The latest continuing resolution to fund the federal government runs out on January 15, 2014.

We’ll know whether or not we’re facing another shutdown by the end of this week, December 13.  That’s when a tentative budget deal is put forward by a budget conference committee to members of Congress.

Iowa’s senior statesman Charles Grassley is one of the budget conferees working on the potential deal.  This is Grassley’s chance to show Iowans and the American people whose side he is on – everyday people or Wall Street and big corporations.

Sen. Grassley was not on the side of everyday people this past October when he enabled the government shutdown and subsequently voted to keep the government from reopening.  This political showboating that lasted just over two weeks cost the US economy untold billions of dollars in damage.

Everyday people have time and again shouldered more than their fair share in regards to the nation’s budget while the wealthiest Americans continue to enjoy lavish tax breaks and corporate tax loopholes.

It’s time for a budget that reflects the values of we the people, recognizing that we’re all in this together.

A budget where everyone pays their fair share will close corporate tax loopholes, expand and strengthen Social Security, and rein in reckless Wall Street speculation through a modest tax on their high volume trades.

Sen. Grassley can do right by everyday Iowans and the American people or he can continue to stand on the side of an extreme faction in the Republican Party that bends over backwards for the wealthiest 1%.  Come December 13 we’ll have a good idea of where his allegiances lie.

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Every other month, Ambassadors convene to recap their presentation, updated CCI organizers on their work, and meet with key leaders in the fight to preserve Social Security and other vital programs.

On Saturday, August 24th, CCI Social Security Ambassadors met with Senator Harkin’s (D-IA) staffer Laura Sands to learn more about his Strengthen Social Security Act, Harkin’s proposal to improve retirement security in the United States. The proposed legislation would increase benefits for current and future beneficiaries, while making Social Security stronger for future generations by extending the life of the Trust Fund through 2049.

The Social Security Ambassadors team works to spread the truth to Iowans regarding Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, and share what everyday Iowans can do to strengthen the vital programs. Ambassadors host educational presentations around the state at community and labor centers, churches, and homes.

 

 

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Would you like Social Security Ambassadors to host an event at your home, church, community center, or organization? Contact us, and we’ll get it set up!

  • Join as an Iowa CCI member today or chip in $10 to support our organizing on this issue.
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http://abetteriowa.desmoinesregister.com/2013/04/11/espey-obamas-chained-cpi-proposal-bad-for-social-security-people/

Espey: Obama’s ‘chained CPI’ proposal bad for Social Security, people

For nearly 78 years, Social Security has survived a barrage of attacks from Wall Street and conservatives. It’s also been strengthened and expanded to protect more of our nation’s elderly and disabled from the throes of poverty. And it has been hugely successful.

So it comes as a complete shock that yesterday – April 10th – a sitting Democratic president unveiled a budget that includes significant cuts to Social Security. These poorly disguised cuts come under the name of the “chained CPI.”Make no mistake – the chained CPI is a benefit cut for current retirees and future beneficiaries. It would change the formula used to calculate the cost-of-living-adjustment (COLA) for already modest Social Security benefits.

Some will claim this is a more accurate measure of inflation. They couldn’t be more wrong, especially when it comes to seniors. The current COLA, in fact, does not fully take into account the added expenses incurred by seniors and therefore should be increased – not cut like the President proposes.

Let’s look at the facts: Social Security, by law, cannot and does not add to the nation’s deficit. Its benefits are incredibly modest, averaging around $14,000 a year. And yet, Social Security keeps nearly half of our nation’s seniors from falling into poverty.

Given this, it is disturbing that President Barack Obama is throwing our collective security in retirement on the chopping block. Whether it is a political bargaining chip or something he truly believes must be done, he is mistaken on all fronts.

Obama seems to be searching for a legacy, and he is using Social Security recipients as pawns in a flailing attempt at cementing his place in history for striking a “Grand Bargain” with entrenched obstructionists in Congress.

The President needs to withdraw his chained CPI proposal, and then work to strengthen and expand Social Security for generations to come.

 

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On April 9, a leadership team of CCI members held meetings with both Assistant Attorney General Patrick Madigan and Troy Price, the Executive Director of the Iowa Democratic Party.

We had two very clear messages for them to deliver to President Obama – he must get serious about replacing Ed DeMarco as the director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency(FHFA) and he needs to immediately reverse course on proposing cuts to Social Security.

The Iowa Attorney General’s Office has worked hard to address abuses in the mortgage servicing industry and pushed for servicers to reduce principal on homes that are “underwater” – more is owed than what the house is worth.  Principal reduction is a common sense measure that would help keep people in their homes, save taxpayer money, and jump start the sluggish economy.

Standing in the way of any meaningful principal reduction is a man by the name of Ed DeMarco who oversees loans held by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.  It is in everyone’s best interest for this man to be replaced by someone who will move quickly to reduce principal on underwater homeowners.  And while we all must keep up the grassroots pressure on the Obama administration, we wanted to know we had another messenger who knows the ins and outs of principal reduction and the servicing industry – Attorney General Miller and his staff.

Following a productive meeting with Patrick Madigan, the Assistant Attorney General, members dropped by the Iowa Democratic Party headquarters to deliver the same message about Ed DeMarco as well as our shock that President Obama would willingly put cuts to Social Security in his budget to be unveiled on April 10.

