Social Safety Net

This page will connect you with contemporary writings and videos, Congressional bills and other pertinent resources on the social safety net (e.g., Medicare, Social Security, Medicaid, etc.).

Michael Phelan's Letter

Social Security Works
Dear John,

We need to speak out now to make sure AARP, the powerful lobbying group that claims to represent 40 million older Americans, doesn’t sell us out by supporting cuts to Social Security.

According to a recent story in the Huffington Post, AARP’s CEO is convening a small group of Washington insiders to discuss the future of Social Security.

This closed meeting will be heavily stacked with “powerful Washington establishment figures who are on record favoring cuts to Social Security and Medicare.”

Tell AARP: Listen to your members, not to the lobbyists and other special interests representing the “1 percent.”

Contrast this to the leadership shown by the AFL-CIO who just called for Social Security benefits to be "increased across the board, while pointing out that Social Security is a “key solution to our retirement crisis.”

Last year AARP faced a massive backlash when its board dropped its opposition to cutting Social Security and its policy director publicly signaled a willingness to consider benefit cuts.

Tell AARP: Be a leader, demand that Social Security COLAs for seniors and people with disability take into account the high health care costs they face.

After the public outcry, AARP backtracked and claimed it did not in fact support cutting Social Security.

But now it looks like AARP is at it again, and this time backtracking will not be good enough. We need the AARP to stand up and fight for the benefits their members have earned through their hard work and payroll tax contributions.

Tell AARP: Be a leader, demand an across the board increase in Social Security benefits!

Ironically, while the CEO of AARP is set to hold a private meeting with people who want to cut Social Security and Medicare benefits, the organization has also just launched an effort where it is advertising that it will “simply listen and gather information” and “give everyday Americans a chance to weigh in with proposals and recommendations” on the future of Social Security and Medicare.
So if there’s ever a time to speak out to AARP, it’s now.

Tell AARP: Be a leader, don’t pander to the insiders. Demand higher benefits.

The wealthiest nation in the world can certainly afford a decent retirement for those who have contributed to building this nation throughout their lives.

Speak out now and ensure AARP leads the call for increased Social Security benefits.

Thank you for taking action to protect Social Security.


Michael Phelan
Strengthen Social Security Campaign

Tax Social Security Benefits, Not the One-Percent

"With the health of Social Security again at issue, there's good reason to make 100% of benefits taxable." 

Gerald E. Scorse

Writing in the Los Angeles Times, Gerald E. Scorse proposes taxing 100 percent of Social Security benefits.  Although he advocates taxing 100 percent of Social Security benefits, he thinks the tax threshold should be higher than the current $44,000 for joint filers.

To read more of Scorse's op-ed, follow the link enclosed below.

Scorse, Gerald E. "The golden trade-off." Los Angeles Times 16 January, 2012: online edition.

California Legislature Passes Bill To Aid State's Seniors

Assembly Bill No. 138, Elder Economic Planning Act of 2011, was passed in by the Assembly and Senate in September and August 2011, respectively.

The following is an excerpt from the Act:

SEC. 2. It is the intent of the Legislature that the California
Department of Aging and the area agencies on aging utilize the
Elder Economic Security Standard Index, when available, as
developed and updated by the University of California, Los
Angeles, Center for Health Policy Research, as a planning tool in
the development of local area plans and as a guide in allocating
existing resources that support senior services in their communities.
You may read the Act by clicking the link below.

Assembly Bill No. 138, Elder Economic Planning Act of 2011.

President Obama and Democrats 

The following excerpt from The New York Times editorial, "The Damage of 2011," describes a few of the White House and Congressional Democrats' successes during the budget wars of 2011.

Given the level of extortion they faced, the White House budget office and Congressional Democrats negotiated relatively well. They prevented Republicans from touching Medicare recipients, Medicaid, Social Security and other programs. (President Obama did offer to cut entitlement spending in exchange for higher tax revenues, but Republicans refused that deal.) They arranged for more than $500 billion in cuts to come from defense spending. And they did not agree to extend the Bush tax cuts, now scheduled to expire at the end of 2012.
"The Damage of 2011." Editorial. The New York Times 30 December, 2011: online edition.

School Lunch Program

The New York Times editorial, "The School Lunch Barometer," highlights the issue of an increase in children participating in the federal school lunch program.

This increased participation in the school lunch program is attributed to the severity of the economic recession. Yes, the same Great Recession -- now Little Depression -- that Republicans block all and any federal efforts to counter.  The Republican Party definitely has returned to its Herbert Hoover-roots.

"The School Lunch Barometer." Editorial. The New York Times 29 December, 2011: online edition.

Medicare Reform Plan

The health care program for America's retired citizens, Medicare, is in need of a booster shot to vaccinate it against a specific disease, conservatism. This post introduces an article that addresses a dastardly proposal that, under the artful semblance of reforming Medicare, would actually destroy the Medicare program as we know it.

Writing in The New York Times, Ezekiel J. Emanuel emphasizes that health care costs must be cut; not just shifted onto the constrained, individual budgets of America's retirees.  

Emanuel criticizes the Ron Wyden-Paul Ryan Medicare "reform" plan for wanting to replace Medicare as we know it with a financially, inadequate voucher system that would unduly burden the budgets of fixed-income, retired Americans. Emanuel describes the effects of the Wyden-Ryan voucher system in the following way:

Premium support is classic cost shifting, rather than cost cutting. Unless growth in health care costs is low, Medicare beneficiaries will just have to pick up the difference between the voucher’s value and the cost of the health insurance plan they purchase. 

Emanuel, Ezekiel J. Opinionator: "For Medicare, We Must Cut Costs, Not Shift Them." The New York Times, 19 December, 2011: online edition.

The following video, provided by the Brookings Institution, focuses our attention on Medicare costs and the budget deficit.

Alice M. Rivlin, Senior Fellow, Economic Studies:

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