July 10, 2015
Hundreds of Alliance Members Converge on Washington for 2015 National Legislative Conference
400 activists came to Washington, DC for the Alliance’s 2015 National Legislative Conference this week. The activists reached more than 150 offices on Thursday’s Lobby Day, when they met with their Members of Congress and Senators and voiced their concerns about retiree issues. Alliance members lobbied their elected officials with very specific goals in mind, including: expand earned Social Security benefits; protect Social Security Disability Insurance; preserve Medicare and allow no cuts to it; and oppose the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Trade Agreement. The firstphotographs are up on Facebook!
“A core part of being a lifelong activist is a commitment to lifelong learning. We are never too old to stop learning new skills,” said Alliance President Barbara J. Easterling of the conference’s mission.
Richard Trumka, President of the AFL-CIO, began the conference with a fiery speech on Tuesday. Several elected officials addressed the attendees: House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (CA), Senators Bernie Sanders (VT), Debbie Stabenow (MI), and Elizabeth Warren(MA) and Representatives Keith Ellison (MN) and Ruben Gallego (AZ). On Wednesday evening, the President’s Award was presented to Judy Cato, Executive Vice-President Emerita, for her activism and years on the Alliance Executive Board.
Max Fine, a member of President Kennedy’s White House Task Force on Medicare in the 1960’s, told the crowd what it was like to work on creating Medicare with both JFK and PresidentLyndon Baines Johnson. Several other speakers, including Mark Dimondstein, President of the American Postal Workers Union; Will Fischer, Executive Director of the Union Veterans Council; and many others brought enormous energy to the week’s events.
The Alliance offered eleven different action sessions throughout the conference, including TPP: Latest update and What We Do Next and Politics and Advocacy in Action.
“Now, we must go home and educate our neighbors on how strengthening and expanding Social Security would improve benefits for millions of Americans and ensure the stability of the program for years to come,” said Jo Etta Brown, Alliance Executive Vice President for Community Advocacy in her concluding remarks.
Lobby Visits Send a Message
At their lobby appointments, Alliance members left behind a letter that summed up many of the points they had made during their meetings. One such point: that the 50th Anniversary of Medicare is an opportunity to help strengthen the program for generations to come, yet many in Congress are looking to cut benefits or increase cost-sharing for seniors.
Regarding, the 80th Anniversary of Social Security this year, the letter urged sponsoring the various proposals in Congress to help expand benefits; addressing the Disability Insurance (DI) trust fund shortfall that is coming in 2016 with a modest and temporary reallocation of funds from the Old-Age Survivors and Disability Insurance (OASDI) trust fund to the DI trust fund to avoid a 20% cut in benefits.
“Alliance members may have arrived just in time,” said Richard Fiesta, Alliance executive director. “House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Paul Ryan is about to address the Social Security Disability Trust Fund.”
White House Conference on Aging is Monday – Watch the Webcast!
The 2015 White House Conference on Aging will be held this Monday, July 13th in Washington, DC. It marks the 50th anniversary of Medicare, Medicaid, and the Older Americans Act as well as the the 80th anniversary of Social Security.
“Alliance members presented White House Conference on Aging Executive Director Nora Superwith 226,000 signatures on Tuesday, saying that expanding Social Security should be a focus of the White House Conference,” said Ruben Burks, Secretary-Treasurer of the Alliance.
There will be a livestream of the July 13 event on the WHCOA’s website.
Medicare Turns 50: Join us in Celebration
Have you had a chance to check out the personal stories of Alliance members featured on ourwww.medicare50th.org website?
This week’s Medicare quote: “We need to tell Congress, ‘Don’t go NEAR undermining Medicare and Social Security!’” Democratic Leader Pelosi told Alliance members before they departed for Capitol Hill on Thursday.
Thank You, Adam Swope
Adam Swope, field organizer for the Pennsylvania Alliance, is leaving the Alliance for a new private business venture.
“We thank Adam for his many organizing and advocacy contributions in Pennsylvania the last seven years at the local, state and federal level,” said Mr. Fiesta. “We had numerous legislative and electoral victories in Pennsylvania during Adam’s tenure, and we would not have been able to run our state program at the level we did without him.”