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Watch Out! Now Marco Rubio Is Coming For Your Social Security Too

Cutting Social Security would push millions of seniors into poverty.

The Republican presidential candidates claiming that we need to cut the Social Security and make Medicare a voucher program, giving more money to private insurance companies who are already raking Americans over the coals for coverage, just added another member.

Yesterday in Henniker, Marco Rubio said he wants to cut Social Security and privatize Medicare. 

Watch the video by clicking here.

We’ve been down this road before. Jeb Bush, in Manchester, said that he’d “phase out” Medicare, while John Kasich wanted to cut Social Security and once told a voter that “you’d get over” the cuts. Marco Rubio is just following the GOP tune of cutting Social Security benefits that over 200,000 Granite Staters currently depend on.

Social Security is not going bankrupt as Rubio and other talking heads claim.

Currently the Social Security Trust Fund holds a $2.7 trillion dollar surplus and is fully funded for the next 20 years. After those 20 years Social Security will continue to pay out at 77% of the current benefit rate for eternity.

By law Social Security cannot add anything to our national debt and is fully paid for by payroll taxes. Because Social Security is funded through payroll taxes if workers wages were to rise – say by raising the minimum wage – then more money would be invested in the program strengthening the system.

Social Security is an earned benefit that we have been paying for since the day we entered the workforce.

 

“Democrats believe that Social Security is a pledge to our seniors, but Marco Rubio and Republicans want to make it harder for those who have worked their entire lives to get what was promised to them,” said Lizzy Price, New Hampshire Democratic Party Communications Director. “Granite Staters deserve someone willing to fight to keep their benefits, not claim that Social Security and Medicare have ‘weakened us as a people.’”

Cutting Social Security will push millions of seniors who are currently living on the edge of poverty over that edge.  In 2013, over 63 million people collected their earned benefit from Social Security with a national average of about $14,000 dollars a year.

For too many, Social Security is the only thing they have to live on. The sad fact is that 1 in 3 seniors collecting Social Security rely on their Social Security check for 90% or more of their monthly income.

The two leading Democrats in the presidential primary have plans to ensure that seniors will be protected now and for future generations to come.

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton vowed to protect Social Security and Medicare from any Republican privatization scheme.

“I will also defend Social Security and Medicare from the efforts of the Republicans to privatize both of them….As your president, I will defend it. I will not let anybody think that they can privatize it. But we’re going to have to make sure that we shore it up so that it is there not just for those who are currently recipients but for generations to come.”

Senator Sanders also wants to strengthen Social Security and increase benefits by lifting the cap on the payroll taxes that fund it.

“By lifting this cap so that everyone who makes over $250,000 a year pays the same percentage of their income into Social Security as the middle class and working families. This would not only extend the solvency of Social Security for the next 50 years, but also bring in enough revenue to expand benefits by an average of $65 a month; increase cost-of-living-adjustments; and lift more seniors out of poverty by increasing the minimum benefits paid to low-income seniors.”

Eliminating Social Security will push many seniors into poverty and allow politicians like Rubio, Bush and Kasich to steal the trillions of dollars in our hard earned money under the guise of reform.

We must not let them take our hard earned benefit away.

 

(Featured image by Gage Skidmore)

Pfizer Jacks Up Drug Costs, Pays Billions to Stockholders

Prescription Prices Ver5

Photo by Chris Potter via Flickr

Ever wonder why prescription drug costs are so high? Take a few minutes and read Bill Lazonick’s piece on Pfizer.

From January 2001 through September 2015, Pfizer paid out [to stockholders] $95.5 billion in buybacks and $87.1 billion in dividends.

That’s $182.6 billion paid to stockholders… compared to $37.1 billion paid in corporate taxes over the same time frame. Do the math. That’s almost five times more money paid to stockholders than paid in taxes.

Now, stop and think about this. Why are stockholders getting all that money? When shares are bought and sold on the stock exchange, none of that money goes back to the corporation. Instead, the money goes to the previous owner of the stock – who may have owned that stock for less than a second. (Read more about “high frequency trading” here.)

