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Clinton-Kaine is an Excellent Fit for Retirees

Ticket is Ultimate Antidote to Worries that Trump-Pence would cut Social Security, Medicare

Robert Roach, Jr., President of the Alliance for Retired Americans, released the following statement regarding Hillary Clinton’s selection of Virginia Senator Tim Kaine as her Vice Presidential nominee:
Alliance For Retired Americans

“Senator Tim Kaine is a superb choice to be Vice President. The Alliance for Retired Americans was already energized about a Hillary Clinton presidency, and Senator Kaine is the icing on the cake. His 93% lifetime score from the Alliance for his pro-retiree votes is proof that he is the right person for the job.

“Secretary Clinton has been a champion for retirees throughout her distinguished career, and Senator Kaine has been throughout his. As a Governor and as a Senator, he has always had retirees’ best interests in mind. He has stated plainly that ‘we shouldn’t embrace radical reforms like the Ryan Plan or the privatization of Social Security,’ and that is music to our ears. Senator Kaine clearly opposes efforts to cut, privatize or shift Medicare costs to retirees.

“If you go down the list of what retirees want the most, Tim Kaine checks all the boxes. He has pledged to protect Social Security. Like Secretary Clinton, he would rein in prescription drug costs by allowing the Medicare program to negotiate with pharmaceutical companies for better prices, just as the Department of Veterans Affairs does.

“His life’s work exemplifies the Alliance’s mission to enhance the quality of life for all Americans. He will protect our traditional pension plans from attack.

“On the other hand, Donald Trump’s choice of Governor Mike Pence as his running mate locked in place a team that endangers the things that retirees care about the most: the protection and expansion of their earned Social Security and Medicare benefits. The contrast could not be starker. We are confident that the Clinton-Kaine team will give us the retirement security we need.

“The Alliance’s 4.4 million members and 1600 chapters will do all they can before Election Day to educate seniors on the differences between the Trump-Pence plans for seniors and the Clinton-Kaine plans. We look forward to working with a Clinton-Kaine Administration to expand our earned Social Security benefits.”

Kelly Ayotte’s Misleading New Seniors Ad Features State Legislators Who Voted to Privatize Social Security, Cut Medicare Protections and Alzheimer’s Program Funding

Ayotte releases new ad to buffer her credentials on Social Security, Medicare, and Alzheimer’s research support, but instead features two NH State Representatives who supported privatizing Social Security, dismantling Medicare, and cutting funding for an Alzheimer’s caregiver respite program

photo of Sen. Kelly Ayotte by Gage Skidmore via Flickr Creative Commons

Concord, NH – Sensitive to a recent TV ad critical of her votes to dismantle key programs for seniors, Kelly Ayotte has released a misleading response ad intended to buffer her credentials on Social Security, Medicare, and Alzheimer’s research support. The ad, however, features two New Hampshire State Representatives who are in lockstep with efforts to dismantle key programs.

NH State Representatives Mary Griffin (R) and Walter Kolodziej (R) – along with Kolodziej’s wife and one other individual – claim that Ayotte has protected seniors despite an ample vote record that shows Ayotte voted to turn Medicare into a voucher program and raise the eligibility age. The ad and copy also attempt to bolster Ayotte’s record in other areas, such as Alzheimer’s research funding. However, the voting records of Ayotte and those she trusts on senior issues would harm seniors on issues regarding Medicare, Social Security, and Alzheimer’s support:

