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Thu Dec 20, 2012, 06:24 AM

Stories of the Elderly Remind Us of the Pain of Cutting Social Security Payments

http://www.alternet.org/news-amp-politics/stories-elderly-remind-us-pain-cutting-social-security-payments

When I was a young organizer for Iowa Citizen Action Network, we were doing a lot of work on utility rate hikes. I met an elderly woman, maybe late 70s, who was living on her Social Security check. As utility prices went through the roof, her cost of living increase in that check wasn't coming anywhere close to covering the costs she had. She was extremely worried, because as frugal as she was she couldn't figure out how to keep her heat on, pay her rent, and buy a few meager groceries. She thought the utilities might end up shutting her heat off. I suggested a social services agency she could go to, and that she might check with neighborhood churches to see if they had funds that could help. And I promised that I would do everything I could to fight for her. I pushed hard on the local utility companies to try and shame them away from turning the heat off the dead of an Iowa winter, which didn't work very well because the utility companies had no shame. And my organization pushed in the legislature to get a bill passed that would prohibit utility shutoffs in the wintertime, which didn't pass the first year but did the second year we worked on it. But it didn't pass in time to save the woman I met. Reading the Cedar Rapids Gazette one day that winter, I saw that the woman I met had been found dead in her apartment of hypothermia after the utility company had turned off her heat.

When we got the bill passed in the next session, I thought of her. I was proud that no one would die in the coming years in Iowa because of having their heat turned off, but I was also mourning that we were too late to save her. And I vowed to keep my promise to her as long as I lived, that I would keep fighting for her and people like her.

Itís 30 years later, but I still have promises to keep, as do all Democrats who claim to be on the side of the middle class and poor. As Dean Baker makes clear, if the Presidentís apparent offer of changing the CPI formula is part of the budget deal, it will be a very hard blow for generations to come for seniors who will be unlikely to have decent pensions or much in the way of savings to cushion the blow of these cuts. And with prices for necessities (utility prices, gas, groceries, health care) tending to go up more than the inflation rate in general, this is the absolute worst kind of cut to be making.
I have been having some interesting conversations with Democrats over the last 24 hours about what being a loyal Democrat means with the President seeming likely to go forward with this deal. The point has been made that the Republicans are far worse than Obama on these issues, as all they want to do is to gut Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and other programs for the poor, and that is definitely true. The fact that the President is, according to the Washington Post, proposing to exclude SSI disability payments and provide a bump-up in benefits for those 85 and older is a good thing and much appreciated. People have said to me that the Presidentís heart is in the right place, and that he is working hard to get the best deal he thinks he can get, which may well be true- I gave up judging politiciansí motives long ago. And I have been told I should be a loyal Democrat, that the President is our partyís leader, and we should be unified in supporting him.

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Reply Stories of the Elderly Remind Us of the Pain of Cutting Social Security Payments (Original post)
xchrom Dec 2012 OP
Sherman A1 Dec 2012 #1
newfie11 Dec 2012 #2
AnotherMcIntosh Dec 2012 #3
marew Dec 2012 #4
forestpath Dec 2012 #5
Liberal_in_LA Dec 2012 #6

Response to xchrom (Original post)

Thu Dec 20, 2012, 06:39 AM

1. Agreed

balancing the budget on the backs of the poor and Seniors is beyond reprehensible. I urge all to write their Senators & Representatives and do so today.

I wrote to mine just this morning. It may not do much, but it is something we can do.

http://www.democraticunderground.com/1061577

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Response to xchrom (Original post)

Thu Dec 20, 2012, 07:15 AM

2. what makes this so appalling is SS has no bearing on the deficit

So why is this thrown out there by Pres Obama both times to raise the Debt ceiling? I hope the people saying he has a grand plan and not to worry know something I don't. I am not so sure.

What if the repugs take him up on his offer.

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Response to xchrom (Original post)

Thu Dec 20, 2012, 08:19 AM

3. A question is raised by your post. What is a "loyal Democrat?"

 

For many of us, we were raised to have belief that compassion for others and participatory democracy are good things. We were raised to believe that we can evaluate politicians' actions and that we can remaining true to traditional Democratic values. We were raised to understand logic and believe that actions should be based upon logical decisions.

For us, the term "loyal Democrat" means someone who is loyal to certain principles.

It is not an act of disloyalty to engage in participatory democracy and question whether a politician's actions are consistent with such principles. Or to question whether certain actions are logical.

It is not an act of disloyalty to point to specific actions that are inconsistent with certain traditional Democratic principles. This is true even when doing so inherently reveals a politician's motive in particular instances to benefit a few at the expense of the many.

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Response to AnotherMcIntosh (Reply #3)

Thu Dec 20, 2012, 09:20 AM

4. Thank you for an excellent post! n/t

Yes, it should be our highest values to which we remain loyal- those of kindness, fairness, and compassion. All, very sadly, are increasinly rare in Washington today.

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Response to AnotherMcIntosh (Reply #3)

Thu Dec 20, 2012, 04:11 PM

5. Bingo. The Democratic party is nothing but a wing of the Republican party now.

 

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Response to xchrom (Original post)

Thu Dec 20, 2012, 10:09 PM

6. kick. Not to bash OBama, but to remind us that not all elderly are rich

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