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Thursday, 20 December 2012

President Obama Betrays Elders

category_bug_politics.gif Depending on the newsletters you subscribe to, perhaps you too have been swamped with email this week from Democratic and Progressive organizations.

There is a good reason: two days ago President Barack Obama, in fiscal cliff negotiations with House Speaker John Boehner, sold out elders by offering - offering without being asked, not forced in any way - to change how Social Security cost-of-living increases (COLAs) are calculated by switching to the chained CPI which reduces the the amount of the increase.

Good god. Does he think elders out here are getting rich? The average Social Security benefit is about $1230 dollars a month. That's little enough but remember, it's average. Millions of the old, disabled and military veterans live on less – so little, in fact, that even a $10 reduction in their monthly check means they will skip more meals than they already do.

This is not a “tweak” as the president has said; it is a cut and it affects the poorest elders most of all.

Politicians make enough money that they have no idea $10 a month could make a real difference to anybody. Someone needs to tell them but I'm pretty sure they wouldn't believe it – including the president.

One way the Village talks about inflation and Social Security is to state that elders have higher health care costs than younger adults. That's often true which begs the question, why is the president offering to cut old people's income?

And what no one ever mentions is that everything else costs more every year too and the COLA always, always falls short. Personal example:

Next year, my Social Security benefit increases by about $32 a month. But I just finished calculating what my monthly nut will be for 2013, the fixed expenses that I can do nothing to change: homeowners association dues, power, health coverage including Medicare Part B ($5 increase for most of us), Medicare Supplemental and Medicare drugs, telephone, etc. My monthly expenses will go up by slightly above $100.

That's right, about three times what my income rise is. And that has been so, usually a somewhat smaller amount, every year since I signed up for Social Security in 2006.

Like every previous year, I am wondering how soon it will be that I cannot easily absorb the increase in expenses anymore and still eat.

I say that but it is not imminent; I am in infinitely better financial shape than the elders who, frighteningly, live on $700, $800, $900 a month. Even now they cannot eat without the many services provided by local government and non-profit organizations that work hard to help. But it is never enough.

And now, the president wants to cut a few dollars from these elders' income so that they “share the burden” with plutocrats who have been getting million dollar payoffs year after year after year with outsized salaries and special income tax rates useful only for high earners.

As every honest person knows, Social Security has nothing to do with the budget or the fiscal cliff. Nothing. There are plenty of other ways to save money in the federal budget and Richard Eskow at the Campaign for America's Future has eight of them. Take a look.

I know I ask a lot of you and I worry all the time when I ask you to write or call your representatives that I sound like Chicken Little. But geez – these #$%^& people in Washington will just not lay off the poor and the old.

In addition to the president, now House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi has decided to stick it to old people: “I consider it a strengthening of Social Security,” she said yesterday of the chained CPI.

So I'm asking you again. Please call today. Please. Tell the White House and your senators and representative that the chained CPI in unfair and unacceptable.

• White House phone: 202.456.1111
White House email
• NCPSSM Hotline: 800.998.0180 (for all Congress members)
• Firedoglake has direct phone numbers for all Congress members

And here is a script for you from Bold Progressives:

Hi, my name is [NAME] and I'm calling from [TOWN, STATE]. During the election, Democrats like Representative [NAME] promised to protect Social Security benefits.

As a constituent, I want [NAME] to keep [HIS/HER] promise and publicly oppose any White House deal to cut Social Security, Medicare, or Medicaid benefits. That includes cutting cost of living adjustments.

Can you tell Rep. [NAME] that I want [HIM/HER] to oppose the president's proposed benefit cuts?

[Answer]

Thank you. And can you please tell your press secretary that I called and asked Rep. [NAME] to make a public statement opposing benefit cuts?

[Answer]

Thank you.

Please, please call today, not just for us but for everyone who pays into Social Security now. For our children. For our grandchildren. Let's overwhelm the White House and Congress with our voices.


At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Marc Leavitt: Is It Time to Go?


Posted by Ronni Bennett at 05:30 AM | Permalink | Email this post

Comments

Thanks, Ronni. POTUS, Nancy, et al., have gone psycho. I just emailed the White House, tailoring the text you provided. Glad the message form allows an "International" type identity. As an ex-pat, I'm not sure I can name the elected reps of my former state of residence as my reps. Would you or any readers know?

