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Retirees Launch Campaign to Protect Medicare from Privatization

Washington, DC – Alarmed by the House Congressional Leadership’s plans to dismantle Medicare, the Alliance for Retired Americans today kicked off a grass roots campaign to block any attempts to cut or convert guaranteed, earned health benefits into a voucher or privatized scheme. Speaker Paul Ryan and Rep. Tom Price, whom President-elect Trump will nominate to be Secretary of Health and Human Services, both said that they were moving to “reform” Medicare in the next Congress.  

“Alliance members will use all the tools at our disposal to stop any plan to replace our guaranteed earned Medicare benefits with a system of ‘Coupon-care’ vouchers,” said Richard Fiesta, executive director of the Alliance. 

Today the Alliance joined allies in delivering more than one million petitions against the Republican plan to cut and privatize Medicare to House Speaker Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

Before delivering the petitions, Fiesta spoke at a Capitol Hill news conference with Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer, House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, Sen. Bernie Sanders and Representatives Jan Schakowsky and Ted Deutch. Representatives from several other advocacy groups also spoke against cuts to Medicare. 

Alliance members will be directly lobbying members of Congress and Senators in Washington and in their home districts and stating their opposition to efforts to gut Medicare and Medicaid. More than 100 meetings have been planned so far, and the organization expects to reach 200 offices over the next few weeks.

The Alliance will also campaign online and feature dozens of personal stories about why Medicare’s guaranteed benefits are so important on its website, www.retiredamericans.org, and social media.

 “Our members are irate. They paid into the Medicare system for decades, and heard President-elect Trump repeatedly promise to protect their earned health care benefits. We will fight tooth and nail to protect Medicare from all those who try to turn the earned benefits of Medicare into Coupon-care,” said Fiesta. “Medicare must be protected, preserved and expanded for future generations, not dismantled.”

Senate Republicans Block A Vote On Raising The Federal Minimum Wage

Sen. Mitch Mcconnell (Image Gage Skidmore CC-FLIKR)

Sen. Mitch Mcconnell (Image Gage Skidmore CC-FLIKR)

Once again Senate Republicans blocked a vote on the the Minimum Wage Fairness Act in a 54-42 vote.

“Washington Democrats’ true focus these days seems to be making the far left happy, not helping the middle class,” said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky as he voted to block legislation that would lift millions of Americans out of poverty.

According to the AP, Senator Bob Corker (R-TN) was the only republican with the fortitude to do the right thing and vote for the increase.  Over 70% of Americans support raising the minimum wage and yet the legislation was blocked by only six Republican Senators.

Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA) told the AP in a statement:

“Raising the minimum wage is about giving hard-working people a chance at economic mobility. Millions of Americans who work full time making minimum wage and support a family live under the poverty level. This legislation would help those hard-working Americans lift themselves out of poverty and earn wages they can spend in their communities, stimulating economic activity and job creation.”

Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) Co-Chairs Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.) and Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) released the following statement today after Senate Republicans blocked a bill to increase the federal minimum wage to $10.10 and increase the tipped minimum wage:

“We are deeply disappointed that Republicans in the House and Senate continue to fight for the world’s biggest corporations and ignore working families who can’t survive on $14,500 a year. The cost of food and childcare has increased, while the minimum wage is lower than it was in 1968 after calculating for inflation.

“A stagnant federal minimum wage is a stain on our nation. It tells working Americans putting in fifty or sixty hours a week that it doesn’t matter how hard they work—they will never get ahead. Approximately 28 million people would see a pay increase if we increased the minimum wage to $10.10 and 900,000 would be lifted out of poverty. Raising the minimum is the right choice for American businesses who are starving for customers. It would create a needed increase in economic activity, which allows businesses to grow and hire more people.”

“A fair minimum wage that is enough to put a roof over your head and food on the table should be a basic promise Congress makes to America’s families. Today’s vote is not the last. The Congressional Progressive Caucus will continue to organize and advocate for an increase in the federal minimum wage until President Obama signs the bill.”

This legislation would have lift more than 10,000 Granite Staters out of poverty and resulted in a raise for more than 110,000 Granite Staters, including approximately 67,000 New Hampshire women

Senator Jeanne Shaheen released the following statement:

“It’s disappointing that once again a minority of Senators were able to block action on a plan that has otherwise overwhelming support from the American people. More than 110,000 hardworking Granite Staters deserve the hard-earned raise the Minimum Wage Fairness Act would have provided, and this plan would have also helped create New Hampshire jobs, boosted our economy, and made sure workers could provide for their families.

“New Hampshire workers deserve a fair wage for an honest day’s work, and I will continue fighting to increase the minimum wage so we can strengthen our economy and give hardworking Americans a fair shot at success.”

The fight is far from over, and there is a glimmer of hope to get an increase accomplished.  “Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) has said she and some other senators would be willing to reach a compromise on a lower figure than $10.10.”

 

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