And yet, most corporations pay lots of money to their stockholders. For what? Passing stock from one owner to another isn’t investing in the corporation’s future. So far in 2015, Pfizer has paid more than twice as much to stockholders as it has invested in R&D.

Why are stockholders getting all that money?

— — — —

tieby Unsplash via PixabayPaying money to stockholders benefits corporate executives who are “paid for performance.” (How this works, using Verizon as a case study, is a previous NHLN post.) In the case of Pfizer’s CEO, “75% of his long-term equity awards are earned based on relative and absolute total shareholder return.” In other words, the CEO’s compensation depends on Pfizer paying money to shareholders. If stockholders don’t get enough money, the CEO doesn’t get that compensation. And it’s not just the CEO. All of Pfizer’s top corporate executives are paid according to whether they meet “shareholder return” targets.

Back to Bill Lazonick’s piece:

In 2014, [Ian C.] Read as [Pfizer] CEO had total direct compensation of $22.6 million, of which 27 percent came from exercising stock options and 50 percent from the vesting of stock awards. The other four highest-paid executives named on Pfizer’s 2015 proxy statement averaged $8.0 million, with 24 percent from stock options and 41 percent from stock awards.

Remember, a good chunk of that compensation was based on the amount of money paid to stockholders. Which probably explains why Pfizer is paying so much more to stockholders than it’s spending on R&D.

— — — —

dollar by TBIT via PixabayWhere does all that money come from, anyway?

From Bloomberg:

Pfizer Inc., the nation’s biggest drugmaker, has raised prices on 133 of its brand-name products in the U.S. this year, according to research from UBS, more than three-quarters of which added up to hikes of 10 percent or more. … In a note Friday, analysts at Morgan Stanley said Pfizer’s net prices grew 11 percent a year on average from 2012 to 2014.

The Wall Street Journal documented Pfizer’s three-year market research campaign to decide the price of a new breast cancer drug.

“[I]ts process yielded a price that bore little relation to the drug industry’s oft-cited justification for its prices, the cost of research and development. … Staff members put together a chart estimating the revenue and prescription numbers at various prices… The chart showed a 25% drop in doctors’ willingness to prescribe the new drug if it cost more than $10,000 a month.”

Two years ago, AARP investigated the pricing strategy for another Pfizer drug, with an expiring patent:

[T]he manufacturer of the popular anti-cholesterol drug Lipitor employed an unusually aggressive strategy — including a pay-for-delay agreement, a coupon program, and a substantial price increase — to try to maintain revenue and market share after Lipitor’s patent expired. … Several major U.S. retailers have filed lawsuits against Pfizer and Ranbaxy that accuse them of violating antitrust laws by striking a deal that kept generic versions of Lipitor off the market… Pfizer’s chief executive reported that they maintained three times more market share than what is traditionally seen when blockbusters lose patent protection, “add(ing) hundreds of millions of dollars of profitability to the company.”

And a bunch of Pfizer’s profits come from government spending. There isn’t a lot of available research into government spending on pharmaceuticals, but what I’ve found is enlightening. As of 2010, Pfizer’s Lipitor – in varying strengths – represented three of the top-20 drugs prescribed under both Medicare and Department of Defense health programs. As of 2003, Medicaid was spending almost $650 million a year just on Lipitor.

That’s a lot of taxpayer money going to Pfizer.  While the corporation is paying twice as much to shareholders as it’s spending on R&D. While it’s paying five times as much to shareholders as it’s spending on corporate taxes. While Pfizer is trying to use the US corporate tax rate to justify off-shoring profits through a merger with Allergan.

While Pfizer’s CEO is receiving millions in compensation based on the amount of money the corporation pays to stockholders.

— — — —

hands by Gaertringen via PixabayAnd where else does that money come from?

If you have family or friends on Medicare, you probably know that the price of prescription drug coverage is going up significantly next year – even though there will be no Social Security COLA.

If you’re a State of New Hampshire retiree, you know that your cost of drug coverage is going up significantly next year – even though there hasn’t been a retirement COLA for the past six years.

