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GOP Budget Plan Released Today–Seniors Say Three Strikes – You’re OUT

Today’s release of the GOP/Ryan budget reminds us of the famous line, “the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”  Today marks the third time House Republicans have released the Ryan budget, which in Rep. Paul Ryan’s Orwellian terms he’s also named a “Path to Prosperity.” Thankfully the result again this year will likely be the same.  Dead on arrival. We say thankfully because, once again, this budget pretends deficit reduction alone is economic recovery, while ignoring the financial realities millions of America’s middle-class families still face in this slow economy.  This plan also targets seniors in Medicaid with cuts, a “coupon care” plan for Medicare which would ultimately end traditional Medicare, and a fast-track plan to cut Social Security benefits:   

“Once again, House Republicans have re-introduced the same flawed budget approach middle-class Americans have rejected in poll after poll and most importantly at the ballot box. Rather than deal with the true challenges facing this nation including, slow economic growth, high unemployment, and unprecedented income inequality, the GOP/Ryan budget targets middle-class seniors and their families with massive cuts to pay for tax cuts benefiting huge corporations and the wealthiest among us.  Americans want a balanced approach to the national budget.  This cuts-only plan isn’t it.   

The Ryan plan would create vouchers in Medicare leaving seniors and the disabled – some of our most vulnerable Americans – hostage to the whims of private insurance companies.  Over time, this will end traditional Medicare and make it harder for seniors to choose their own doctor.  Vouchers are designed not to keep up with the increasing cost of health insurance… that is why they save money.  If the GOP/Ryan budget becomes law, seniors would immediately lose billions in prescription drug savings, free wellness visits and preventative services provided in the ACA, and the Part D donut hole returns.

Destroying traditional Medicare and leaving millions of Americans without adequate health coverage is not a path to prosperity for anyone except for-profit insurers. The American people understand that.”  Max Richtman, NCPSSM President/CEO

Senate Democrats have also prepared their budget plan which will be released tomorrow. According to Huffington Post, the Democratic Budget plan: 

“... calls for $975 billion in additional revenues through closing loopholes and ending tax expenditures. The budget, unlike Ryan's, doesn't close the door on going beyond the fiscal cliff deal either; it calls for the continuation of current tax rates for middle and lower class Americans but does not specify whether current rates should be protected for high-end earners.

“While House Republicans are doubling down on the extreme budget that the American people already rejected, Senate Democrats are going to be working on a responsible budget that puts jobs and the economy first and reflects the values and priorities of middle class families across the country,” read a statement from Murray.

A top Senate Democratic aide said that the specifics -- including where rates should be set, which loopholes should be closed, and which expenditures should be ended -- would be left to the Senate Finance Committee. The Murray budget does give the Finance Committee some help, though, offering parliamentary instructions (known as reconciliation) to help ensure the tax reform bill it produces will be granted an up-or-down vote.

While the $975 billion figure is ambitious, the Senate aide pointed to a report by the Center for American Progress that showed $1 trillion in savings could be gained through "reducing or reforming tax breaks."

On the spending side, Murray's budget looks for $493 billion in domestic cuts, $275 billion of which will come from health care savings. The aide said that those health care savings, which will also be determined by the Finance Committee, would be felt solely on the provider side and not among beneficiaries. Additionally, the budget calls for $240 billion in defense spending cuts and $242 billion in reduced interest payments.

Those savings in total will replace the sequestration-related cuts that went into effect on March 1. Over a ten-year window, they will reduce the deficit by $1.95 trillion. But since Murray's budget also sets aside $100 billion for economic stimulus measures -- $50 billion on repairing highest transportation priorities, $10 billion on projects of major regional importance and the rest on other items like worker training -- the total savings will be measured at $1.85 trillion.”

These budgets clearly lay out starkly different priority choices.  Especially for middle-class families and retirees who understand first hand the value of programs like Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, and who want those programs preserved for future generations.  

 

 

 

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National Call In Day - Tell Congress No Cuts to Middle-Class Benefits

One Minute, One Call to Save Social Security, Medicare & Medicaid

The National Committee is joining advocates across the nation in a Congressional Call-In day on Wednesday, December 5th.  Our goal is to flood Congress with calls reminding them that Americans of all ages and political parties do not support cutting middle-class benefits to pay for deficit reduction.  Let’s shutdown the Capitol switchboard with thousands of calls delivering one simple message!

