November 22, 2013

Richard Fiesta is Named Alliance’s Next Executive Director

Richard Fiesta has been named the Alliance for Retired Americans’ new executive director, succeeding Edward F. Coyle, who has managed and grown the 4 million-member grassroots advocacy organization since its 2001 founding. The Alliance’s Executive Board voted unanimously to appoint Fiesta, effective December 1. The director of the Department of Government and Political Affairs for the Alliance since 2001, Fiesta pledged that the Alliance will aggressively educate retirees, the public and lawmakers on ways to preserve and strengthen Social Security and Medicare, make prescription drugs affordable for future generations and ensure that all retirees can expect a dignified retirement after a lifetime of work.

“It is gratifying to see Ed enjoy his own retirement after improving the retirement circumstances of so many others,” said Barbara J. Easterling, president of the Alliance.  “I know that Rich will continue the Alliance for Retired Americans’ tradition of standing up for seniors.”

“I would not retire if I didn’t believe that the Alliance is in good hands,” said Coyle. “Rich Fiesta has made a career of fighting for social and economic justice for retirees and the middle class.”

“I am honored to become the Alliance Executive Director, given our proven track record of advocacy and action,” said Fiesta. “Older Americans face many challenges. I look forward to building on our work to guarantee that the needs of retirees remain at the forefront of the nation’s agenda.” To read the full Alliance press release, including comments by AFL-CIO PresidentRichard Trumka and Alliance Secretary-Treasurer Ruben Burks, as well as a summary of Fiesta’s background, go to

Seniors Remember JFK on 50th Anniversary of his Assassination
Today is the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. Many seniors remember him for his charisma as well as his leadership through some of the nation’s most dramatic moments, including the Cuban Missile Crisis and the battle for civil rights. Almost everyone remembers where they were when tragedy struck on November 22, 1963.What many may not remember is that the idea for Medicare originated with the 1960 Kennedy campaign for President!

Sen. Elizabeth Warren Makes the Case for Expanding Social Security
On Monday, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) threw her support behind expanding Social Security benefits, joining Sens. Tom Harkin (D-IA), Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Sherrod Brown (D-OH) in a growing push to calculate benefits through an index called CPI-E, which will increase payments to meet the needs of recipients. She was referring to S.567, the Strengthening Social Security Act. Rep. Linda Sanchez (D-CA) introduced the House version, HR 3118.

During Sen. Warren’s remarks on Monday, she noted that The Washington Post had run an editorial that day mocking the idea of a looming retirement crisis. “To make sure no one missed the point, they even put the words ‘retirement crisis’ in quotation marks,” she said. On Wednesday, Sen. Warren told MSNBC listeners that increased benefits would help a middle class that has been “hammered for a generation.”

Update on Budget Negotiations: Talks Center on Sequestration
The federal budget deal that was reached in October created a budget conference to iron out the differences between the House and Senate budget resolutions. Because Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security would most likely come into play in a “grand bargain” scenario – which, to many, seems elusive at the moment – a main focus in the negotiations right now is on replacing sequestration cuts. According to the Center for American Progress, there are four factors making next year’s sequestration cuts even more damaging than this year’s. First, the sequester makes larger cuts in 2014 than it did in 2013. Second, many of the cuts that were legally made this year have not actually been implemented yet. More at

“Last month, Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and Democrats were united.  They did not give up anything,” said Mr. Burks. “We need to keep the pressure on lawmakers not to cut seniors’ earned benefits, so that dynamic does not change,” he continued. Pledge now to make a call on December 12th to tell your elected leaders to end the sequester, close tax loopholes, and raise the revenues needed for vital services. Click on the Alliance’s pledge, created with several coalition partners including AFSCME and Social Security Works, at

Social Security Administration Releases Facts and Figures for 2014
The Social Security Administration recently released its Old Age, Survivors and Disability Insurance Program (OASDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) rates and limits for 2014, available at One statistic the site shows is that Americans will pay Social Security taxes on only the first $117,000 they earn next year. “Old Age, Survivors and Disability Insurance Program” is the official name for Social Security. Supplemental Security Income is a Federal income supplement program funded by general tax revenues (not Social Security taxes). It is designed to help aged, blind, and disabled people, who have little or no income, and it provides cash to meet basic needs for food, clothing, and shelter.

130 House Members Send Letter to Obama Regarding Trans-Pacific Partnership
The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) — a trade agreement that the United States and 11 other Pacific-rim countries are negotiating — could raise the cost of prescription drugs and increase health care spending by governments and private payers. TPP negotiations are largely secret.  Although the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) consults with representatives of the drug and medical device industries, it does not do so with health care experts or the public.  Recently, a group of more than 130 House members urged USTR to adopt a more open negotiating process. Despite the secrecy, some negotiating texts have become public — and the newly leaked intellectual property chapter prompted sharp disagreements over access to generic medicines. To read the House members’ letter to President Obama, go to

AFL-CIO Showcases New Video Link, “Stronger Together”
Check out the AFL-CIO’s newest video hit on collective action. The video is part of a new “Stronger Together” web page at

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