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NH Alliance For Retired Americans To Tell Senator Ayotte To Vote No On TPP

Join us on the sidewalk in front of Senator Kelly Ayotte’s Manchester office to tell our NH Congressional Delegation and President Obama to vote NO on the TransPacific Partnership.

Trans-Pacific PartnershipPlease join us at Kelly Ayotte’s Office, 1200 Elm Street, Manchester, NH, Tuesday, January 12th at 12:30 PM 

President Obama is expected to push the TPP in his State of the Union address next Tuesday evening. Help us get a message to him and to our Congressional delegation that TPP is BAD for SENIORS, for the CLIMATE and for the WORKERS!  

BAD for SENIORS:  The TransPacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal will raise drug prices for all Americans, including seniors. It will block patent reform and jeopardize the U.S. government’s ability to negotiate lower prices for drugs. 

More Information Here

BAD for CLIMATE:  Our Alliance has resolved to work for climate justice but the TPP will leave us subject to further rapid decline in our environment as regulations are left to the discretion of non-elected tribunal regulators. 

BAD for WORKERS:  NAFTA promised 200,000 new jobs. The truth is almost 700,000 jobs were lost. The truth is New Hampshire lost 26,192 manufacturing jobs (or 28.2 percent) during the NAFTA-WTO period (1994-2015), according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

New Hampshire residents cannot afford another bad trade deal. TPP negotiations were held in secret. Congress tried to keep TPP out of the news. 

Don’t be silent. 

Tell our Senators and President Obama 

NO TPP!!!!

We will have signs or bring your own!

     

How Raising Wages Effects Seniors And Social Security

Lucy EdwardsLucy Edwards, President of the NH Alliance For Retired American talks about the importance of raising wages for seniors.

A few of the moronic people running for President of the United States, think they will get elected by attacking seniors.

Jeb Bush wants to “phase out Medicare.” Chris Christie and Marco Rubio want to “raise the retirement age” and reduce benefits to those who are collecting a retirement from their former employer.

This would all be good if the system was overstuffed with wealthy seniors who are lapping it up with their luxurious Social Security checks.

The fact is that the average Social Security payout in New Hampshire is $15,739 a year. This is literally on the verge of poverty. There are too many examples of seniors who have been force to sell their lifelong home because they can no longer afford it on Social Security.

Senator Bernie Sanders has been advocating expanding Social Security to help ensure that seniors do not slip into poverty. He also wants to lift the cap on the payroll tax.

On Saturday, Lucy Edwards, president of the NH Alliance for Retired Americans, addressed the more than 200 attendees at the Raising Wages Summit, on the benefits of raising the wages for seniors.

Raising the minimum wage has a direct connection to seniors and specifically their Social Security. Social Security benefits are based on the amount of money you made in each qualifying year. This means that if a worker makes more in their early years, which will benefit them in their later years.

There is another benefit to Social Security that comes from increasing the minimum wage, more payroll tax. Social Security is funded by the minuscule payroll tax automatically comes out of your paycheck. By increasing wages, more money will be collected by the Social Security Payroll tax solidifying the solvency of the program for years to come.

Edwards also highlighted one more reason why we need to raise wages for workers and close the income inequality gap is because we will all live longer. That’s right, inequality can be bad for your health.

Part of the reason low-income workers have a shorter life expectancy is because they tend to work in highly physical jobs that take a strain of their bodies, access to healthcare from an early age and continuing that care as an adult.

Edwards is an outspoken advocate for seniors and all working families. She wants everyone to live well and be able to retire with dignity and security.


Below is the full video from the Lucy Edward’s speech at the Raising Wages Summit.

How Much Money Will Corporations Spend Trying to Buy Votes for the TPP/ Fast Track?

Stamp Stampede founder Ben Cohen with members of the NH Alliance for Retired Americans.

THIS is why I’m working for the Stamp Stampede trying to #GetMoneyOut of politics.

Because most of the stories about Friday’s House vote on TAA/TPP fast-track include mention of a “revote” scheduled for Tuesday. And I’ve seen what can happen, in “revotes.”