The billions being paid to Pfizer stockholders are coming out of a lot of pockets… including the pockets of people who are spending their “golden years” choosing between medicine and food.

One more time: why are stockholders getting all that money? What have they done to deserve it?

Speaker Ryan Has Three Goals: Destroy Social Security, Medicare And The USPS

Paul Ryan (FLIKR CC Starley Shelton)

Paul Ryan (FLIKR CC Starley Shelton)

Koch Brothers darling Multi Millionaire Congressman Paul Ryan is leaping back on to the national stage as Speaker of the House of Representatives. Mr Ryan was initially hesitant citing family concerns (despite the fact he is an opponent of paid leave for ordinary Americans)  but eventually was swayed by other GOP leaders to take the job. Ryan, who seems fixated on reducing retirement benefits for both the American public and especially federal workers, will have a larger platform to try to make these cuts a reality. Clearly these ideas are unpopular to many but as Paul Krugman brilliantly stated, Ryan is “the best con man they got.”  Republicans are using him to sell their treasure trove of unpopular policies to the apathetic American Public

Ryan was an architect of George Bush’s  failed plan to partially privatize  Social Security in 2005. More recently Ryan has teamed up with Congressman Darrell Issa to push the idea of reducing Federal Employee Retirement System (FERS) benefits for Federal Workers. In a letter to the Congressional Budget Office they emphasized that the CBO should consider “different options for reforming FERS, based on changes made in recent years to other large pension plans, both public and private. The report should include, but not limit itself to, adjusting the retirement contributions of federal employees, altering the formula for computing pension benefit payments, and expanding the defined contribution component while reducing the defined benefit component.” This sounds quite ominous for Federal Workers. The intent is crystal clear.

As outlined in The New Yorker Ryan believes the only reason privatization failed in 2005 was because of the way it was marketed.

“The Administration did a bad job of selling it,” he told me. Bush had campaigned on national-security issues, only to pitch Social Security reform after reelection. “And . . . thud,” Ryan said. “You’ve got to prepare the country for these things. You can’t just spring it on them after you win.” The lesson: “Don’t let the engineers run the marketing department.”

 

Here is where the job of being an elite con man comes into play.

10404189_10153548324976418_913827613849190064_nAfter repeatedly emphasizing he did not want the Speaker’s job he abruptly changed his mind and accepted it. Publicly he worried that “its a job for a empty nester” not a person with young children.  “I cannot and will not give up my family time,” he told reporters before abruptly changing his mind.  Curiously Ryan has been a staunch opponent of paid family leave despite the fact the United States is the only industrialized country in the world that does not offer paid family leave.  Astonishingly this country ranks last in government supported time off for new parents.

“Paul Ryan is rightly concerned about his job’s impact on his spouse and children,” said Judy Conti, federal advocacy coordinator at the National Employment Law Project. “Yet [he] isn’t willing to guarantee that all workers… have the necessary tools to balance their work and family obligations.”FT_13.12.11_parentalLeave

“For workers without paid family leave, taking time off to care for a new baby or a seriously ill loved one can have devastating long-term financial consequences, ranging from racking up credit card debt to raiding savings to bankruptcy,” Dina Bakst, co-founder and co-president of A Better Balance, told ABC News. “Paid family leave would provide a critical safety net for these working families in their times of need.”

Make no mistake Speaker Ryan will be pushing an agenda that is quite friendly to Multi Millionaires children at the expense of working families.  “My greatest worry is the consequence of not stepping up, of some day having my own kids ask me, ‘When the stakes were so high, why didn’t you do all you could? Why didn’t you stand and fight for my future when you had the chance?'” Ryan said to reporters. His children do not have to worry he will make life easier for children of the wealthy at every turn.

Speaker Ryan will try to dismantle the three of most popular parts of the federal government to continue the GOP fixation of shrinking government.

Speaker Ryan accepts millions of dollars from individuals and groups that will profit by turning medicare/medicaid into a voucher scheme and by the privatization of Social Security.  He targets for “reform” include vital government services like the US Postal Service, Social Security Administration, and Medicare/Medicaid all services that benefit ordinary Americans.  The wealthy have no need for a safety net. They want to profit by its demise.

