A coalition of organizations dedicated to protecting programs which serve middle class Americans joined Senators Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI)and Bernie Sanders (I-VT) in a news conference today declaring White House plans tothrust Social Securityinto the Deficit Debate will not fly.Here is a quick summary of press converage of today’s call:
Liberal senators warn Obama over Social Security cuts in any debt deal ? THE HILL. Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) warned Friday that President Obama faces turmoil in the Senate and in his reelection campaign if he includes Social Security cuts in any debt-ceiling deal.Bernie Sanders: If White House Thinks Senate Will Pass Social Security Cuts, Think Again– Crooks and Liars. Just got off a conference call with the Strengthen Social Security coalition, featuring Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI). Also taking part: Charles Loveless, Director of Legislation, AFSCME; Ed Coyle, Executive Director, Alliance for Retired Americans; Terry O?Neill, President, National Organization for Women, Max Richtman, National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Sarah Lane of MoveOn.org. Bernie was his usual feisty self.”The American people are very clear. They understand that for the last 75 years, Social Security has paid out every nickel it was supposed to,” he said. “It is incongruous that in a conversation about the $14.5 trillion deficit to be talking about Social Security, which has nothing to do with it.”Democrats incensed with White House over Social Security, Medicare- Washington Post. Long-simmering tensions between the White House and congressional Democrats on how best to address the country?s debt boiled over on Friday, with leaders and rank-and-file members alike fuming at reports that President Obama is mulling cuts to Social Security and Medicare as part of a bipartisan debt-limit deal.Bernie Sanders: Senators Have Told Me If Obama Sends A ?Piece Of Crap? Debt Deal To Us, We?ll Defeat It- Think Progress. The Washington Post set off a political firestorm earlier this week when it reported that President Obama will reportedly be seeking changes to Social Security as part of a wider debt ceiling deal with Congress.
Sacrificing Social Security Benefits for Millions of Americans isn?t Fiscal Responsibility
?While President Obama has acknowledged that Social Security is not the cause of the federal deficit, news reports today claim the White House has now proposed Social Security cuts which would impact millions of middle class Americans for generations. Social Security should not be used as a bargaining chip. Proposing cuts which touch virtually every American family in exchange for closing tax loopholes and ending tax cuts for the wealthy few is not ?shared sacrifice?. Social Security is a self-financed program paid for by Americans throughout their working lives. It has kept millions from poverty for more than 75 years and has absolutely nothing to do with the federal deficit. President Obama has promised Social Security benefits for current retirees would not be at risk and that he would not ?slash? benefits for future generations. However, that?s exactly what will happen if the COLA formula is changed as has been reported. The chained CPI is nothing more than a backdoor benefit cut Washington hopes Americans won?t notice or understand. Having weathered two years of no COLAs, Washington now wants to tell seniors that ?nothing? is too much.?
NCPSSM Executive VP/Acting CEO, Max Richtman, spent this morning in the CSPAN studios talking about everything from Social Security and Medicare to deficit reduction talks. He also took some interesting calls from viewers. If you missed it this morning, here’s the video of today’s segment.
Each July we celebrate Medicare?s passage in 1965 and its undeniable success in keeping millions of American seniors from poverty each year. Unfortunately, far too many others in Washington will continue to spend this Medicare milestone month searching for ways to dismantle the program in the name of ?deficit reduction?. Washington?s fiscal hawks continue to see this economic crisis as the perfect opportunity to attack programs they have never supported in the first place. Remember Paul Ryan?s ?This is not a budget. It?s a cause? clarion call?There has been a lot written recently about the ongoing Washington budget talks and the campaign to slash Medicare benefits, while also preserving tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy. In celebration of the Medicare success story, we?ll highlight some of our must-read recommendations for those of you who share our view that Medicare should not be sacrificed at the altar of Washington?s debt reduction idols. We simply can?t continue to ignore Medicare?s role in the fiscal and physical health of middle class Americans and these articles help illustrate why:
Medicine has changed, but the need for Medicare has not. Senate floor statement by Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.)
