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Summit Protecting Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and Veterans' Benefits

Speakers for the Summit on Protecting Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and veterans' benefits:

1. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT)
2. Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI)
3. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI)
4. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA)
5. Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN)
6. Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-AZ)
7. Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR)
8. Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI)
9. Ed Coyle, Executive Director of the Alliance for Retired Americans to introduce three senior citizens:
10. Jody Weinrich - Allentown, PA -
11. Martin Walsh - St. Louis County, MO
12. Martina Alvarado - San Antonio, TX


Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT), the Defending Social Security Caucus, the Alliance for Retired Americans, the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare, and the Strengthen Social Security Campaign invite you to speak at a summit to protect Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and veterans' benefits.

Date: Wednesday, May 8th
Time: 12:30 PM
Location: 902 Hart Senate Office Building

Please join with every major organization representing senior citizens, working families, veterans, women, and persons with disabilities in support of protecting Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid benefits.

The summit will highlight the growing opposition to cutting Cost of Living Adjustments (COLAs) for Social Security and disabled veterans.

- Under the chained CPI, average 65-year-old retirees would lose $658 a year in Social Security benefits by their 75th birthday, $1,147 by their 85th birthday, and $1,622 by their 95th birthday.

- The chained CPI would cut the benefits of more than 3.2 million disabled veterans in this country. Permanently disabled veterans who started receiving disability benefits from the VA at age 30 would see their benefits cut by more than $1,400 a year at age 45, $2,300 a year at age 55 and $3,200 a year at age 65.

- The chained CPI also would amount to an across-the-board tax increase on working families. More than three-quarters of the new revenue raised by the year 2021 under the chained CPI would come from Americans making less than $200,000 a year. Those making between $30,000 and $40,000 would be hit the hardest.

Many thanks to the Social Security Works group for the heads up information about this event!

From Bernie Sanders' web site:

Democrats Defect on Obama Budget The majority of Senate Democrats running in 2014, including three from red states, have broken with President Obama and are opposing his effort to cut Social Security benefits. “The only way you beat right-wing Republicans is contrasting your views with theirs, Sen. Bernie Sanders said Tuesday on The Ed Show. “You’ve got to stand up and fight for a middle class which is disappearing. You have to have the guts to take on the big-money interests and say, ‘No. We’re not going to balance the budget on the backs of an elderly woman in Vermont living on $15,000 a year.’”

Social Security Summit Sen. Sanders and members of the Senate Defending Social Security Caucus will host a summit on Wednesday to discuss legislative and grassroots efforts to protect Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and veterans’ benefits, according to The Associated Press Daybook.

From MassLive:
On another budget-related issue, Warren is getting involved with a coalition of groups focused on preserving Social Security benefits. Democratic President Barack Obama has proposed a budget that would change the way the government calculates cost-of-living adjustments for Social Security beneficiaries and other government programs by using a formula called “chained CPI,” or chained consumer price index. The end result would be to lower Social Security benefits. Warren and other Democrats have opposed the proposal.

Warren on Wednesday plans to join eight senators – seven Democrats and Vermont independent Bernie Sanders – participating in a summit in Washington, D.C. aimed at preserving Social Security benefits. The Alliance for Retired Americans and the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare will also participate in the event, which will highlight opposition to the use of chained CPI to calculate Social Security benefits.

[Emphasis added]

News about the other summit, held at the Peter G. Peterson Foundation yesterday. Note that this article was published in the Fiscal Times, also funded by Pete Peterson.  It's also interesting that Bill Clinton and Bill Gates attended this summit.
On Tuesday, five of Washington’s biggest budget players appeared on stage in Washington to offer their takes on the nation’s finances. But in a telling sign of just how far apart President Obama and congressional Republicans are, each of them appeared alone. They answered questions individually and never shared the spotlight at The Fiscal Summit sponsored by the Peter G. Peterson Foundation.
But if the past is prologue, then any compromise will be tied to averting yet another government-made crisis. The government’s $16.4 trillion of borrowing authority technically maxes out on May 18, although the Treasury can likely employ a number of financial maneuvers to keep the government afloat through late summer or early fall.  “The president has been very clear – he’s not negotiating on the debt limit,” Sperling said yesterday. “When the president saw what happened in 2011, saw the hit to confidence, the hit to our economy, the hit to our standing, I think he made the right decision--which is that he is simply not going to negotiate on the deficit.”
Portman added that with lawmakers facing reelection next year, they almost certainly will want to get budget and debt ceiling negotiations out of the way this year. “This year is deal or bust,” he said.