@Tamar: if you can remember a US zipcode, enter it here <http://www.house.gov/representatives/find/> to find a Congressperson from that area and claim long ties with the region. Should be adequate.

My Congressperson is Nancy Pelosi who, as a good soldier, will lead the betrayal if called upon. She's pretty accessible though. It looks as if this may not happen before the New Year. Most of them come home for Xmas -- they may need visits.

I tried 3 times to reach 202-456-1111 and got a recording that this number is not in service at this time. I will e-mail the message.

I just tried the White House number 202-456 1414 and got the same recording. The system must be swamped with protests.

I wrote an e-mail but used my own words of protest. I hope the elders are stirring up a hornet's nest in the Oval Office.

I am certainly going to do whaty you suggest as soon as soon as I finish writing this. But (yes, yes, I know -- I always sound so negative -- but I'm usually right) I don't think it will change things. Our country is not being run by the government. It's being run by the 1% (and for the most part, we don't know they are), big corporations (oil, pharma). People/businesses who/that we can't begin to fight against. /// And, Ronnie, as for not knowing if you will eventually be able to eat, we all will do whatever we have to do to survive. Such as get one or two roommates. Such as living in a much less expensive house/apt. (Even more back it with our adult children -- I think I'd rather not eat.) Far from ideal for those of us who love living alone, but if that's what it takes for us to survive, we will do it.

I also emailed and used my own words of protest. I am totally beyond disgust. I am going to start researching less expensive places, outside of the U.S., to live out what's left of my life.

I'm furious about this. I voted for the Dems because they promised not to do this!

I do all my letter-writing to Congress and the president at Congress.org. Compose one letter and it goes to all your reps in Washington.

I'm going now to write to them about this -- again!

It is unbelievable. Obama is such a disappointment. For where I live, Northern CA, my income is considered UNDER poverty level. I do some freelance work but haven't gotten any in four months now. The last two weeks of every month are devoid of fruits and veggies, and clean clothes and many other common niceties of middle-class life. Obama is a major sell-out.

Let's exercise a little reason here. Of all the concessions Obama could have made, this is the least onerous. And there ARE those safety net programs for the most needy. We all know SS was never meant to be our entire income in retirement, and many of us have already outlived the monies we paid into the system.

An unpleasant analogy could be made to locusts; our numbers are growing beyond the resources available to sustain us. The working poor are paying the same percentage of their dollars as the wealthy for their future benefits, and there aren't enough of them to support us.

I'm content with this compromise. Fran is correct - we'll adjust. And maybe I'll finally shed that extra 15 lbs my current income allows me to carry.

Thank you!!!!

I'm one of those who will be hurt badly by this. I worked very hard -- as did many other elders to re-elect Obama because he promised to preserve Medicare and Medicaid. For me, losing either or both is a death sentence.

And to Lauren: You obviouusly have never had to deal with the safety net. It's a disaster in itself.

Hello,

I emailed the White House and my Democratic Senator, but I think the effort may be futile. but then again, one must try.

I have been writing to the White House every day -- to no avail -- to remind the POTUS why we re-elected him and it wasn't for this. I look at photos of the President and he looks haggard and tired, but so am I. I'm hesitant to say that our emails just wind up in the circular file(waste basket), but I sure haven't noticed any reaction from the White House.

I phoned/mailed all a wk ago....Dare I say "you" et al wanted him (Obama) & Pelosi..."Who are the friends of seniors and the poor now?" Independent party Yankee woman just say'n...

Been there, done that. Contacting my senator, congressman, and even the President. But Pelosi saying the Dems will stand behind the President and the chained CPI. Where's that woman's email address. I got something to say to her too.

My parents wil be in a world of financial hurt if this chained CPI passes. Which means two things for me. Save a bucket load of money to supplement their monthly income, and get a second job just so I can afford my meager lifestyle. I'm not retired yet, but if Boehner had his tax reduction plan B way his millionaire buddies will save, I think I read 50,000 a year. That's just a little under what I make as a teacher whose worked almost 25 years. Seems I have the wrong job. According to Boehner.

Social security was not designed as a retirement plan, hence was never intended to be something the government said you could live on. Could I live on my monthly social security check? No, and it wasn't ever presented that way. People that failed to save a dime for retirement are always disappointed in expecting social security to be something it isn't.

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