  • Ayotte effectively voted for FY 2012 Ryan Budget, which replaced Medicare with a premium support plan. The plan would more than double out-of-pocket costs for the average Medicare enrollee. (Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, 4/7/11; Wall Street Journal, 4/4/11)
  • Ayotte effectively voted for the FY2013 Ryan Budget, which replaced Medicare with a voucher program, increased the eligibility age, reopened the donut hole, and repealed the Affordable Care Act. (Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, 3/28/12; AARP, Letter to Congress, 3/21/12)
  • Ayotte voted for FY 2014 Ryan Budget plan which would “replace Medicare’s guarantee of health coverage with a premium-support voucher.” (Senate Vote 46, 3/21/13; Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, 3/15/13)
  • Ayotte voted for FY 2011 budget with deep cuts to agencies responsible for Alzheimer’s research. In congressional testimony on March 11, 2011, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said that the proposed cuts would mean that “about half of the hundred largest clinical studies including those on cancer and Alzheimer’s would probably be canceled.” (Vote 36, 3/9/11; Politifact, 4/15/11)
  • Ayotte surrogates Kolodziej and Griffin voted for urging Congress to privatize all aspects of Social Security. Privatizing social security puts at risk benefits for New Hampshire’s current and future retirees. (HCR39, Roll Call #190, 3/21/2012)
  • Ayotte surrogates Kolodziej and Griffin voted for an Interstate Health Care Compact that sought to allow New Hampshire to opt-out of Medicare and other programs, and eliminate all federal minimum benefit guarantees and protections for New Hampshire seniors and others. (HB1560, Roll Call #87, 2/15/2012)
  • Ayotte surrogates Kolodziej and Griffin voted for suspending funding for the Alzheimer’s disease and related disorders (ADRD) program. The program provides temporary respite services to family members, partners and other informal caregivers who are caring for an individual diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease or other related dementia. (HB2, Roll Call #143, 3/30/2011; DHHS, Accessed 21.16)

“Kelly Ayotte’s votes hurt Granite State seniors,” said Zandra Rice Hawkins, executive director of Granite State Progress. “Kelly Ayotte’s decision to feature individuals who support privatizing all aspects of Social Security and undermining protections for New Hampshire seniors and their caregivers sends a strong message regarding where her priorities sit.”

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 Granite State Progress is a progressive advocacy organization that addresses issues of immediate state and local concern. Granite State Progress works as a communications hub for the progressive community to provide a strong, credible voice in advancing progressive solutions to critical community problems.

Full Fact Check Citations

Ayotte effectively voted for FY 2012 Ryan Budget, which replaced Medicare with a premium support plan. According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, “CBO also finds that this beneficiary’s [a typical 65-year-old] annual out-of-pocket costs would more than double — from $6,150 to $12,500. In later years, as the value of the voucher eroded, the increase in out-of-pocket costs would be even greater.” [Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, 4/7/11] The Wall Street Journal wrote that “The plan would essentially end Medicare, which now pays most of the health-care bills for 48 million elderly and disabled Americans, as a program that directly pays those bills.” [Wall Street Journal, 4/4/11]

Ayotte effectively voted for the FY2013 Ryan Budget, which replaced Medicare with a voucher program, increased the eligibility age, reopened the donut hole, and repealed the Affordable Care Act. “The budget resolution developed by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) would make significant changes to Medicare. It would replace Medicare’s current guarantee of coverage with a premium-support voucher, raise the age of eligibility from 65 to 67, and reopen the “doughnut hole” in Medicare’s coverage of prescription drugs. Together, these changes would shift substantial costs to Medicare beneficiaries and (with the simultaneous repeal of health reform) leave many 65- and 66-year olds without any health coverage at all.” (Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, 3/28/12) AARP CEO Barry Rand said: “ … the proposal is likely to simply increase costs for beneficiaries while removing Medicare’s promise of secure health coverage — a guarantee that future seniors have contributed to through a lifetime of hard work.” (AARP, Letter to Congress, 3/21/12)

Ayotte voted for FY 2014 Ryan Budget plan which would “replace Medicare’s guarantee of health coverage with a premium-support voucher.” According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, “The Medicare proposals in the 2014 budget resolution developed by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) are essentially the same as those in last year’s Ryan budget.  Once again, Chairman Ryan proposes to replace Medicare’s guarantee of health coverage with a premium-support voucher and raise the age of eligibility for Medicare from 65 to 67.” The vote was largely along party lines; Ayotte voted with Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell. (Senate Vote 46, 3/21/13; Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, 3/15/13)

Ayotte voted for FY 2011 budget with deep cuts to agencies responsible for Alzheimer’s research. In congressional testimony on March 11, 2011, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said that the proposed cuts would mean that “about half of the hundred largest clinical studies including those on cancer and Alzheimer’s would probably be canceled.” (Vote 36, 3/9/11; Politifact, 4/15/11)

Ayotte surrogates Kolodziej and Griffin voted for urging Congress to privatize all aspects of Social Security. Privatizing social security puts at risk benefits for New Hampshire’s current and future retirees. (HCR39, Roll Call #190, 3/21/2012)