From HuffPo.  Ryan says a grand bargain is not likely, but our Congress and White House are infamous for making rotten deals in July or December, when they think most people aren't paying attention and when they can soon skip town for their vacations, the August recess or the holiday recess and coming back weeks later.  At this point, nobody can seem to determine when deficit limit has to be raised.  Is it May 18? Is is August? Is it October?
WASHINGTON -- On this, some of Washington's highest-ranking budget players can agree: A "grand bargain" this year to close the nation's chronic budget deficits seems like a long shot.

That was the consensus at an annual Washington "fiscal summit" thrown by billionaire deficit hawk Pete Peterson, who's staked $1 billion of his fortune on a foundation aimed at raising public awareness of the dangers of the government's growing debt.
"A `grand bargain' implies you're going to fix the problem, but when you have the majority party in Washington unwilling to embrace the kinds of reforms that make Medicare solvent or make Social Security solvent ... I don't see a grand bargain happening," said House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., a frequent attendee at Peterson's event.
Appearing a few minutes later, Ryan's counterpart as top Democrat on the Budget panel offered a similarly pessimistic assessment.

"There is no evidence that we are getting closer to an agreement," said Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md.
Ryan and Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, said an upcoming need to increase the government's borrowing cap could provide the impetus for any potential agreement. But it's increasingly looking as though the deadline for increasing the so-called debt limit won't come until October instead of August, adding months of further budget delays.

Ed Markey Runs Against Obama’s Proposed Social Security Cut

"Tell Obama," declared Ed Markey in the subject line of a Tuesday email to supporters. "Don't cut Social Security."

The Democratic nominee for Senate in Massachusetts is mobilizing his supporters against a proposal in President Obama's budget to reduce the growth of Social Security by cutting future benefits. The policy, known as Chained CPI, is opposed by progressives and even some conservative Democrats.

"You could think of 'CPI' as meaning 'Cutting Peoples' Income,'" Markey wrote, attacking President Obama for making a "wrong-headed move" on the cherished retirement program.

Republicans Sean Duffy, Phil Gingrey Oppose Obama's Social Security Cut

WASHINGTON -- Two House Republicans have told constituents they oppose proposed cuts to Social Security and veterans benefits by reducing the cost of living adjustment, according to letters they sent to constituents. President Barack Obama included the plan, known as chained CPI, in his annual budget, but specified that he was only offering it as a concession to entice Republicans into a compromise. For Reps. Phil Gingrey (R-Ga.) and Sean Duffy (R-Wis.), however, the concession is itself objectionable.

A HuffPost/YouGov poll conducted in December found that 16 percent of Americans said the proposal to switch to chained CPI was a good idea, while 54 percent said it was a bad idea. And the proposal was unpopular across the political spectrum, with 56 percent of Republicans, 67 percent of Democrats and 46 percent of independents saying they thought the proposal was a bad idea.

Liveblog Updates:

Maria Roche from WeActRadio interviews Henny Kelly with the Alliance for Retired Americans.  She came in from California.  "Social Security hasn't made our debt any bigger.... we are afraid that the president is using social Security as part of a grand bargain... going to make it harder for seniors to buy food and medicine and to live in dignity. We are here because we believe in Social Security and we believe in it for you, for our grandchildren..."

Maria: Why is the conversation switching to social security when discussing cutting spending?

Henny: SS is fully funded and has a 2.6 trillion dollar surplus... if we want it to increase further... scrap the cap... keep it going for 75 years.... keep it going for you and your children, me and my children and grandchildren

Maria: What do you find surprising about all of this?

Henny: It is so surprising that it is coming from a Democrat... it is very upsetting... you should never bargain with Social Security.... social contract.

[Maria introduces Daniel Marrens from Social Security Works]

Daniel: we're unfortunately calling that the great betrayal... those cuts bite and if you look at cumulative cuts, you're looking at something like $28,000 by age 95.

Maria: people are flying across the country, traveling quite a distance to come here today... what do you hope to achieve, Daniel?

