Unless it happened overnight while I was sleeping, there has been no movement in Washington on the payroll tax holiday. The president was seen on television saying again that his tax cut deal is good for America, but that is demonstrably not so for today's and future elders.
The tax cut holiday which I wrote about yesterday, is a Social Security disaster, the first step in Republicans' decades-long desire to destroy the program. Democratic Senator Bernie Sanders is fighting the good fight against this proposal:
“Make no mistake about it,” he said...”this cut will only embolden Republican attempts to privatize the program and increase the age of retirement. Social Security is a vital safety net for all Americans and a cornerstone of our commitment to protect the middle class.”
There is a good story about the payroll holiday with input from a number of Washington legislators by Ryan Grim at Huffington Post.
If you have not contacted your Congressional representatives, please please do so today. There are some reports that a vote on the Obama/Republican tax cut proposal could come as early as today or tomorrow.
You can find instructions on how to write your representatives in yesterday's TGB post.
For the first time in the history of Social Security, there is no cost-of-living increase (COLA) for two years running. The proposal for a one-time payment of $250 in 2011 was shot down in the House and The National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare (NCPSSM) reported yesterday that someone in Washington had said the $250 payment is too generous.
Really? The fact is that health care costs are soaring and they take up a larger share of income for elders than most younger people.
I've just finished an analysis my end-of-year/new year finances and it's not a pretty picture for 2011:
• Medicare Supplemental Coverage: 13.2 percent increase
• Part D Prescription Drug Coverage: 40.5 percent increase (and that's the least expensive coverage available in my state)
• Broadband internet access: 60.5(!) percent increase
• Homeowners association dues: .92 percent increase
The dollar increase for these items is slightly under $1000 annually on total fixed costs for 2011 of $13,874.
What is not included in this budget is gasoline which, where I live, has increased by 20 cents per gallon in the past month or two.
Nor have I counted food. According to the federal government, food prices are steady and some have dropped. Well, not at my markets. I eat only occasional, small amounts of meat and chicken, so the cost of produce is my prime interest.
Two days ago, the price of a pound of green beans, $3.99 a pound, gave me heartburn. Thank god I like Brussels sprouts; they're only $1.99 a pound.
Aside from Part D coverage, which I carry only because who knows what might happen to one's health in the future, I have little personal experience with prescription drug prices. I use one generic which I will stop soon and pay only $12 for a three-month supply at a local chain pharmacy.
But an AARP study released last August, shows retail prices for brand-name prescription drugs have far outstripped inflation for the years from 2005 through 2009. From AARP's story about their report:
”For those taking drugs for a chronic condition, the average retail cost of brand-name medications in 2005 — the year before Medicare Part D was implemented — was $1,049. By 2009, that had jumped about 32 percent to $1,382.
"'The coverage of drugs under Part D was supposed to help give access to people who could not afford them," Schondelmeyer says. 'But the drug prices have gone up since Part D began; they haven't gone down. We thought these plans would negotiate better prices, but they haven't.'”
Here is AARP's chart of prescription drug price increases compared to inflation:
Combine that with increases like my personal budget demonstrates and no one can argue there has been no inflation, especially for elders.
I don't have many needs beyond normal expenses and I will be fine in 2011, but not for many more years if I continue to see increases like those above.
How does next year look for you financially? (No money details necessary.)
At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Steve Kemp - LONG-LOST NEWS: It's Official: Eat, Drink and Be Merry!