?Today, virtually every American over 65 has access to health care. And the number of seniors that live below the poverty line has dropped by 75 percent. That?s no accident. Medicare provides 47 million Americans with the access to care and the protection from poverty that Truman envisioned more than 65 years ago.And Medicare and Medicaid don?t only protect seniors from poverty ? they also protect those seniors? children. Forty-six years ago, middle-class families often spent themselves into the poor house honoring their commitment to their fathers and mothers. Today seniors and their children have the security that Medicare and Medicaid will be there to honor that commitment ? providing health care and nursing home care when they need it.?
Big Medicare cuts to reduce deficit unpopular. Reuters coverage of new Kaiser Foundation Poll.
?Few Americans would support major cuts to Medicare to reduce the federal deficit, but many would be okay with minor savings in the popular healthcare program, a survey released on Thursday said. The latest tracking survey on healthcare issues by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that the public is more willing to accept Medicare spending cuts if done to shore up the elderly healthcare program rather than for deficit reduction or avoiding tax increases. The survey’s findings are important because the future of Medicare is at the heart of high level discussions over the $1.4 trillion annual deficit and $14.3 trillion U.S. debt.?
Medicare Proposal Could Stress Strapped Seniors. NPR coverage of Coburn/Lieberman Medicare legislation.
?Half of seniors had income lower than $22,000 in 2010; 25 percent had income lower than $13,000. Only five percent had incomes above $85,000. And while 91 percent of today’s Medicare beneficiaries have savings, in most cases those nest eggs aren’t nearly enough to pay substantial medical bills. Half of seniors have savings less than $50,000; a quarter have less than $8,400 money set aside. Ten percent had more than half a million dollars, half of those people had a million dollars or more. Yet even with today’s Medicare coverage, health spending accounted for an average of nearly 15 percent of the average Medicare household’s budget in 2009, according to another Kaiser study. That’s three times the health care spending for those not on Medicare.?
Here is something fun we urge you to share with your friends via email, Facebook, Twitter, or whatever your favorite form of online communication. Download the Picture or just forward the link to help spread the word that gutting Medicare is not a ?cause? you or the vast majority of Americans support.
Coburn/Lieberman Medicare Plan: Make Seniors Wait Even Longer for Coverage and Then Charge Them More
The ongoing quest to balance the budget on the backs of America?s seniors continues with the latest Medicare plan offered by Senator Joe Lieberman and Senator Tom Coburn (who left the Gang of 6 negotiations because that bipartisan group wouldn?t slash seniors? programs enough).Rather than reigning in the skyrocketing costs of healthcare system wide (not just in Medicare), increasing efficiencies or even rooting out inefficiencies this plan puts the burden of a nationwide healthcare crisis directly on America?s seniors:?Most of the plan’s savings would come from some form of benefit reductions or cost-shifting to seniors ? a stark contrast to the Medicare cuts believed to be on the table in talks over the debt ceiling. Negotiators there are looking at cuts to healthcare industries after Democrats drew a line in the sand over benefit cuts.But Lieberman and Coburn’s proposal includes several politically risky benefit changes, such as making seniors pay more for their prescription drugs. It also would raise the eligibility age for Medicare. The proposal would cap seniors’ out-of-pocket costs depending on their income. The maximum would be set at $7,500 for people making less than $85,000 per year. Seniors with twice as much income would pay three times more in out-of-pocket Medicare costs.Seniors also would pay more for their prescription drugs. Premiums only cover about 11 percent of the total costs for Medicare Part D, the senators said. They would require seniors to pay the full cost of their drug coverage. They said the change would free up between $5 billion and $10 billion in tax money.The plan also would increase premiums for Medicare Part B, which covers drugs that are administered by a doctor. Part B premiums are more than $400 per year, and taxes currently cover only about a quarter of that cost. High-income seniors would have to pay the full cost of their Part B premiums under the Lieberman plan.? The HillNot so surprisingly, this proposal is all pain for seniors with absolutely no attempt to raise revenues.?Lieberman gave up an income tax hike that he previously said would be part of his proposal. ?The sooner you take the strong medicine, the sooner you will get healthy again,? [he] said.?In other words, America?s seniors must continue to take Washington?s version of ?strong medicine? so the nation?s largest corporations and wealthiest citizens can continue to stay healthy.