Speaker Ryan will now play the role of con man daily on a national scale. He surely will be selling day for night.  We all must call him out on his continued  hypocrisy before our countries safety net vanishes.  Ryan and his fellow multi millionaire politicians are in politics for the wrong reason. They want to accelerate the wealth of the few at the expense of the many.

 

 

Congress Pushes Budget Deal To Avoid Shutdown, Delays Sequester, And Partially Preserve Social Security

Today the White House and congressional leadership announced a budget agreement that sets government funding levels for two years and extends the nation’s borrowing limit through 2017. The agreement provides the defense and domestic discretionary budgets with equal relief from mandatory spending cuts.

“This budget agreement provides a balanced approach to funding the federal government over the next two years,” said Senator Jeanne Shaheen. “I’m very encouraged that leadership in Congress and the White House were able to find a bipartisan compromise that lifts the debt ceiling and provides much needed relief from across the board budget cuts known as sequestration. More blind budget cutting would be disastrous for New Hampshire families and our state’s economy. It’s my hope that Congress can quickly approve this legislation and avoid any last-minute brinkmanship that could threaten the full faith and credit of the United States.”

American Federation of Government Employees National President J. David Cox Sr. praised the deal as it relieved workers from the fear of another government shutdown and forced unpaid furloughs. 

“This budget deal is an exceedingly rare example of what can be accomplished when elected leaders put aside their partisan bickering and govern in a responsible way that benefits working families.

The bipartisan budget deal announced by congressional leaders and the White House would suspend sequestration for the next two years and provide much-needed increases in military and domestic spending.

Federal workers have endured $159 billion in cuts under the guise of fiscal restraint, and our members were united in opposing any budget that would target them for additional sacrifice.

The budget also is good news for federal retirees under the Civil Service Retirement System, who will no longer be facing a 53% increase in their premiums under Medicare Part B.

Federal employees are relieved that they will no longer be facing the threat of another government shutdown or unpaid furloughs. We urge the Congress to repeal the Budget Control Act altogether so that these manufactured crises will no longer occur.”

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka appeared to be more relieved than joyful over the deal.

“Congressional leaders and the President successfully eluded the traps set by a conservative faction in Congress who have tried to hold our economy hostage to achieve their radical agenda.

The full faith and credit of the United States will be preserved as we pay our bills on time – preventing brinksmanship over the debt until 2017.

Tight budget caps on defense and non-defense spending will be eased, restoring funding for vital programs and stimulating the economy. While it fails to provide Medicare beneficiaries with full relief from higher costs, it reduces a spike in deductibles for everyone and avoids a sharp increase in premiums for many. It ensures that 11 million Americans on Social Security Disability Insurance continue to receive full benefits through 2022. It avoids across-the-board benefit cuts of nearly 20 percent starting in 2016. 

While it does not offer long-term solutions for these problems, it provides relief without yielding to the conservatives’ extreme “entitlement reform” approaches that would have done real harm.

Now that we have again kept our country from going over the edge, we hope lawmakers will work on a raising wages agenda that can bring better lives to working families.”

Richard Fiesta, Executive Director of the Alliance for Retired Americans was pleased that Congress avoided massive cuts to Social Security and Medicare and vowed to continue pushing for a more accurate way to calculate the Consumer Price Index for the Elderly. 

“Movement to prevent a default and avert a government shutdown is welcome news for all Americans, but the deal is not perfect.

The Alliance for Retired Americans is relieved that this budget deal would protect millions of seniors from significant increases to their Medicare Part B deductibles while preventing a 20% cut to Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits in 2016.

The reallocation between the Social Security Old-Age and Survivors Insurance (OASI) and SSDI trust funds would prevent a massive cut in benefits for the disabled. The transfer would not impact the long-term solvency of Social Security.