The Guardian analyzed what happened with last month’s Senate vote on TPP fast-trackIf you care about this issue, you should take the time to read their story.

“Fast-tracking the TPP … was only possible after lots of corporate money exchanged hands with senators…

“Two days before the fast-track vote, Obama was a few votes shy of having the filibuster-proof majority he needed. Ron Wyden and seven other Senate Democrats announced they were on the fence on 12 May… In just 24 hours, Wyden and five of those Democratic holdouts – Michael Bennet of Colorado, Dianne Feinstein of California, Claire McCaskill of Missouri, Patty Murray of Washington, and Bill Nelson of Florida – caved and voted for fast-track.”

I can’t help thinking of last September’s vote on the Democracy for All amendment… when somehow between Monday night and Thursday afternoon, 25 Senators flipped their votes to kill the amendment.

A lot can change in just a few days.

And the House is expected to “revote” TAA/TPP fast-track on Tuesday.

————————

The Stamp Stampede is tens of thousands of Americans legally stamping messages on our nation’s currency to #GetMoneyOut of Politics. As more and more stamped money spreads, so will the movement to amend the Constitution and overturn Citizens United.

You can get your own stamp online at www.stampstampede.org. Or, if you’re a member of CWA, you can get a stamp from your LPAT coordinator. The average stamped bill is seen by 875 people – which makes stamping a highly-effective way to get the message out about how money in politics is corrupting our government.

It’s time to #GetMoneyOut of politics and take back our government.

Granite Staters Ask Senator Ayotte To Take The Minimum Wage Challenge

Image from NH Alliance For Retired Americans

Image from NH Alliance For Retired Americans

This week members of the New Hampshire Alliance for Retired American, New Hampshire Citizens Alliance, and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) challenged Senator Kelly Ayotte to live on minimum wage for a week.

The current federal minimum wage is $7.25 per hour that leads many to make choices between feeding their families and filling their gas tanks. This is why millions of Americans support raising the federal minimum wage to $10.10 per hour.

Senator Ayotte supported the GOP filibuster that blocked an “up and down” down of raising the minimum wage.

Activists argued that Senator Ayotte should spend a week in the shoes of a minimum wage worker by joining Reps. Jan Schakowsky, Tim Ryan, Barbara Lee, Mark Takano, and former Gov. Ted Strickland in taking the Minimum Wage Challenge and living on $77 for a week, the take home pay of a minimum wage worker.

“In 1992, my family and I fled our country, the former Yugoslavia, due to the civil war,” said Nina Mujakovic, small business owner. “Since 1998, my family and I have worked very hard to 77 dollars a weekgain back what we lost. We have obtained our American Dream and others need to have the opportunity to achieve theirs. An increase in minimum wage will help them along that path.”

Activist displayed what the reality of a $77.00 food basket looked like.

“Raising the minimum wage is a no-brainer in so many ways,” added Lucy Edward, a member of the Alliance for Retired Americans. “Better incomes lead to a better standard of living, and better health, reducing health care costs. Better incomes lead to better funding for schools, leading to more educated young people who will again have better jobs and even start their own businesses. Raising the minimum wage, and other policies that support working families, are a positive feedback economic engine.”

At the event, Lucy Edwards highlighted how raising the minimum wage will help strengthen our Social Security system.

“Once you understand that the Social Security benefit is calculated on lifetime earnings, and that the Trust Fund is funded from current earnings, you can immediately see that if a person makes more money, not only do their benefits on retirement increase, but the amount they pay into the Social Security Trust Fund increases today. Raising the Federal minimum wage, passing the Paycheck Equity legislation through Congress, and funding projects that create jobs all bring immediate returns to the Trust Fund, extending its ability to pay full benefits into the future.”

You can read Lucy’s full statement at the NH Alliance For Retired Americans Blog.

Activists vowed to watch and wait to see if Senator Ayotte would accept the challenge to live on minimum wage for a week. They are hopeful that she will then understand the difficulty of getting by on $77 a week.

