March 14, 2014

Stand up to the American Legislative Exchange Council and Protect Pensions

The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) is a corporate-funded, “pay-to-play” lobbying group that brings corporations and state legislators together to craft “model” legislation. The “model bills” they craft, regrettably, put corporate profits before the public interest. Stand up to ALEC – the coalition group that includes the Alliance for Retired Americans, the AFL-CIO, and other unions and allies, will focus on pensions during the week of March 17. ALEC’s goal is to wipe out public pension systems in favor of private 401(k) type plans. In a Wall Street-managed, individual 401(k) world, workers would lose their ability to save, invest and take action collectively. For a fact sheet on ALEC and retirement security, go to

“ALEC and its sister organization, the State Policy Network, are planning campaigns, lobbying activities, and lawsuits to challenge and degrade state and local public pension systems in numerous states,” said Barbara J. Easterling, President of the Alliance. “Arizona, Colorado, Illinois, Missouri, Minnesota, and Pennsylvania are targets at the least, and we cannot afford to stay out of this battle. We will reach out to expose these anti-democratic efforts step-by-step.”

Alliance Letter: House “Doc Fix” is the Wrong Solution
The Alliance sent a letter to all members of the U.S. House of Representatives yesterday regarding the “doc fix,” or “Sustainable Growth Rate” (SGR). The SGR is supposed to chop provider reimbursement if spending rises too fast, but such steep cuts in practice would harm patient care, and more doctors would refuse to treat seniors.  The letter from Alliance Executive Director Richard Fiesta opposed the passage of H.R. 4015, the SGR Repeal and Medicare Provider Payment Modernization Act, as the solution. The letter suggested other ways to solve the problem, including the Medicare Drug Discount Act ( However, the bill passed on Friday, 238-181. For a tally of the vote, go to

“While the February 2014 agreement reached by the House and Senate to fix the sustainable growth rate formula in Medicare’s physician reimbursement was bicameral and bipartisan, this legislation is not,” Mr. Fiesta wrote. “Under this egregious proposal, doctors would be paid on the backs of uninsured Americans. This is simply unacceptable….(i)t is disturbing to us that the authors of this proposal found money to provide an update for physicians, who on average make upwards of $200,000 per year, but not for low-income Medicare beneficiaries.” To read the full letter, go to

USA Today Piece Describes Retirees’ Biggest Financial Regrets
Financial advisers, asked about their retired clients’ biggest money regrets, offered several recommendations in USA Today this week. Among the regrets listed: retiring too early, not planning for worst-case scenarios, and underestimating future medical costs. Some also regret withdrawing early from an IRA or 401(k) and not moving to a new city or state to reduce taxes.

“I’m sure many people would love to have saved more for their retirement, but the money was just never there,” said Ruben Burks, Secretary-Treasurer of the Alliance.

Tash Elwyn, president of the Raymond James & Associates firm, says a key mistake people make is that they fail to make provisions for catastrophic events. “Whether it’s a major medical issue or a debilitating illness, those that find they are not only financing their own retirement, but an adult child who has returned after a job loss aren’t accounting for real life. Planning can’t just be for best-case scenarios, and far too often it is.” More at

Spanish Friday Alert now Available
The Friday Alert will now be available each week in Spanish! To see last week’s Alerta Semanal, go to For the Alliance’s Spanish language page, which includes fact sheets and other translated documents from the main site, go to More outreach from the Alliance to the Hispanic elder community will be coming in the next few months.

Oregon Alliance Holds State Convention, Hosts Former Governor Roberts
On March 8, the Oregon Alliance for Retired Americans held its annual convention, and it included the most attendees in years. Featured speaker Barbara Roberts, Oregon’s first woman governor, shared her life story. In observance of International Women’s Day, she encouraged women to record their successes. Progressive talk show host Carl Wolfson spoke about fighting income inequality. Resolutions were passed opposing ALEC legislative activities and supporting Postal Service banking. Board member Jim Davis reported success at the just-ended Oregon legislative session in securing funding for the placement of senior and disability mental health and addiction specialists in all 36 county mental health programs. Ron Rogers and Jane Netboywere elected as trustees.

Alliance’s National Convention is April 28 – May 1, 2014 at Bally’s Hotel Las Vegas
Join us in Las Vegas as we sharpen our organizing and communications skills for the 2014 elections and beyond! Confirmed speakers now include: Lee Saunders, President of AFSCME;Danny Thompson, Nevada AFL-CIO Executive Secretary-Treasurer and Nevada Alliance Vice President; Carolyn W. Colvin, Acting Commissioner of Social Security; Liz Shuler, Alliance Executive Vice President and Secretary-Treasurer of the AFL-CIO; Linda Chavez-Thompson, former Executive Vice-President of the AFL-CIO; J. David Cox, President of the American Federation of Government Employees; and several others.

Alliance members will elect a president and secretary-treasurer, and community members will elect six community-based board members and the executive vice-president for community affairs. Hotel reservations must be made by March 21, 2014. Click on visit the Alliance’s convention web page. Go to to register on-line. Questions? Contact Joni Jones at or 202-637-5377.

Any delegate registered to attend the National Membership Convention may offer or second a resolution for consideration. The resolution must pertain to a statement of the Alliance’s position or policy on a specific matter. Resolutions, and seconds, must be received by the Alliance no later than April 8, 2014. The Resolutions Committee, designated by the Alliance President, will review proposed resolutions. Send resolutions to

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