    NO CUTS to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid

The threat to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid during this Lame Duck Congress is as serious as any time in these programs’ long and successful histories.  Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid do not belong in this deficit debate and we must urge Congress to take these programs off the table. 

Making your call couldn’t be easier.  Just dial NCPSSM’s Legislative Hotline and you’ll be directed to your Congressional leaders from one toll-free number:

NCPSSM CONGRESSIONAL CALL IN DAY

(800) 998-0180

Send our flyer to 5 of your friends and tell them One Minute, One Call can make the difference in the fight to preserve America’s vital retirement and health security programs. 

 

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Breaking Down Plans to Cut Medicare & Social Security

As we've reported here many, many times conservatives in Congress continue to demand cuts to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid to reduce the deficit.  There are a myriad of bad ideas that they've proposed to do this. 

Here are some (hopefully) easy to understand infographics on some of the proposals currently being debated in closed-door Congressional deficit talks. You'll note that many are based on the Bowles-Simpson (BS) report, which is the bible for corporate CEO's and the well-funded fiscal hawk lobby. You can also find all of these on the National Committee's Lame Duck website. 

We're also asking you to sign the online version of our "No Cuts" petition here.  We will have more than 65,000 petitions to deliver to the Senate soon...please add your voice to the debate.

 

 

 

 

 


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Our Presidential Debate Scorecard Shows Viewers Were the Real Losers

Max Richtman, NCPSSM President/CEO.  Originally appeared on Huffington Post.

Presidential debates have long been more about style than substance but this week’s debate has taken us into new territory.  Once the event ended and each answer had been parsed and re-parsed by the media and our national punditry class, it’s clear that American voters have been left with the largest collection of misrepresentations, half-truths and political fairy tales in Presidential debate history.  This is especially true when you consider the comments and promises made about Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security.  From President Obama’s still inscrutable comment about Social Security to Mitt Romney’s demonstrably false claims about Medicare, it’s no wonder America’s seniors and their families are left scratching their heads.

49 million Americans depend on Medicare, more than 60 million on Medicaid and 55 million on Social Security. These programs touch the lives of virtually every American family in every community in our nation and are now at the center of a campaign to cut benefits as part of a so-called deficit “grand bargain”.  Surely, Americans deserve the full truth about what our Presidential candidates plan for these programs’ futures rather than headlines like these: “Romney Wins on Style, Obama Wins on Facts”,  “Mostly Fiction”, “Romney Told 27 Myths in 38 Minutes”, “Romney Goes on Offense, Pays For It in First Wave of Fact-Checks”  and “Obama's Social Security Answer Leaves Democrats Utterly Baffled”.

Here are worst of the myths presented in this first Presidential debate:

Health care reform cuts $716 billion from Medicare.  

This is poll-tested rhetoric seen in campaigns nationwide designed to trick seniors into believing their benefits have been cut.  Truth is, not one penny of Medicare benefits was cut in the Affordable Care Act.  In fact, that money is being used to improve health care and save money for Medicare beneficiaries.  These benefits include preventive screenings and services, annual wellness visits and personalized prevention plans with no out-of-pocket costs, as well as discounts on prescription drugs in the Part D coverage gap known as the "donut hole" which will be closed by 2020. Medicare’s solvency has been extended by eight years and in 2012, for the first time ever, the Part B deductible decreased from $162 to $140 per year.

Romney also did not mention that the GOP/Ryan budget he supports also includes these Medicare cuts yet this GOP plan does not reinvest one penny back into the program.  Instead, they use that money to pay for tax cuts for millionaires and deficit reduction

Don’t Worry Seniors, My Plan Won’t Impact You.

Not only does this cynical pandering to seniors not work—older Americans know their children and grandchildren will need these programs too-- it’s also wrong.  Governor Romney promised to repeal “Obamacare” on day one.  That means on the first day of his administration seniors would lose free preventive benefits and annual wellness exams, prescription drug and premium costs will increase by hundreds of dollars per year, the Part D donut hole returns, private insurance companies get their taxpayer handouts back, and Medicare would be bankrupt by the end of a Romney first term.

