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New York Alliance for Retired Americans WNY Chapter of NYSARA
NEW YORK STATE ALLIANCE FOR RETIRED AMERICANS
Stephen Muscarella, President
NYS PEF Retirees
Email: sjmuskie@roadrunner.com

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Union Retiree News From The Alliance For Retired Americans: Social Security Benefits To Go Up Just 1.5% In 2014 & Troubling Trade Deal On The Horizon

Also: Conference Committee Holds Meeting In Advance Of December 13th Budget Deadline, Harry Reid: No Grand Bargain In The Near Future & Key Negotiator Does Not Want To Reduce Medicare Benefits

Published Thursday, November 7, 2013 5:00 pm
by Alliance For Retired Americans

Social Security Benefits To Go Up Just 1.5% In 2014

Social Security Benefits Will Rise by 1.5% Next Year, One of the Smallest Increases Ever in the Program's Annual Cost-Of-Living Adjustment (COLA).  The Increase Is Down From the 1.7% Increase for 2013.  There was No COLA Increase At All in 2010 and 2011, Because Prices Fell during the Recession.  A 3.6% Adjustment in 2012 has been the Only Significant Rise in Benefits in Recent Years.  Alliance For Retired Americans Executive Director Edward Coyle Explained the Context of the COLA Change as it Relates to the Chained CPI, a Formula Proposed by Some Politicians in Order to Reduce Future Social Security COLAs.  “Next Year’s Increase will be 1.5%.  Imagine If It Were ‘Even Less.’  Then Imagine If That Smaller Increase Were to be Compounded Over Time. That’s the Chained CPI,” Coyle said.  Coinciding with the Release of the COLA Figure, Social Security Works Recently Hosted a Conference of Experts and Advocates on Capitol Hill to Discuss the Retirement Income Crisis, the Need to Expand Social Security Benefits, and How to Make It a Reality.  Rich Fiesta, who Serves as Director of Government and Political Affairs for the Alliance, and Alliance Legislative Representative Eva Dominguez, spoke at the Event.  Several Members of the U.S. House and Senate, as well as Representatives from Alliance Coalition Partners, Also Headlined the Event.

 

Troubling Trade Deal On The Horizon

Have You Heard of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Free Trade Agreement?  If Not, You’re Not Alone – the American People, By Design, Know Very Little About What U.S. negotiators Are Promising In Closed-Door Talks with Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam and other Countries.  Six-Hundred Corporate Advisors Have Access to the Text, but the Rest of Us Do Not.  “What Has Come To Light Is That In Addition to Corporate-Favored Terms that Would Send American Jobs Off-Shore and Decrease Environmental and Health Safeguards, the TPP Could Undermine the Ability of States or the Federal Government to Moderate Escalating Prescription Drug, Biologic Drug and Medical Device Costs in Public Programs,” Alliance Secretary-Treasurer Ruben Burks said. “That Includes Limiting the Government’s Ability to Negotiate Lower Prices for Prescription Drugs Through Medicaid and the Veterans Administration.”  The Alliance is Joining with Organized Labor, Public Interest Groups and Others in Urging Congress and the President to Make the Process of These Negotiations Transparent, Allow Public In-Put, and Ensure that the TPP Agreement and Future Trade Agreements Do Not Limit the Tools of States or the Federal Government to Manage Pharmaceutical and Medical Device Costs in Public Programs or Bind the U.S. to a 12-Year Exclusivity Period for Brand-Name Biologic Drugs.  There’s More at http://www.citizen.org/TPP

 

Conference Committee Holds Meeting In Advance Of December 13th Budget Deadline

The Agreement in October by the U.S. House and Senate to Fund the Government until January 15th, and to Raise the Debt Ceiling through February 7th, has Put in Place a House-Senate Conference Committee Charged With Reaching a Compromise on the Fiscal Year (FY) 2014 Budget by December 13th.  The Conference Committee had their First Meeting Last Week. “There’s Danger of a ‘Grand Bargain’ that Would Cut Seniors’ Social Security and Medicare Benefits,” the Alliance’s Burks said. “If You’ve Not Already Stood With (U.S.) Senator Bernie Sanders (Independent-Vermont) and Our Coalition Partners In Demanding No ‘Grand Bargain’ in Exchange for Cuts to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid Benefits,’” Go To http://tinyurl.com/q326j93.”  Liberals have Insisted Democrats Vigorously Resist Efforts to Reduce Long-Term Deficits with Savings in Social Security or Medicare.  Senator Sanders has been Particularly Outspoken, saying he Fears a Budget Deal Will Contain the Chained CPI. President Obama had Proposed that Remedy Only If Republicans Agree to Raise Tax Revenue.  GOP Lawmakers Involved in the Current Budget Discussions Have Said They Would Reject Such a Deal.

 

Harry Reid: No Grand Bargain In The Near Future

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (Democrat-Nevada) has Ruled Out the Possibility that a Budget Conference Committee Will Reach a Grand Bargain that Would Cut Social Security and Medicare, Raise Taxes and Reduce Spending.  “We’re Not Going to Have a ‘Grand Bargain’ in the Near Future,” he said.  Instead, He Suggested Negotiators Should Focus on a Replacement for Sequestration and Forget “Happy Talk” About a Grand Bargain.  The Comments came a Week After the Deal He Reached with Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell (Kentucky) to Reopen the Government and Raise the Debt Ceiling.  A House-Senate Budget Conference will be Established to Come Up With Long-Term Spending Plans by December 13th, 2013.  Congress Faces a January 15th Deadline to Fund the Government Again to Prevent a Shutdown, and a February 7th Deadline to Raise the Debt Ceiling.  Reid said a Wider Deal Could Happen Next Year If Mainstream Republicans Can Take Control of the GOP Away from the Tea Party. Reid Signaled He Could Be Open To Minor Trimming of Some Medicare or Social Security Spending as Part of Deal that Involves Tax Revenue from the Wealthiest Americans.  “We Still Have to Mobilize Vigorously to Make Sure Seniors’ Programs Are Not Cut As Part of the Budget Conference Deal,” Alliance Executive Director Edward Coyle said.

 

Key Negotiator Does Not Want To Reduce Medicare Benefits

U.S. Representative Chris Van Hollen (Maryland), the Ranking Democrat on the House Budget Committee, said that He Would Be Open to Finding Medicare Savings in Ways that Give Care Providers Incentives to Cut Costs, but that He Would Want to Avoid Changes that Reduce the Benefits that Americans Receive.  He said He Would Consider Some Changes to Medicare.  One Idea that Would Be a Tough Sell with Democrats is a Change in the Way that Cost-of-Living Increases are Calculated in Social Security.  The Change Would Be Made by Adopting the Less-Generous Gauge of Inflation Known As the Chained CPI.  Such a Plan “Creates a Whole Lot of Problems Within the Democratic Caucus,” Van Hollen acknowledged.  To Read More, Go To http://tinyurl.com/ofdwvhx.

 

Groups Act To Close Loopholes That Allow Many Companies To Pay No Taxes

Among Companies Listed on the S&P 500, over 10% Paid an Effective Tax Rate of 0% or Even Lower Over the Past Year, according to an Analysis by USA Today and a Write-Up by thinkprogress.org at http://tinyurl.com/nnwd8u3.  The National Alliance and Several State Chapters have Signed On to a Letter Urging Congress to include U.S. Senator Carl Levin's (Democrat-Michigan) Bill, S. 1533, in the Budget Discussions by Closing Tax Loopholes (http://tinyurl.com/jw2q35d).  A Wide Range of Labor, Consumer and Civil Rights Groups Support Closing Outrageous Loopholes in the Tax Code.

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