Ayotte surrogates Kolodziej and Griffin voted for an Interstate Health Care Compact that – with permission from Congress – would give participating states the authority to opt out of all federal health care protections and programs, including Medicare, Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act. This would have taken away not just all federal oversight, but all federal minimum benefit guarantees and protections for New Hampshire’s most vulnerable populations: states could drop seniors from Medicare coverage, eliminate our Medicaid and CHIP protections for vulnerable children, end Medicaid-sponsored long-term care services for elders and people with disabilities, terminate protections for children with pre-existing conditions, and stop the enforcement of laws protecting medical privacy. A compact state would be free to replace any and all of these previous federal programs and protections with risky and/or inadequate state-based schemes or, if a state so chose, not replace them at all. (HB1560, Roll Call #87, 2/15/2012)

Ayotte surrogates Kolodziej and Griffin voted for suspending funding for the Alzheimer’s disease and related disorders (ADRD) program. The program provides temporary respite services to family members, partners and other informal caregivers who are caring for an individual diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease or other related dementia. (HB2, Roll Call #143, 3/30/2011; DHHS, Accessed 7.21.16)

Shea-Porter Endorsed by the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare

Organization Chooses Shea-Porter Over Guinta for November 4th Election

MANCHESTER—The National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare (NCPSSM), a nonpartisan organization representing millions of members nationwide, has endorsed Carol Shea-Porter for re-election to Congress in New Hampshire’s First District.

ARA -Carol Shea Porter Endorsement 4“As a former social worker, senior center director, and a caregiver to her parents, Carol knows how vital seniors’ earned benefits are, and she’s fighting to protect them. She will keep working to strengthen and defend these programs, and will always oppose Frank Guinta’s reckless plans to voucherize Medicare and cut Social Security,” said Shea-Porter spokeswoman Marjorie Connolly.

NCPSSM President Max Richtman said, “Our nation needs your continued leadership, vision and determination to fight for working families and older Americans. You earned the endorsement of the National Committee because you understand and support the critical roles that Social Security and Medicare play in the retirement and health security of our nation’s older citizens and their families.”

During the 2014 election cycle, Shea-Porter has earned endorsements from a number of senior advocacy groups, including the Alliance for Retired Americans and Senior Votes Count.

Full text of the NCPSSM Endorsement Letter:

Dear Congresswoman Shea-Porter:

The National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare, on behalf of its millions of members and supporters, enthusiastically endorses your candidacy for re-election to the United States House of Representatives.

Our nation needs your continued leadership, vision and determination to fight for working families and older Americans. You earned the endorsement of the National Committee because you understand and support the critical roles that Social Security and Medicare play in the retirement and health security of our nation’s older citizens and their families. You are well-prepared to serve the needs of seniors and their families and will continue to make the preservation of Social Security and Medicare a priority in office.

You understand that renewed calls to privatize Social Security would undermine the nation’s most successful social insurance program. You appreciate that Social Security has not contributed to the nation’s debt and that its modest benefits are earned and should not be cut in order to reduce spending. You recognize fully that Medicare is crucial to the health of older Americans, many of whom cannot afford higher out-of-pocket costs that some in Congress are calling for as a way of reducing federal spending while doing nothing to restrain general health care inflation. You appreciate that steps already have been taken to extend the viability of Medicare, to close the prescription drug “donut hole,” to provide preventive services without copays and deductibles, and that these noteworthy improvements should not be repealed. National Committee members and supporters want you to protect and enhance Social Security and Medicare – the twin pillars necessary to a good qualify of life for Americans of all ages – in the United States House of Representatives.

There is no membership in the nation more aware or active politically than the men and women who proudly are associated with the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare. National Committee members know they can count on you!

Sincerely,

Max Richtman
President/CEO
Chairman, NCPSSM-PAC Board of Directors

Wondering Where Your Retirement Has Gone?

 

If you’re wondering what happened to your retirement security, then you really need to read the NY Times excerpt from “The Wolf Hunters of Wall Street.”

The same system that once gave us subprime-mortgage collateralized debt obligations no investor could possibly truly understand now gave us stock-market trades involving fractions of a penny that occurred at unsafe speeds using order types that no investor could possibly truly understand…

“It was so insidious because you couldn’t see it,” Katsuyama says. “It happens on such a granular level that even if you tried to line it up and figure it out, you wouldn’t be able to do it. People are getting screwed because they can’t imagine a microsecond.”

