The future of retirement is on the line, according to the California Alliance for Retired Americans (CARA), a progressive grassroots advocacy organization. Nan Brasmer, president of the California Alliance, says conversations in Congress about lowering the federal budget deficit are threatening the hopes and dreams of millions of Americans for a safe and secure retirement.
Brasmer specifically cited a fiscal 2012 budget plan that passed the U.S. House on April 15. Authored by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.), the bill privatizes Medicare by putting it in the hands of health insurance companies who care more about profits than anything else. The Ryan budget “block grants” Medi-Cal and threatens support for millions of seniors and disabled who need nursing home or in-home care. It opens the door to cutting Social Security benefits and increasing the retirement age. Although the budget crushes the hopes of millions for a safe and secure retirement, it does not touch tax breaks for millionaires, billionaires and corporations.
“I know we need to lower the deficit, but we shouldn’t do this on the backs of the sick, the elderly, and the poor,” Brasmer says. “We should get rid of the big tax breaks that we give to millionaires and big corporations.
“The Central Valley has some of the poorest communities in the nation. How can [the] Congressmen who represent these communities give tax breaks to the wealthy and corporations instead of strengthening the programs that people in these communities need? This is not only wrong, but it is cruel.”
During the week of April 25, CARA sponsored a series of events in the Central Valley around the theme “Don’t Make Us Work ’Til We Die!” to highlight threats to the health and security of retirees. CARA members met with the staff of Congressional Reps. Jeff Denham (R–Atwater), Devin Nunes (R–Tulare) and Kevin McCarthy (R–Bakersfield), who voted for the Ryan budget, to share their concerns. CARA members also met with the staff of Reps. Jerry McNerney (D–Pleasanton) and Jim Costa (D–Fresno) to thank them for voting against the Ryan budget. They met with Sen. Diane Feinstein’s staff and urged her to stand up for the needs of current and future retirees in California.
“Retirees care about more than themselves,” says Brasmer. “We worry about children and grandchildren in these difficult times and we wonder what America will look like when these young people are ready to retire.”
CARA is concerned when politicians say cutting Social Security will reduce the deficit. “Social Security has never contributed a penny to the deficit,” says Brasmer. “It is fully funded by workers and their employers.”
Furthermore, the 2010 Social Security Trustees Report says that Social Security has a $2.6 trillion surplus. “Social Security is one of America’s greatest success stories. It has kept generations of seniors out of poverty and helped millions who have suffered a disability or lost a parent at an early age,” says Brasmer.
Fresno’s CARA Action Team (CAT) meets the fourth Tuesday of the month at 10 a.m. at Country Waffles, 3851 N. Blackstone Ave. For more information, call Gene Roza at 559-905-3521.