising the retirement age to 70.

The report also examines other ideas for overhauling the program, including several under discussion by the deficit-reduction Fiscal Commission appointed by President Obama. Go tohttp://bit.ly/b9YAyS for an Alliance summary of the last meeting held by the Commission.

Economic Policy Institute Argues for $250 Payment to Retirees

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) on Monday said that they would work to introduce a bill granting a one-time $250 supplemental payment to Social Security recipients, who will receive no cost of living increase in 2011 for the second year in a row. Speaker Pelosi promised a vote on the bill during the lame duck session after the elections. The bill, H.R. 5987, was introduced by Rep. Pomeroy and has 127 co-sponsors. It would help provide additional income to millions of seniors who live on fixed incomes and often face rising Medicare costs. The $250 would provide assistance for seniors struggling to pay for basic necessities, and would also serve as a valuable economic stimulus. Research by the Economic Policy Institute (http://www.epi.org/publications/entry/bp269) has shown that one of the most effective components of the 2009 Recovery Act was the $250 lump-sum payments that went to recipients of Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits. Because these payments were quickly spent, they stimulated local economies and likely boosted GDP by roughly 0.5% in the second quarter of 2009. That translates to about 125,000 jobs created or saved due to these payments.  “If Congress votes to give seniors checks for $250, the whole economy will benefit,” said Mr. Coyle, who was in Cincinnati, Ohio on Monday for a meeting with Alliance members to discuss Medicare and Social Security.

Pennsylvania Convention Includes Election of Officers

The Pennsylvania Alliance convention took place last week in Grantville, PA. It included several presentations by Alliance staff and the election of the following officers: Jean Friday of Belle Vernon, PA, President; Bill George of Mechanicsburg, Executive Vice President; Wayne Burtonof West Chester, Secretary; and Mike Doyle of Upper Black Eddy, Treasurer.

Intergenerational Event at the University of Colorado – Boulder

Members of the Alliance are in Boulder, Colorado today for an intergenerational rally at the University of Colorado at Boulder with students about the importance of Social Security for future generations.  “The Alliance is calling attention to myths and lies surrounding Social Security, and pointing out what’s at stake for Social Security in the November elections,” said Ruben Burks, Secretary-Treasurer of the Alliance.

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