Will Senator Ayotte accept the Minimum Wage Challenge and take one week to see what it is like for the millions of Americans struggling to survive on the minimum wage?   Odds are against it, but with pressure from people like you, that could change.

NH Seniors Teach Frank Guina About Healthcare At His Local Listening Session

by Jennifer Kenny of the NH Alliance for Retired Americans
20140303-213035.jpg
DOVER, N.H. — With only two days advance notice, New Hampshire Alliance for Retired Americans members made time to attend former Congressman Frank Guinta’s Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act “listening” session at the Dover Community Senior center.

Aside from his staff person, six people attended the session. Guinta did not seem surprised by the poor turnout. When asked by one attendee how to learn about these “listening” sessions in advance Guinta was not clear in his response.

Guinta’s account of this session on Facebook differs from the recollection of at least five of those present. Guinta says he “had a great time this morning talking with a group of seniors at the Dover Community Senior Center, the most recent stop on my health care listening tour. We discussed the effects that the Obama Administration’s proposed 3.55% cut to Medicare Advantage will have on their ability to receive the care they have come to expect, and the overall negative impacts of Obamacare.

In fact, when Guinta asked who in the room supported the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, all audience members indicated their support.

At first Guinta tried to play the 3.55% cut to Medicare Advantage (MA): as a cut to Medicare. But a participant brought out the true fact that this is a reduction in payments to private insurance companies that sell Medicare Advantage plans, not to beneficiaries. Then the conversation quickly changed.

Under the Affordable Care Act, Medicare Advantage private insurance companies will receive a decrease in income from the federal government. The way it used to work: under a sweetheart deal with a prior administration, private insurance companies who engaged in the sale of Medicare Advantage plans received a monthly payment per customer from the federal government. This payment was in addition to any premiums that the customer paid to the private insurance company. Talk about your Government subsidy!

Under the new law the average payment to private insurance companies of $1000 per MA customer has been cut by 3.55%. In addition, companies selling Medicare Advantage plans are still paid a bonus based on federal guidelines. Medicare Advantage companies who choose to make a business decision to continue sales of their product line still receive a substantial subsidy per patient each calendar month but at the reduced rate of 3.55%.

Please read the bulleted item below. This is a concise explanation about the seldom spoken about practice of government enabling private business to profit from all Medicare customers.
The Department of Health and Human Services website, discussing “Overpayments to Big Insurance Companies and Strengthening Medicare Advantage,” says “Today, Medicare pays Medicare Advantage insurance companies over $1,000 more per person on average than is spent per person in Traditional Medicare. This results in increased premiums for all Medicare beneficiaries, including the 77% of beneficiaries who are not currently enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan. The law levels the playing field by gradually eliminating this discrepancy. People enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan will still receive all guaranteed Medicare benefits, and the law provides bonus payments to Medicare Advantage plans that provide high quality care. Effective January 1, 2011. Learn more about Medicare and the Affordable Care Act.

It is disappointing that Frank Guinta’s account of the “listening” session is so misleading, and ignores the facts brought out by participants in the session.

Every Medicare customer needs to know that ObamaCare closes the part D “donut hole”, expands coverage for seniors who need help at home or are in nursing homes and increases access to preventive care. It also reforms Medicare advantage, the private insurance program that is costing the tax payers millions.

New Hampshire Alliance for Retired Americans members say that they continue to support the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act also known as ObamaCare because, after all, President Obama does care.

NH Labor Supports Rally At McDonalds For Higher Wages

Image from Jennifer Kenney

Image from Jennifer Kenny

Taking part in a national day of action to support fast food workers, thousands of people nation-wide protested Mcdonalds, Wendy’s, Dunkin Donuts, Burger King, Subway, and many more restaurants across the country.  They are asking for a living wage and the right to form a union.

In Manchester labor supporters including the NH AFL-CIO, American Friends Service Committee, the Alliance for Retired Americans, and the Socialist Alternative rallied together for workers at the McDonalds on South Willow Street.

