A Temporary Victory for Seniors, Bad Trade Deal Fails to Advance in House

June 12, 2015

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The U.S. House of Representatives failed to advance a Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Fast Track authority legislative package on Friday, handing retirees a temporary victory by a vote of 126-302. President Barack Obama's bid for fast-track trade authority had narrowly cleared a procedural hurdle on Thursday, after a handful of House Democrats joined with pro-trade House Republicans despite provisions harmful to seniors, 217-212.

“Today’s votes in the U.S. House showed that cuts to Medicare are not a viable way to pay for trade legislation," said Richard Fiesta, Executive Director of the Alliance in a statement. “Members of the Alliance worked tirelessly to educate members about this proposal and made their views heard – visiting, phoning and writing their elected officials. Today’s vote sent a strong signal and that is a victory for retirees.”

On Monday, Mr. Fiesta hosted a telepress call about the trade deal with Reps. Doris Matsui (D-CA) and Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), co-chairs of the Congressional Task Force on Seniors and the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare. Mr. Fiesta urged members of the U.S. House to oppose plans to cut a total of $950 million from Medicare to fund the Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) program to assist workers displaced by trade – a key sticking point in the larger controversial debate over whether the House should provide fast track authority for trade deals such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

The Alliance sent a letter to all members of the U.S House on Thursday opposing Medicare cuts to pay for TAA and was one of 2,000 groups that signed another letter against fast-track from the Citizens Trade Campaign to House members and Senators. Alliance chapters also held impassioned rallies outside congressional offices in Texas, North Carolina, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Washington and Maryland to urge members of Congress to protect Medicare benefits from cuts under TAA.

“I am all for funding TAA, but not through cuts to Medicare,” said Ruben Burks, Secretary-Treasurer of the Alliance. “Medicare is not a piggy bank. It is a dangerous precedent to use cuts to Medicare to pay for other, non-health related needs.”

Speakers Named for Alliance’s National Legislative Conference in Washington, DC

The Alliance will hold its National Legislative Conference and Lobby Day in Washington, DC from July 7th - July 10th. In addition to having an opportunity to speak with Members of Congress and their legislative staffs about retirement security, the conference attendees will attend trainings and action sessions that will improve their advocacy skills. Attendees will receive briefings on the latest threats to Social Security and Medicare and discuss ways to strengthen and expand these vital earned benefits.

"With talk of cutting Social Security and Medicare, it is critical that we get our message to protect, strengthen and expand Social Security and Medicare directly to lawmakers and decision makers,” said Mr. Burks.

“We will have skill-building workshops around organizing, effective advocacy, how to communicate your message and leadership development. The conference will lead into our ‘Medicare Turns 50’ events,” said Alliance President Barbara J. Easterling.

This year’s speakers will include AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka; House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (CA); Senators Sherrod Brown (OH) and Elizabeth Warren (MA); Rep. Ruben Gallego (AZ) and White House Conference on Aging Executive Director Nora Super. Additional speakers will be announced when confirmed.

All Alliance members are welcome to attend. Questions? Contact Joni Jones at jjones@retiredamericans.org or 202-637-5377. Ready to register? Sign up for the conference or learn more here. The last day to get the discounted hotel rate is June 19.

Florida Alliance Holds Annual Convention

The Florida Alliance for Retired Americans (FLARA) held its Annual Convention and Quarterly Executive Board Meeting on June 8th and 9th in Orlando. Facebook photos are here.

The Convention celebrated the retirement of outgoing FLARA President Tony Fransetta. “It has been a wonderful 17 years,” Mr. Fransetta said. “Together we have accomplished much. There will always be much more to do.”

Mr. Fiesta spoke, thanking Mr. Fransetta and retiring treasurer Marna Davidson for all they have done to grow the Florida Alliance and for his important work on legislation affecting seniors at both the federal and state level. Fransetta will be succeeded by newly elected President Bill Sauers. Additionally, Bev Curphey was elected Treasurer while Ray Davis will serve in a Vice President position.  

Medicare Turns 50: President Clinton Calls Out GOP Hypocrisy on Medicare Cuts

“When Congressman (Paul) Ryan looked into that TV camera and attacked President Obama’s Medicare savings as quote ‘the biggest coldest power play,’ I don’t know whether to laugh or cry. Because that $716 billion is exactly, to the dollar, the same amount of Medicare savings that he has in his own budget. It takes some brass to attack a guy for doing what you did.” – President Bill Clinton, September 5th, 2012

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