Two Letters and More Struggles
By Robby Stern
The letters in this column reflect some of our on-going work. We anticipate carrying on the fight for lives of dignity and respect for all people in our community.
PSARA members participated in the Caring Across Generations(CAG) first annual lobby day. One of our smart and committed members, Kate Hunter, suggested PSARA hold a bake sale to encourage and perhaps shame the legislature to raise revenue to restore cuts to critically needed home care services and to pay home care workers the level of wages they genuinely deserve.
Following excellent baking, we set up our table in the Capital (a no-no but we ignored the no- sayers for the entire morning). We then moved the bake sale outdoors between the House & Senate office buildings. Kate, Maureen, and other PSARA members actively talked to people who came by. They spoke to a LOT of legislators.
Here is the letter we sent to Governor Inslee, Speaker Chopp, and Senate Majority Leader Rodney Tom:
“On Thursday, March 28, 2013, activist members of Puget Sound Advocates for Retirement Action (PSARA) held a bake sale in the Legislative Building and on the Capitol grounds to raise money to restore home care hours and improve the pay of home care workers. We raised $288.55. Please find enclosed the form we sent to the State Treasurers’ Office along with the check representing the proceeds raised.
We are not naïve, nor do we have any illusions that our small contribution will make a difference. We were making a statement. We were urging you to do the right thing for the people of Washington by raising the necessary revenue to meet the fundamental needs of the young, old, disabled and poor in our beloved state. We baked the dough and raised the dough to communicate to you that it can be done if you have the will and compassion to do it.
At the time of this writing, the Governor has thankfully called for raising revenue by closing unneeded tax loopholes and extending temporary taxes. Shamefully, the Senate has failed to address the need and is proposing to cut services to some of the neediest in our state as well as cutting pro- grams upon which our residents depend. The House is expected to issue their budget soon.
PSARA is a multigenerational organization committed to raising our voices for a decent, compassionate, and respectful state of Washington. We urge you to follow the Governor’s lead and the lead of our senior citizens who carried out this bake sale. Please place compassion and caring for Washington residents over the political obstacles that you have placed in your way.
Respectfully, Robby Stern, President
The Governor’s budget and the pro- posed budget of the House identified sources for raising revenue. The Senate budget proposal failed to raise revenue. We await the final outcome of the budget process but we WILL stay engaged.
At the same time, President Obama made a tragic and historic mistake pro- posing a budget that cuts Social Security and Medicare. He has damaged these programs for decades by providing politi- cal cover for the enemies of our earned benefit programs.
The following is the letter that was sent to our entire Washington Congressional delegation:
Dear Representative/Senator _________, With the release of President Obama’s budget, the threat of unfair and unneces-
sary cuts to Social Security and Medicare have become palpable. We are asking you to take a stand!
The change to the Chained CPI simply makes the COLA for Social Security even more unfair. We know that the CPI for Urban Wage Earners, the present index, fails to take into account the disproportionate amount seniors and disabled people pay towards health care costs. The Chained CPI is even worse because it will reduce already insufficient annual cost of living adjustments. It was immoral for President Obama to offer this benefit cut as a way to entice the GOP to the table to discuss revenue. The damage he has done will be with us for decades into the future. What is most appalling is there exists a simple tweak that could eliminate any discussion of Social Security solvency for the next fifty years: eliminating the cap of $113,700.
Will you stand with the vast majority of your constituents and commit in writing to oppose any effort to adopt the Chained CPI? Will you take the further step of com- mitting to support Scrapping the Cap, a simple fix that will put Social Security on sound financial footing for many decades to come? The time for making such a commitment has never been more appropriate.
President Obama also proposed to raise the cost of Medicare for people earn- ing more than $47,000 a year. Such a pro- posal demonstrates blinders to the struggle of middle class people to make ends meet. Frankly, it is an outrageous proposal! There are so many constructive solutions to lowering the costs of Medicare.
1. Allow CMS to negotiate the cost of prescription drugs.
2. Change the reimbursement formula to pay for best practices and outcomes rather than paying per procedure.
3. Lower the age of eligibility for Medicare to 50 or 55 and allow this healthier cohort to pay premiums to Medi- care, if they choose.
We recognize these suggestions (like Scrapping the Cap) are heavy political lifts, but they are also the correct approach and put you, as opposed to President Obama and the Republicans, on the side of the American people.
Are you prepared to commit to oppose the proposal to increase the cost of Medi- care to the middle class of our country?
We look forward to your response.
Robby Stern, Chair, Social Security Works Washington; President, Puget Sound Advocates for Retirement Action
We will push for a response to this letter and take further action to demon- strate how seriously we take this threat to our earned benefit programs.