The Nashua Patch posted a great video with interviews of local advocates calling for a higher minimum wage in New Hampshire.  Carol Robiboux of the Nashua Patch also captured the supporters singing a modified version of the classic Christmas carol ‘Deck the Halls,’ entitled ‘Deck the Halls With Higher Wages’.  (You can read the lyrics to the song in Arnie Alpert’s post here on the NHLN.)

Below are a couple of quotes as reported by the Nashua Patch.

The franchisees are all rich, the executives are all rich, and they don’t want to share it with the people who do the real work,” said Steve Kloppenburg, a protestor affiliated with the NH Chapter of the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations(AFL-CIO), NH-Alliance for Retired Americans, and Veterans for Peace.

There’s currently legislation filed that would raise the minimum wage incrementally to $9 over two years. New Hampshire doesn’t have a minimum wage – that was taken away by the Republican legislators two years ago.  We default to the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour,” (Kurt) Ehrenberg (NH AFL-CIO) said.

We also support workers’ right to form a union and go to the negotiating table and ask for a raise. Organizing means they have a seat at the table, to determine what a fair wage should be. Right now, these workers have no voice. They also have no healthcare benefits, no retirement, and no way to save and send their children to college,” Ehrenberg said.

Lisa McComb the regional McDonalds spokesperson responded to the Nashua Patch by saying:

“McDonald’s and our owner-operators are committed to providing our employees with opportunities to succeed.  We offer employees advancement opportunities, competitive pay and benefits.”

Really, competitive pay and benefits?  Since when are poverty wages competitive?

Lets not forget that McDonalds even gave their employees help in creating a household budget that included getting a second job.  McDonalds does offer a healthcare option for workers at $14 a week, however the plan has a $10,000 cap and is deemed insufficient by many.

In a brief statement to the Nashua Patch, Greg Moore, State Director of the Americans For Prosperity, stated:

“The reality is that many 16 and 17-year olds – the folks who often take minimum wage jobs – simply can’t create over $10 per hour in value for an employer, and simply won’t get hired.”

Everyone is entitled to their opinion, however the fact remains that the overwhelming majority of low-wage workers are women and are older that 20. In fact in New Hampshire only 22% of minimum wage earners are teenagers.  On top of that, “more than a third (35.8 percent) are married, and over a quarter (28.0 percent) are parents“. We are not talking about teenagers, we are talking about families trying to survive.

On average McDonalds only spend 30%-35% on labor costs.  Obviously if McDonalds raised the wages for all of their employees that would mean either a loss in profits (not going let that happen), or an increase in prices.  When you take into account the vast number of products sold by McDonalds alone, that would mean the $1.00 menu would have to become the $1.17 menu.  $.17 cents more is all that is need to double the current wages to $15.00 for all McDonalds workers.

McDonalds is by far the worst abuser of low-wage workers.  After raking in billions in profits, they still refuse to pay workers a living wage.  The wages are so low that many of the workers are forced to rely on government assistance programs.

Americans are subsidizing the billions of dollars in profits McDonalds brought in last year.  In 2012, McDonalds even spent $6 billion in stock buyback programs and dividends.

Do you want to support the hard working Americans that are working everyday and barely getting by or do you want to support the Wall Street hedge fund managers who already some of the wealthiest people in the world?

NH State Senator withdraws from Fix the Debt organization

Several weeks ago a letter was posted in the Portsmouth Herald from NH State Senator Lou D’Allesandro, asking us all to help “fix the debt” as the most urgent priority of the country. The New Hampshire Alliance for Retired Americans has been involved in pointing out that the organization Fix the Debt is funded by a group of billionaires who are pushing for austerity measures and whose goal is really more tax cuts for the richest Americans.  Their push to cut the national debt on the backs of the poor, elderly and disabled instead of asking the richest among us to pay a bit more is short sighted and cruel.  Senator D’Allesandro has been part of the New Hampshire group supporting this organization.

We at the NH Alliance commented on the letter.  A few days later an article appeared on the Center for Media and Democracy’s PR Watch site disclosing that Fix the Debt had posted op ed’s purporting to be written by college students in FL, WI and NH in local papers.  When the papers realized that the op ed’s were all the same, they were pulled.