We would have preferred no increase to Medicare Part B premiums; however, limiting the increases of those who are not ‘held harmless’ is a step in the right direction. In early October, Virginia Alliance President Ron Thompson of Ivor, Virginia spoke at a Capitol Hill press conference on how the increase would financially harm him. Over the last two weeks more than 30,000 Alliance members contacted their Members of Congress saying that a 52% premium hike was unfair and unwarranted. Our voices were heard.

While it appears a crisis has been averted, we have not improved retirement security for our nation’s seniors by expanding their earned Social Security benefits. We will continue to fight to make that a reality by urging Congress to implement a more accurate way to calculate cost-of-living adjustments: the Consumer Price Index for the Elderly (CPI-E).”

Congress Votes Tomorrow On Everything That Will Happen For The Rest Of Obama’s Presidency

Congress West Front Late last night, House GOP leadership announced a compromise bill that will (temporarily) end all the Congress-created crises by setting the federal budget and suspending the debt limit through the end of the Obama presidency.

The House is expected to vote on the bill tomorrow (Wednesday). A draft of the bill is available here.

What it doesn’t do, from the perspective of the Right Wing:

  1. It doesn’t try to force through the Keystone XL Pipeline.
  2. It doesn’t try to de-fund Planned Parenthood.
  3. It doesn’t try to repeal the Affordable Care Act.
  4. It doesn’t try to voucherize Medicare.
  5. It doesn’t try to privatize Social Security.

What it doesn’t do, from the perspective of the Working Class:

  1. It doesn’t rein in corporate giveaways to stockholders, such as dividends and buybacks. (Trillions of dollars that corporations could have used to create jobs, pay fair wages and make long-term investments.)
  2. It doesn’t end the tax preference for unearned income. (Most investment income is still taxed at about half the rate of wage income.) Ending this tax preference could end the budget deficit.
  3. It doesn’t eliminate the Social Security wage cap (which would strengthen Social Security, long-term).
  4. It doesn’t raise the minimum wage.
  5. In its current form, it doesn’t do much to reverse previous cuts to Food Stamps, veterans benefits, and other safety-net programs. It doesn’t mention the 2.1 million American workers who are long-term unemployed… or the 1-in-five American children who are living in poverty.

What it does do:

  1. It loosens the Sequester budget restrictions, both for defense and non-defense spending – and it also increases an off-budget military spending account.
  2. It completely rewrites the procedures governing IRS audits of business partnerships. (Call me cynical, but I’m guessing that part of the bill was written by somebody’s lobbyist.)
  3. It diverts some Social Security tax revenue into the Social Security Disability Trust Fund, and *privacy alert* it also creates a new information clearinghouse (presumably, to be used to detect fraud).
  4. It reduces payments to some Medicare providers and regulates the increase in Medicare supplement policy premiums.
    AND
  5. It renames the small House rotunda… in honor of the House Freedom Caucus.

It does some other things. Please take the time to read through the bill yourself – and encourage your Congressional representatives to do the same. Contact information for those representatives is available here.

————-

Having watched this impossibly deadlocked Congress — and its impossibly intransigent Right Wing

Personally, if this “grand compromise” happens, I don’t expect anything else to get through this Congress until President Obama leaves office.  (Remember, GOP extremists have been working to “submarine his presidency” since the very first day of his first term.)

Even After 50 Years Of Success, Politicians Are Still Trying To Destroy Medicare

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President Johnson signs Medicare into law. Image by the LBJ Library

Today, we celebrate the 50th Anniversary of Medicare, a critical lifeline for America’s seniors that is working. And thanks to the Affordable Care Act, that program will be solvent through 2030.

“Fourteen percent of Americans are over the age of 65. Thanks to Medicare, they have a high quality of life in retirement without sacrificing their standard of living or burdening their loved ones with medical bills,” said Richard Fiesta, executive director of the Alliance for Retired Americans. “Medicare is a success story. It’s improved and strengthened families, the U.S. health care system and the lives of older Americans and the disabled. We’re encouraging our retiree members to speak out to make sure that it is preserved for future generations.”

“Current and future retirees must be wary of those politicians who are seeking radical changes that would make it harder for seniors and disabled Americans to see a doctor or fill a prescription,” said Fiesta. “Telling our stories about the difference Medicare has made in families’ lives is important.”

