AARP launched a national ad campaign last week "urging Congress and Mr. Obama to take Social Security and Medicare off the table." Here's one of the ads:
They might have to up the buy on that ad, now that the Gang of Six proposal seems to be gaining steam as the preferred solution to the debt ceiling debacle, at least in the Senate and possibly the White House. The organization registered its strong disapproval of the proposal in a statement issued Wednesday. Arguing that the proposal makes "dramatic cuts to health care, long-term care that would hurt older Americans today and in the future," AARP Executive Vice President Nancy LeaMond expresses the organization's disapproval [via e-mail]:
"While details about the latest bipartisan deficit reduction plan are limited, we remain concerned that the latest proposal from the 'Gang of Six' would cut deeply into Social Security and Medicare benefits as part of a deal to pay the nation’s bills. As an example, more than one-fifth of the immediate deficit reduction savings outlined in yesterday’s proposal will come from reducing Social Security benefits by lowering the cost of living adjustment (COLA) immediately. Social Security did not cause the deficit, and cutting Social Security benefits should not be on the table as an option to reduce the deficit.
"Specific proposals such as the chained CPI should not be considered as part of the debt ceiling or deficit reduction negotiations. As the chained CPI would result in a lower COLA each year, reducing the COLA even by a small amount is a harmful cut for many retirees. Any discussion of proposals that would affect Social Security should occur only in a separate debate on strengthening Social Security and improving retirement security, not on balancing the budget.
"We also strongly oppose repealing the CLASS program, which will give Americans a new option to plan and pay for the costs of long-term care.
"This proposal also appears to call for hundreds of billions of dollars in additional health care cuts to Medicare, threatening the health security of older Americans. Significant savings were already achieved as part of the new health care law, and additional cuts of this magnitude would increase costs of seniors and negatively impact quality and access to health care providers and services. We believe the best way to hold down costs in Medicare is to hold down costs throughout the health care system, with a particular emphasis on delivery system reform.
“Requiring Medicare beneficiaries to pay even more out of their own pockets for health care will do nothing to lower the costs of Medicare—the proposal simply puts additional burdens on seniors, who are already struggling to pay for their health care needs.
The message from their ads? "With billions in waste and loopholes, how could they look at us? Maybe we seem like an easy target—until you realize there are 50 million of us." Hopefully those 50 million mobilize with some phone calls.
You can use the number even if you aren't a member, or you can sign the petition to join with Daily Kos and Bernie Sanders to oppose cutting Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid benefits. Of course, you can also do both.