One of our group decided to send a copy of the PR Watch article to Senator D’Allesandro in hopes of persuading him that this was not an organization he should be involved with.  He called her when he received it and denied ever sending the letter. He told her he had received something from Fix the Debt but refused to use it and that he had severed his connection with the organization. He had called the paper and had them remove the letter, which is why it is no longer available on the website.

We want to thank the Senator for clearing this up for us and are glad that he is no longer involved with this organization.

Posted on NH Alliance for Retired Americans Blog

Political Extremism in Congress is Stifling Efforts to Improve Social Security and Medicare

2013-08-15_shaheen_social_securityYesterday, about 60 people gathered in the Dover Public Library to celebrate the 78th anniversary of Social Security.

Special guests included NH Senator Jeanne Shaheen and Max Richtman, President of the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare.

Both speakers emphasized the need to take Social Security out of the federal budget debate.  “Social Security has a $2.7 trillion surplus,” Richtman observed.  “It is not contributing to the federal deficit.”

Shaheen was frank about the situation in Washington right now, describing the political polarization and its effects.  She explained how a minority of extremists has kept the Senate from appointing members to a conference committee on the federal budget – essentially blocking Congress from passing a bill that would fund the federal government during the fiscal year that starts in six weeks.  She said Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, who is expected to run for President in 2016, had single-handedly blocked the appointment of conference committee members on the last day before the Senate left for its August recess.

2013-08-15_shaheen_social_security3Shaheen said she understands that many seniors have a hard time making ends meet on their Social Security benefits, and said she supports raising benefits “in principle”.  “We need to have that conversation in Washington,” she said.  “But that’s not going to happen unless the partisan environment changes.”

Both speakers supported the idea of a special commission to look at the long-term future of the Social Security program, similar to the “Bipartisan Commission” that was appointed by President Ronald Reagan. “Back in the 1980s, there were only four months of solvency left,” Richtman recalled.  “Now, even without any changes, Social Security will remain solvent at least through 2033 – possibly longer, if the economy improves.”

Both speakers also endorsed the idea of raising the cap on earnings that are subject to the Social Security tax.  Right now, only the first $113,700 of an individual’s earnings are subject to Social Security taxes.

Richtman described how increased economic inequality has affected program revenues.  Historically, between 91% and 92% of all wages paid in the United States had been subject to the Social Security tax; but now, only about 81% of wages are covered by the tax.  As the middle class has lost ground, Social Security has lost revenues.

Both speakers also discussed a bill sponsored by Sen. Shaheen, which would allow the Medicare program to negotiate with pharmaceutical companies regarding drug prices.

When Medicare Part D was enacted in 2003, Congress specifically prohibited Medicare from negotiating with drug manufacturers for group discounts.  “I wonder who was in the room when that piece of the bill was drafted?” Richtman asked, and the audience laughed.

Economists have estimated that Medicare could save between $50 billion and $100 billion a year in prescription drug costs by negotiating prices.  The Veterans Administration, which does negotiate drug costs, pays an average of 58% less than Medicare providers for the most-commonly prescribed medications.

In the current partisan environment, GovTrack.us gives the bill a zero percent chance of passage.

Yesterday’s “birthday celebration” was sponsored by the New Hampshire Alliance for Retired Americans, the Granite State Organizing Project, New Hampshire Citizens Alliance and the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare.

The NH Alliance For Retired Americans Pres. Ballban Blasts Congressman Ryans Budget Proposal!

SS-Medicare-sayno.orgManchester, NH – House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan unveiled a Republican budget on Tuesday that would once again prioritize millionaires over seniors by turning Medicare into a voucher system and repealing the Obama health care law.

“Last November, the American people voted on these principles and they voted No,” said Charles Balban, President of the New Hampshire Alliance for Retired Americans.

“This budget – Ryan’s 3rd edition – is not new and it’s not improved,” continued Charles Balban. “It again proposes privatizing Medicare and turning it into a coupon system while lowering tax rates on the wealthy and corporations.”