But, just last week, we had a new reminder that Medicare, despite it’s success, is under attack by Republicans. Here in New Hampshire, Jeb Bush admitted that he wanted to “phase out” Medicare for future seniors. He even doubled down on his position after being challenged by a frustrated senior in Gorham (video here).

Jane Lang, Vice President of the NH Alliance for Retired Americans confronted Jeb Bush at a town hall meeting in Gorham, NH shortly after he announced his plans to “phase out Medicare.”

After the event, Lang and the NH Alliance for Retired Americans posted a statement:

“Medicare was created 50 years ago this month to ensure that older Americans, who are most in need of health care services, would not have to choose between a hospital stay and keeping a roof over their head.”

“Since then, all Americans have contributed to Medicare with the assumption that it would be there for them when they reached retirement age.”

“We will fight against any attempt to take away our earned health care benefits and make sure that older Americans know who is on our side, and who is not.”

Jeb Bush isn’t the only Republican that wants to end Medicare as we know it. Several, including Kelly Ayotte, tried to pass the Ryan budget, which would end the program as we know it, while at the same time increasing out-of-pocket costs for seniors.

Ayotte has voted three times for the Ryan Budget that would turn Medicare into a voucher program, which could rob over 450,000 seniors and soon-to-be seniors across New Hampshire of the benefits they’ve rightfully earned. [Vote 46, 3/21/13; Vote 98, 5/16/12; Vote 77, 5/25/11]

Every GOP presidential candidate wants to repeal the Affordable Care Act, which has helped to strengthen Medicare’s solvency for the future, while also saving seniors billions in prescription drug costs.

“As we celebrate the 50th Anniversary of Medicare as a successful program that hundreds of thousands of Granite Staters rely on for health care, it’s important to see what the Republican nominees for President have in store. Jeb Bush’s comments last week just adds another chapter to the long book of Republicans trying to destroy Medicare or turn it over to corporations. Nearly the entire Republican field supported Paul Ryan’s efforts to end Medicare as we know it. New Hampshire simply can’t afford Jeb Bush’s ideas to phase out Medicare,” said New Hampshire Democratic Party Chair Ray Buckley.

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Stand Up for Workers at Voters First Forum

Pro-Worker Visibility at NH Voters First Forum

This coming Monday, August 3rd, the New Hampshire Union Leader will be hosting the first Republican Primary (debate) Forum.  All the major players in the GOP Primary are scheduled to attend including Governor Scott Walker, Governor John Kasich, Governor Chris Christie, Senator Rand Paul, Governor Jeb Bush, and the list goes on.  Reportedly there could be as many as 16 candidates on the stage for this forum on Aug. 3rd, just days before the big official Fox News debate.

We want to show that in New Hampshire, workers matter! Many of these politicians are trying to make their career by attacking working families.  Slashing our rights, stealing our pensions, and gutting the programs we have paid into all of our lives.

Come join us for a pro-worker visibility and tell the world that attacking working families is not the road to the White House.

Sign up on Facebook

New Hampshire AFL-CIO members and community allies will join the gathering of pro-labor & progressive voices outside the New Hampshire Union Leader Voters First Forum at St. Anselm College on Monday, August 3. The forum will feature comments by 14 GOP presidential primary candidates, including anti-worker Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker.

Monday, August 3, 2015 | 5:30pm

St. Anselm College, Manchester NH

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Retirees Mark Medicare’s Golden Anniversary with More Than 120 Events Coast to Coast

Alliance For Retired Americans

(Washington, DC) — Recognizing the essential role that Medicare has played in helping older Americans live healthier, longer and more financially secure lives, members of the Alliance for Retired Americans are pulling out all the stops to host nearly 120 events to celebrate and educate the public about the importance and necessity of the program on its 50th birthday on July 30.

Events are happening over the next two weeks from Hawaii to Florida and Maine to California ranging from teach-ins and rallies, to birthday parties with music and policy discussions with members of Congress. For example, Peter Yarrow of Peter, Paul and Mary will perform at an event in Cohoe, New York on July 30. Rallies are planned in Oakland and Los Angeles and at the State Capitol building in Hartford. Smaller events are planned at local gathering spots in Cincinnati and numerous senior centers in other states.

