September 05, 2014
Sunday, September 7 is Grandparents Day. In Ohio, Alliance members are celebrating the day with an event in Cortland. In Illinois, Alliance members in the East St. Louis area are celebrating the holiday today with Rep. William Enyart.
“I want to say Happy Grandparents Day to all the grandparents out there,” said Barbara J. Easterling, President of the Alliance. “I know how instrumental so many of you are in raising the youngest members of your family. Children truly look up to you as elder statesmen and stateswomen!” For Census data on grandparents who are raising their grandchildren, go to http://ohioline.osu.edu/ss-fact/0158.html.
Introducing the Koch Sisters…
The AFL-CIO’s new project, “The Koch Sisters,” has officially launched. The project highlights the everyday virtues of two working, union women who share the same last name as the Koch Brothers, but whose beliefs stand in stark contrast. The Koch Sisters campaign will bring the issues most Americans care about – from fair wages to protecting Social Security – to the forefront of the political debate. To see 30- and 60-second ads – which began airing yesterday – from the Koch Sisters campaign, go to http://tinyurl.com/o2lph98 and http://tinyurl.com/l7kj5gz. A link to their website is at http://www.kochsisters.org – sign up to be a Koch sister supporter!
In contrast, Charles and David Koch helped fund 12 different organizations that wrote amicus briefs urging the Supreme Court’s landmark Citizens United ruling of 2010, which lifted restrictions on contributions to independent political groups. With the Citizens United ruling, outside groups began pouring cash into elections. The Kochs’ Americans for Prosperity operation alone is expected to spend at least $125 million on behalf of conservatives in the 2014 campaigns. The Texas Alliance protested against Americans for Prosperity in Dallas last Friday. To see some of the press coverage, go to http://tinyurl.com/q8w6dky.
Pledge to Vote, if You Haven’t Done So Already
House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan and his allies in Congress continue to talk about their plans to dismantle Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. They are trying to fast-track cuts to Social Security, voucherize Medicare, and cut Medicaid benefits. It’s time for them to stop demanding cuts to vital programs for seniors and working families in order to give Wall Street and the wealthiest 2% of Americans a tax break. If you agree that our members of Congress should fight to expand and strengthen our retirement security, not dismantle it inch by inch, please sign our Pledge to Vote at http://tinyurl.com/oob9sse. It says: “I Pledge to Vote Only for Candidates for Congress Who Will Fight to Strengthen and Expand Our Retirement Security.”
More Republican Governors are Accepting Medicaid Funding
The Affordable Care Act includes billions of dollars to expand Medicaid to millions of low-income, uninsured adults, but several Republican governors have not accepted the funding. Last Thursday, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett (R) reached a deal with the Obama administration to extend the state’s Medicaid program to half a million low-income residents there, bringing the country one state closer to the original expansion outlined under Obamacare. However, there are still 23 states that haven’t expanded public health insurance to all of their low-income residents. Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam says the state may soon send a proposal to Washington, while Utah Governor Gary Herbert says he is hopeful about expansion for his state.
According to Mother Jones magazine (http://tinyurl.com/qg576xe), governors who have resisted Medicaid expansion are generally doing poorly, while those who accepted it are polling pretty well. “Health care reform isn’t solely responsible for these polling results – but it seems to be a big factor,” said Richard Fiesta, Executive Director of the Alliance. For a review of which states have not expanded Medicaid and an update on where they stand, go to http://tinyurl.com/oeugrfc.
Projected Medicare Spending Down for 6th Year in a Row
Every year for the last six years in a row, the Congressional Budget Office (C.B.O.) has reduced its estimate for how much the federal government will need to spend on Medicare in coming years. The latest reduction came in a report from the budget office last week (http://tinyurl.com/pgqnqrr). The difference between the current estimate for Medicare’s 2019 budget and the estimate for the 2019 budget four years ago is about $95 billion. The C.B.O. now estimates the United States will spend about $11,300 in 2014 dollars to care for each person in Medicare in 2019. That’s down from around $12,700 since 2010, the year the Affordable Care Act became law.
According to budget analysts, some of the recent reductions in Medicare spending are because of health care reform. The Affordable Care Act, in particular, made significant reductions to Medicare’s spending on hospitals and private Medicare plans, to help subsidize insurance coverage for low- and middle-income Americans. But a great deal of the recent reductions come from changes in behavior among doctors, nurses, hospitals and patients. Medicare beneficiaries are using fewer high-cost health care services than in the past — for example, taking fewer brand-name drugs, or spending less time in the hospital. More from The New York Times is at http://tinyurl.com/pm4m8ts. “I am waiting for the day when we don’t have to sit through more votes on the repeal of the Affordable Care Act,” said Ruben Burks, Secretary-Treasurer of the Alliance.
Social Security Privatization Becomes a Major Topic in the Iowa Senate Race
Social Security is emerging as a key campaign issue in Iowa, where the battle for the seat of retiring Sen. Tom Harkin (D) could decide control of the entire U.S. Senate. On Wednesday, the Republican nominee for the seat, Joni Ernst, told residents of a retiree home in Des Moines that she is open to privatizing Social Security. She is facing Democrat Bruce Braley, who has strongly opposed efforts to privatize Social Security. At an event in Des Moines on Wednesday, Jan Laue, President of the Iowa Alliance, spoke for many when she said, “Any plan that puts guaranteed benefits in jeopardy is a risk Iowans can’t afford, and Ernst wants to follow that dangerous path for both Social Security and Medicare. Ernst is trying to hide her risky proposals that would increase costs and end guaranteed benefits, but Iowa seniors know she’s wrong for Iowa.”