…Even giant investors simply had to take it on faith that Goldman Sachs or Merrill Lynch acted in their interests, despite the obvious financial incentives not to do so.

“Giant investors” would include – yes, that’s right – public pension trust funds.

Like the NH Retirement System Trust Fund… which was 100% funded, as recently as 1999.

Or Detroit’s public pension systems, which were fully funded as recently as 2008 – but are now being used as the “reason” that the City “has” to go through bankruptcy.

Wonder where your retirement has gone?

Read about Wall Street’s “dark pools”… then get really, really mad.

Is Detroit REALLY “broke”? Because The Math Does Not Add Up

Louis-Philippe Duc d' Orleans Saluting His Army on the BattlefieldCan’t help wondering about this scenario.

The City of Detroit owns one of the finest art museums in the world.  On Wednesday, Christie’s auction house released its appraisal of… just 5% of Detroit’s artwork.  According to Christie’s, that small fraction of the collection is worth somewhere between $452 and $866 million.  Earlier, outside experts had given a ballpark estimate of $2.5 billion – for just 38 of the museum’s 66,000 pieces.

But Detroit can’t afford to pay its retirees’ pensions?

Far more troubling is the fact that the city apparently didn’t seek federal grant money before seeking bankruptcy.

Imagine yourself in the shoes of Kevyn Orr, the “Emergency Manager” that Governor Rick Snyder appointed back in March.  If YOU were walking into a place that was in fiscal trouble, wouldn’t you look around for revenues?  (Anybody else remember “Mediscam”?)

Yeah, well, that’s apparently NOT what Kevyn Orr did.

Back in September, federal officials identified more than $300 million in grant monies that Detroit was eligible for… but somehow… hadn’t gotten.

Democratic  Sen. Carl Levin: “There are dozens and dozens of programs available – some they haven’t applied for… some have been granted and are simply sitting there waiting for the city to do what they need to be doing.”

Yep, that’s what he said: “simply sitting there, waiting for the city” (which is now headed by Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr) to do what needs to be done.

Think about all the press stories you’ve seen, about Detroit’s financial situation.  Then look at the money that was “simply sitting there” waiting for federal officials to point it out:

  • Public safety concerns? Turns out there was $28 million in federal money available to hire police and firefighters, purchase equipment and pay for programs.  Plus about another $2 million available from private foundations.
  • Public transportation issues?  There was more than $130 million in federal money to repair buses, install security cameras and expand service to areas outside the city.  Plus another $3.3 million in private foundation monies.
  • Neighborhood blight?  More than $85 million in federal money to rehab (or demolish) housing units, clean up brownfields and otherwise fight blight.  Plus another $13 million from private foundations.
  • Bleak future?  Federal officials identified another $32 million in private grant monies to help Detroit plan for its future, upgrade its technology, train its residents and bring retail and creative industries back to the city.

Now, think again about Mediscam.  In New Hampshire, public officials faced with fiscal problems got (ahem) “creative” in order to maximize federal funds.

But in Detroit, Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr left more than $300 million in grant monies… sitting there.

Now, let’s look one more level down.

All the press reports about Detroit focus on that “$18 billion” of total debt.  That includes not just pensions and retiree health care liabilities, but also all the usual long term bonds that large municipalities have (about $3.7 trillion total, nationwide).

In a bankruptcy proceeding, the question shouldn’t be “How much does Detroit owe?”  The question SHOULD be “Can Detroit afford to pay its bills?”

And – with different political leadership – the answer to that question could easily be “yes”.

At the end of each fiscal year, public entities prepare a “Combined Annual Financial Report” that provides useful information about their finances.  Detroit hasn’t released its 2013 CAFR yet (even though the fiscal year ended more than five months ago).  But here’s what Detroit’s auditors said, in their 2012 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report:  “The City has an accumulated unassigned deficit in the General Fund of $326.6 million as of June 30, 2012, which has resulted from operating deficits over the last several years.”

So… as I do the math… those operating deficits have been accumulating over several years… but just ONE year’s worth of those grants (which have been “just sitting there”)… could almost completely offset that accumulated deficit.

Whoa… without even touching that art collection?  (And without restoring state revenue-sharing that was cut under Governor Rick Snyder?)

Maybe it’s just me… but I can’t help suspecting there is something else going on here, OTHER than fixing Detroit’s finances.

 

 

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