In addition, members of the Alliance will join House and Senate leaders on Capitol Hill on July 29. A list of locations is available here and at www.medicare50th.org/events.

“Fourteen percent of Americans are over the age of 65.Thanks to Medicare, they have a high quality of life in retirement without sacrificing their standard of living or burdening their loved ones with medical bills,” said Richard Fiesta, executive director of the Alliance for Retired Americans. “Medicare is a success story. It’s improved and strengthened families, the U.S. health care system and the lives of older Americans and the disabled. We’re encouraging our retiree members to speak out to make sure that it is preserved for future generations.”

A recent Kaiser Family Foundation poll found that a strong majority of Americans and Medicare beneficiaries believe it is an important program and favor keeping it intact. Despite this bipartisan public support, Republicans in Congress have introducced dozens of bills that would reduce services and increase costs for beneficiaries, and the leading Republican presidential candidates have all signaled that they want to cut and/or change the fundamental nature of this earned benefit.

“Current and future retirees must be wary of those politicians who are seeking radical changes that would make it harder for seniors and disabled Americans to see a doctor or fill a prescription,” said Fiesta. “Telling our stories about the difference Medicare has made in families’ lives is important.”

The Alliance has created a special website www.medicare50th.org which highlights a few Medicare stories from our members, provides information about anniversary events, and allows visitors to share their experiences with Medicare. It also includes an interactive timeline that highlights key dates in the history of the program.

“Affordable health care for seniors took years to make a reality and would not have happened without committed, grassroots activism. Today’s Alliance members do not take these earned benefits for granted and will continue to speak out to ensure that Medicare remains strong for our children, and for our grandchildren.

Jeb Bush Enrages Granite Staters With Talk Of “Phasing Out” Medicare

Granite Staters Respond to Jeb Bush’s New Plan to “Phase Out” Medicare 

Speaking at an Americans for Prosperity event yesterday, Jeb Bush enraged people when he said “we need to figure out a way to phase out” Medicare for future enrollees.

If you did not see the video, here it is.

Jeb Bush has been outspoken trying to woo his party base with talks of “phasing out” Medicare and raising the retirement age on Social Security.  He also told the Union Leader that people should work more hours.  In Jeb’s world we are all going to work 70 hours a week until we die because seniors will not have access to Medicare and will be force to survive on the bread crumbs that Social Security will provide after Jeb forces through his cuts.

Granite Staters spoke out against Jeb Bush’s comments today saying he is “declaring war on seniors.”

Ray Buckley, New Hampshire Democratic Party Chair had this to say about Jeb Bush’s plan to phase out Medicare: 

“In fact the numbers prove that the Affordable Care Act has strengthened medicare’s outlook for decades for come. Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, out of pocket costs for preventative services have been eliminated for 183,000 granite state medicare beneficiaries and nearly 19,000 Medicare prescription drug beneficiaries have been phased out of the donut hole coverage gap.  

“This is just the latest chapter in a long book of Republicans trying to destroy Medicare or turn it over to corporations. Nearly the entire Republican field supported Paul Ryan’s efforts to end Medicare as we know it. And Jeb Bush just made it crystal clear. 

“For half a century, Medicare has remained a critical part of the safety net for our Senior citizens as a sacred promise that we must uphold for future generations. As of 2012, there were 231,000 granite staters that would rely on medicare for health coverage. New Hampshire can’t afford Jeb Bush’s ideas to phase out Medicare and neither can the rest of the country.

“Bush also said last night that he thinks phasing out Medicare will be a quote-unquote “winning argument.” I’m happy to take that bet. Not here in the Granite State.”

A true Granite Stater, Lenore Patton of Hampton, New Hampshire is clearly unhappy with Jeb Bush’s plan:

“I am frustrated that Jeb wants to phase out Medicare. I thought this fight was over when President Obama was elected and our country rejected the Romney-Ryan plan to privatize Medicare. 