President Obama has proposed to switch to the “chained CPI” as a way to calculate cost of living adjustments for recipients of Social Security.  The ugly truth is that the chained CPI is a benefit cut, pure and simple, and affects current recipients as well as future retirees.  This is even more insulting given the fact that Social Security has not, and cannot, contribute to the federal deficit.

We’ll continue to elevate these important issues with the media, elected officials, party leaders and the general public until we get assurance that policy makers are doing right by the American people when it comes to housing and retirement security.  And as long as Ed DeMarco remains at FHFA and Obama pursues the chained CPI for Social Security, we will not remain silent.

 

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 Click LIKE or TWEET if you think it’s time for Obama to represent We the People, not Wall Street fat cats.

The fiscal cliff has come and gone – for now – and there seems to be good and bad elements to the deal Congress reached no matter how you look at it.  Here’s an analysis from our friends at Americans for Tax Fairness, with our quick take below.

 

The Good –

For starters, we’ve made progress in getting the rich and big corporations to start paying their fair share.

  • The Bush era tax cuts that heavily favored the rich have expired on individual income over $400,000 and household income above $450,000.
  • Unemployment insurance benefits for the nation’s struggling unemployed have been extended for another year.
  • And, we’ve avoided the senseless and indiscriminate ax of sequestration that would have slashed critical programs and services for everyday people.

 

The Bad –

Though the deal struck by Congress and the administration begins to raise revenue from the wealthy, it does not go far enough.  We agree with Senator Harkin’s take on the deal and why he voted against it.

  • CCI members and groups across the country pushed hard for the expiration of the Bush tax cuts on income above $250,000.  That would have raised nearly $1 trillion over 10 years, while the current deal raises about $400 billion over 10 years.
  • Congress set the stage for yet another fiscal showdown two months from now by punting all decisions about sequestration to March when we will have to raise the nation’s debt ceiling once again.

 

The Potentially Ugly –

Republicans and moderates in Congress will zero in solely on spending cuts during the next fiscal showdown, with little to no talk of raising additional revenue.

  • Don’t be mistaken, we will once again hear calls for changing the consumer price index to a “Chained CPI”.  To be clear, the chained CPI is a benefit cut that affects every single American.  The Chained CPI doesn’t just reduce cost of living adjustments to Social Security – it will affect government pensions, veterans’ benefits and over time would push more people into higher tax brackets.  Annual adjustments to the poverty level would also be smaller, reducing the number of people eligible for Medicaid, Head Start, food stamps, school lunches and home heating assistance.

 

 The Light at the End of the Tunnel –

We’ve got another fight ahead of us, no doubt about it.  But, through your calls, letters and demonstrations over the past months we created a political environment more open to raising much needed revenue from the wealthy and big corporations and preserving vital social programs that benefit every American.  We can do it again, and we will.  Stay tuned for the latest updates and ways to take action, and make sure your elected officials know where you stand on the issue.  The people’s voice will be heard.

 

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There’s a lot of chatter coming out of DC and the media about the upcoming fiscal cliff. President Obama and John Boehner are talking one day and then the next acting like children claiming the other stole their bicycle.

From what most pundits are saying, one could assume that we’re headed for financial armageddon if our elected officials don’t take bold action before Jan. 1.

Whatever you do, do not believe what they are saying.

 

In our opinion, the fiscal cliff is a manufactured crisis and a scare tactic to make us think we need to cut Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and a whole host of other vital public programs to avert a crisis.  Nothing could be further from the truth.

Our friends at Maine People’s Alliance have a wonderful photo to help illustrate what’s at stake with the fiscal cliff.  Here it is:

The current “deals” on the table are no where near worth taking.  House Speaker Boehner’s proposal makes permanent the Bush era tax cuts on income up to $1 million.  President Obama’s counter-offer extends the Bush era tax cuts on income up to $400,000, AND contains the chained consumer price index (CPI).

To be clear, the chained CPI is a benefit cut that affects every single American.  And it doesn’t just reduce cost of living adjustments to Social Security – it will affect government pensions, veterans’ benefits and over time would push more people into higher tax brackets.  Annual adjustments to the poverty level would also be smaller, reducing the number of people eligible for Medicaid, Head Start, food stamps, school lunches and home heating assistance.

Don’t be fooled into thinking we need to rush a deal.  We recommend heeding the advice of Senator Harkin when he says “no deal is better than a bad deal.”  And right now, there are only bad deals coming out of Washington.  We can, and must, do better.  And the Senate is where we will draw a line in the sand.  Call Senators Harkin and Grassley and tell them all you want for Christmas is a fair deal or no deal at all!

 

What you can do:

  • Contact Senators Grassley and Harkin and tell them that we want a fair deal or no deal as a response to the upcoming “fiscal cliff”.  Call (855) 521-4799 and simply follow the instructions to be connected.
  • Write a letter to the editor explaining the importance of Social Security and Medicare and how our elected officials need to end the Bush tax cuts for the richest 2% – not cut vital programs that benefit millions of everyday people.
  • Sign up for our email action list to get the latest updates.
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