Cross-posted from afl-cio NOW BLOG
By Barbara J Easterling
Alliance of Retired Americans
I believe there are two issues retirees should pay attention to in 2011.
First, Social Security. Last year it celebrated 75 years of keeping seniors out of poverty, but some in Congress see it differently. John Boehner, the new House Speaker, wants us to raise the retirement age to 70. The new Budget Committee chair, Rep. Paul Ryan, wants to cut benefits and turn a privatized system over to Wall Street. Rep. Michele Bachmann, the tea party leader, says Social Security is a “tremendous fraud” and thinks we should “wean” current workers away from it. Even though Social Security has not added a penny to our budget deficit, many on Capitol Hill want to balance the budget on the backs of seniors.
Second, we must protect Medicare. The 2010 health care reform law will help 46 million seniors better afford to see a doctor and fill a prescription. Despite that, there will be a number of efforts in Congress to repeal the new law. Please urge your elected officials to not raise prescription drug costs, take away free preventive screenings for life-threatening diseases or stop a plan to help families with the costs of long-term care. In my opinion, not enough people know how health reform helps them, and this lack of awareness fuels the repeal movement. If we want to keep these new benefits, we must do more to educate our friends and neighbors.
Seniors are increasingly the target of scare tactics and misinformation about these issues, and many retirees tell me how confused they are. In 2011, the Alliance for Retired Americans will do everything we can to help seniors separate fact from fiction.
Ms. Easterling was previously the secretary-treasurer if the Communications Workers of America.
For more information, visit www.retiredamericans.org or call 1-800-333-7212.