Seniors would also see increased long-term care costs, including increased costs for nursing home care, because of cuts to Medicaid. The Romney/Ryan proposed Medicaid cuts mean a loss of over $2,500 annually for seniors who are dually eligible for Medicare and Medicaid.

The Romney/Ryan “CouponCare” plan won’t end traditional Medicare because people can choose Medicare as an option.

Nonsense. Chairman Ryan's plan sets up a scenario that will put Medicare into a death spiral. This plan calls for private plans to provide benefits that are at least “actuarially equivalent” to the benefit package provided by fee-for-service Medicare, which gives private insurance companies the ability to manipulate their plans to attract the youngest and healthiest seniors.  This would leave traditional Medicare with older and sicker beneficiaries whose higher health costs could lead to higher premiums that people would be unable or unwilling to pay, resulting in a death spiral for traditional Medicare.  As the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities’ (CBPP) reports, “over time, traditional Medicare would become less financially viable and could unravel — not because it was less efficient than the private plans, but because it was competing on an unlevel playing field in which private plans captured the healthier beneficiaries and incurred lower costs as a result.”

Paul Ryan and Mitt Romney understand that it’s politically impossible to pass legislation ending traditional Medicare.  However, their “CouponCare” plan is a means to that end by putting traditional Medicare into a fiscally untenable position. Seniors will end up going back in time, to the days before Medicare, where they will once again be at the mercy of private insurance companies.  It also makes it harder for seniors to choose their own doctor.  Giving them a voucher that loses value over time means older Americans will pay more for less while private insurance companies reap the gains.

This election will likely determine the future of America’s most successful anti-poverty and retirement security programs.  Few American families will remain untouched by the decisions the next President and Congress will soon make.   It’s really not too much to ask that our candidates ditch the political propaganda and mistruths and start giving it to us straight. The Vice Presidential debate on October 11th is a good place to start.


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Message Delivered - Don't Cut Social Security & Medicare

About 100 senior activists will return to their hometowns from Washington DC tomorrow energized and committed to ensure our political leaders don’t lose sight of the millions of Americans and their families who depend on Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.These seniors have spent the past three days at policy briefings, lobbying Congress and ultimately meeting today with White House staff at the Senior Community Leaders Summit.  White House Chief of Staff Jack Lew told the group “Social Security is the most successful government program we’ve had” while Gene Sperling, the Director of the National Economic Council said, “We never looked at Social Security as a way to reduce the deficit.”

In addition to  the White House Q & A five seniors were also given the opportunity to tell their personal stories.  Their words provide some real-life context to a Washington debate that all-too-often focuses on balance sheets and let’s make a deal politics rather than the real-world impact these decisions will have on virtually every American family. At the White House today, Florida’s Carol Berman urged the administration to protect Social Security and Medicare, not cut benefits:

“I lived on the edge of financial disaster for a long time just because my husband needed long-term care.  Social Security and Medicare were the lifelines I needed to come through that very difficult time. They are lifelines future generations will also need and they should be protected and strengthened – not cut or privatized”

Margaret Metzler, from San Jose, is among the millions of America seniors who want to work but can’t find a job.  She says she’s found herself too old to be marketable in this economy yet too young to qualify for Social Security.  She told the White House:

“That’s why I’m so tired of politicians in Washington saying with great conviction that we should all be working longer as if just “saying it” will create jobs for seniors, incentivize employers to hire or retain older workers, and create an American economy ready to handle millions of older workers like me who would need to stay on the job until 69 or 70 to get their full benefits, if the retirement age is raised.  Not to mention, what will this mean to our younger workers if generations of older workers have to remain in their jobs longer?”

Retired Nashua New Hampshire Police Sergeant Fred Robinson summed up how many of these Senior Community leaders feel about Washington proposals to cut benefits or privatize Social Security and Medicare:

“I am a typical American retiree.  I’m not rich or living high on the hog – I’m not looking for benefits for myself at the expense of my children and grandchildren.  In fact, because I care about their futures I won’t sit idly by and watch American’s most successful anti-poverty programs be dismantled through benefit cuts or privatization.” 


As one participant said about today's White House meeting, " I think we got through to them".   Now these seniors will bring that message  home to their communities and to the candidates running for office nationwide.

 

 

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