Seniors like me have worked hard their whole lives, supported their families, given back to their communities. It’s clear Jeb Bush doesn’t get it. Calling for phasing out Medicare and repealing the Affordable Care Act, which has saved seniors money, is not what we need… 

“Throughout his career Jeb has only fought for the wealthiest – giving them tax breaks that shifted the burden to the middle class. This is no different. 

“Jeb Bush’s plan to phase out Medicare isn’t going to help the middle class, it’ll just put them farther and farther behind. Bush, once again, is looking out for himself and others like him – a way to put more in their pockets – instead of working to help people from falling into poverty. That is something we just can’t stand for.”

The New Hampshire Alliance for Retired Americans have been an outspoken advocate for protecting the social net for seniors and preserving Medicare and Social Security for future generations.

Jane Lange, Vice President of the New Hampshire Alliance for Retired Americans released the following statement:  

“Jeb Bush has declared war on seniors.”

“By going after their earned Medicare benefits, he is putting our health and economic well-being at risk.”

“Medicare was created 50 years ago this month to ensure that older Americans, who are most in need of health care services, would not have to choose between a hospital stay and keeping a roof over their head.”

“Since then, all Americans have contributed to Medicare with the assumption that it would be there for them when they reached retirement age.”

“We will fight against any attempt to take away our earned health care benefits and make sure that older Americans know who is on our side, and who is not.”

Considering that seniors are the highest demographic of active voters, I think it was unwise to tell them you would like to steal their Medicare.

Kelly Ayotte Votes Against New Hampshire’s Best Interests In Budget

Senator Kelly Ayotte 2 (Gage Skidmore)

Senator Kelly Ayotte at CPAC in 2013 (Image by Gage Skidmore FLIKR)

As the Senate wrapped up a slew of budget amendment votes Kelly Ayotte’s priorities were on full display, and now she has to begin the difficult work of trying to explain her indefensible votes to her constituents back home.

Below is just a sampling of where Kelly Ayotte voted against New Hampshire’s best interests:

  • Voted against an amendment to prevent companies from getting tax benefits for shipping jobs overseas. Over 106,000 jobs in New Hampshire are at risk of being outsourced
  • Opposed an amendment to adopt the Paycheck Fairness Act to give women more tools to fight pay discrimination.
  • Voted against measures to protect Social Security against privatization and benefit cuts and prevent Medicare from being turned into a voucher program
  • Voted against an amendment that would let young people refinance their student loans, which would help 129,000 borrowers in New Hampshire, and against restoring cuts to the Pell Grant program
  • Opposed a measure to provide two free years of community college by raising revenue through requiring millionaires and billionaires to pay their fair share of taxes

Kelly Ayotte’s priorities are clear, and New Hampshire students, seniors families and workers don’t make the list.

“If anyone wasn’t clear about how extreme Kelly Ayotte truly is, they don’t need to look any further than her votes on this budget against New Hampshire students, seniors, families and workers,” said Sadie Weiner, DSCC National Press Secretary. “New Hampshire voters deserve better than Kelly Ayotte’s refusal to stand up for their best interests and they’ll hold her accountable in 2016.”

These are not the priorities of New Hampshire working families.  These are the priorities of the rich, elite 1% who want to take more from the hard working middle class and refuse to pay their fair share.

“From voting to protect tax benefits for companies that outsource jobs to opposing a measure that would let young people refinance their student loans, Kelly Ayotte proved once again that her focus in Washington is looking out for her special interest allies and not the best interests of New Hampshire,” said New Hampshire Democratic Party Chair Ray Buckley.

This budget will not help Granite State families, it will only hurt them.  Slashing social programs that low income families rely on, reducing benefits to seniors who are already struggling to pay their bills on a fixed income, and gives more tax breaks to wealthy corporations who skirt paying their fair share in taxes.

It is obvious that Senator Ayotte is more interested in following her out of touch party leadership than doing what is right for New Hampshire families.  She is also setting herself up nicely for a potential GOP Vice President nomination, building a hefty war chest and voting right down party lines.

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