“Paul Ryan can produce all the charts he wants, but his values are diametrically opposed to those of the rest of us. New Hampshire seniors don’t see the need to balance the budget on our backs and those of the already-struggling middle class. We don’t think the wealthy and corporations need relief. The reason we’re in this mess to begin with is that they’ve been taking a bigger and bigger piece of the pie for too many years.”

“Paul Ryan and the GOP once again are proposing to end Medicare as we know it and double seniors’ out-of-pocket costs. This plan doesn’t reduce the cost of our health care system, but rather shifts it from the government’s books onto the backs of seniors.”

“This unfair plan proposes giving seniors vouchers rather than maintaining the guaranteed benefits of Medicare, and turning Medicaid into a block-grant program. Of course these vouchers would not keep up with costs and New Hampshire seniors would be out more and more money every year.”

 

For more information on the New Hampshire Alliance for Retired Americans, please contact: Terry Lochhead, (603) 545-9989.

The New Hampshire Alliance For Retired Americans Rejects Honeywell CEO Cote’s Plan To “FIX THE DEBT”

The New Hampshire Chapter of the Alliance for Retired Americans asked some tough questions at the FIX the DEBT meeting at Saint Anselm’s College yesterday.

The Fix the Debt coalition is a group of CEO’s and business leaders who are pushing for over $4 trillion dollars in cuts to the federal budget to reduce the national debt.  The Fix the Debt coalition is looking to make significant reforms to the Social Security and Medicare programs.  The so-called ‘entitlement’ programs.

Both of these programs are fundamental for seniors and their ability to retire.  In New Hampshire the average Social Security payment is a little over $1200 per month.  At a recent protest of Social Security cuts New Hampshire AFL-CIO President Mark MacKenzie said, “tens of thousands of Granite Staters depend on safety net programs, yet our elected leaders are still choosing to use them as bargaining chips in negotiations over the deficit.”

The coalition is led by Honeywell CEA David Cote.  Honeywell has come under great scrutiny due to the fact that they received $725 million dollars in government deals, and only paid a net 2% in income taxes.

“Early in Cote’s presentation, a pair of protesters interrupted the Honeywell president, accusing his company of paying a low 2 percent income tax rate, far lower than most taxpayers. “Read our lips, pay your taxes,” they shouted before being escorted out.”

(from the Nashua Telegraph)

Charlie Balban spoke out against David Cote and the Fix The Debt coalition at the event in Manchester.

“They really don’t get it,” Charlie Balban, president of the state Chapter of the Alliance for Retired Americans, said of Cote and other business leaders and politicians seeking entitlement reforms.

“To change it is just going to hurt so many who are already hurting,” said Balban, a retired construction worker from Manchester. “They just live in a different world.”

(from the Nashua Telegraph)

According to the Nashua Telegraph David Cote does not want to remove Medicare or Social Security only wants to “to tweak the program by amending the cost-of-living increases or raising the age of eligibility.

Seniors are already struggling, making further cuts to Social Security would only put more pressure on them.  At the same time raising the Social Security age requirement only compounds the unemployment problem in America.  By forcing more Americans to work longer till reaching eligibility, means that less jobs are available for the younger generation.

Another member of the NH Alliance for Retired Americans,  Jane Lang, spoke very harshly of Cote’s plan to “tweak” the program.

“As a senior, I’m totally appalled that you, as a CEO … can stand up there and tell me that you’re going to take my Social Security, which I’m just recently getting on,” Jane Lang, a retired nurse from Salem, told Cote. “I just hope a lot of seniors understand what’s going on.”

(from the Nashua Telegraph)

Seniors are not the only ones who should be appalled by the actions of Honeywell CEO David Cote.  His plan would put force Americans to work longer by raising the age and reducing benefits by changing the cost of living adjustments.  All of these actions would result in less money being paid from Social Security.  Everyone needs to understand that Social Security is not a gift for reaching retirement age, it is a self funded program.  We pay into the program all of our working lives and the money is invested through the government and paid out to you in retirement.

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