Daniel: members of congress on both sides of the aisle are very hesitant.. particularly for today's beneficiaries... swell of support for Social Security... over 100 dems against, over 40 who say they will vote against... many saying to president "don't do this"

12:30pm: [Maria introduces Frank]

Frank: this has been a 30+ year effort by radical right... clearly beneficiary of changing SS would be Wall Street... the people who don't want to pay taxes... don't want to pay their fair share, powerful interests, making the rest of us pay... how else could you justify making people who make small amount of money while cutting taxes for those who make 400K or more... obscene

Daniel: Chained CPI another way of saying Cutting People's Income.

[I'm using the hashtag #SocSecSummit

[Bernie Sanders coming to kick things off]

Bernie thanks Social Security Works, Moveon, Campaign for America's Future, AARP, AFL-CIO, Latinos for a Secure Retirement, Paralyzed Veterans of America and all the other groups. We are bringing together a coalition of senior groups, women's groups, veterans... we are going to change America... today's meeting is pretty simple. We are sending a very loud message to the leadership of House, Senate, White House... at a time when middle class disappearing, people struggling, Do Not Cut Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, veterans benefits.  If you want to go forward with deficit reduction start asking corps with record breaking profits to start paying their fair share... have more income inequality since great depression, start asking those getting all the new earnings to pay their fair share... end the loopholes that allow corps and rich to stash their money in the Cayman Islands.  All of you know that SS has not contributed a nickel to the deficit. Despite what you see on tv tonight, SS is not bankrupt... if we want to save SS I know a way to do it.... save SS not by cutting benefits to seniors struggling to stay alive on 15K a year... save SS by lifting the cap...

Some say chained CPI is just a little TWEAK... it ain't a tweak of you're living on 15K a year... if you are a disabled veteran means tens of thousands in your lifetime and in this country we are not going to balance the budget on the backs of people who lost their legs and arms defending this country

We are going to win this struggle... majority of Americans are on our side... our job... rally the grassroots.. put pressure on members of Congress.. tell them if they choose to cut SS/M/M they do it at the peril of their reelection.  Some great members, let me start bringing them up.... Jack Reed

Jack Reed:  want to thank our leader in this, Bernie Sanders... Sen. Whitehouse could not be here.. on floor of Senate... got to save SS/M/M... this is difference between being in middle class, staying in middle class, retiring with dignity... chained CPI... some saying this is just a technical change blah blah blah (audience laughs)... that's not a marginal technical correction, tha's a life changing... also applied to tax brackets... have to pull together starting today... across this land... say those who are benefitting from extraord. success of this system should contrib, but don't punish working people

(Bernie introduces Al Franken)

12:50pm: Franken: This is personal to me... wife was 17 mos old when father died in a car accident... widow with 5 kids... they made it with SS survivor benefits... 1983, 93% of income was subject to FICA, now only 83%... that's what needs to be changed... cutting retirement benefits, this is wrong...  woman came up to me, said "at my age, everything is pre-existing (audience)

[Bernie introduces Elizabeth Warren]

Warren: I love being here with you.. this is not a fight about money, this is a fight about values.... cutting SS. chained CPI makes no sense at all... we are better than that... we wouldn't let our govt repeal SS and we won't let it dismantle it inch by inch... current cost of living understates true cost of living for our seniors... chained CPI is the way to take a problem and make it worse... we will not do this...  this isn't a handout, this is something people pay for and now depend on... for more than 75 years ss has been a critical part of all we do... it's personal to me. I remember in my own family, my aunt Bee getting her SS check... it was about her independence... she had paid in and was a working woman all her life... made her independent, strong, proud.

[Bernie introduces Rep. DeFazio]

DeFazio: seniors should actually have CPI-E... by the time you reach 85, you've lost 16 weeks of food budget at that point... they talk about substitution, .. steak, pasta (someone in audience says "catfood", laughter) ... if you cut the benefit of every future retiree you would extend the life of the trust fund for 2 years... if you raise cap, extend future of SS forever...

[Bernie introduces, Jan Schakowsky]

1:02pm: This is a mighty coalition.. letter signed by more than half progressive caucus... I want to make three other points... winning fight on chained CPI is not enough... have to prevent other cuts to medicare and medicaid... this is part of our fight against income inequality... don't give me that about the age... if you are a poor woman in the US your lifespan has decreased... has only increased for the wealthy

1:15pm: (Many otherspeakers, great job done by all)

Originally posted to Social Security Defenders on Wed May 08, 2013 at 09:05 AM PDT.

Also republished by Pushing back at the Grand Bargain and Invisible People.

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