Working Families to Congress: Lame Duck Can’t Bargain Away Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid

This is a cross-post from AFL-CIO blog

By Mike Hall

Thursday morning outside Sen. Rob Portman’s (R-Ohio) Cincinnati office a young single mother and her son, Vincent, who has severe disabilities, talked about the vital role Medicaid plays in their lives and how devastating any cuts to that health care lifeline would be.

The action was just one of more than 100 that were set for Thursday by working family activists urging Congress not to agree to a so-called “grand bargain” of deficit reduction in the upcoming lame-duck session that includes Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid benefit cuts.

In cities across the country, union members and retirees are being joined by members of progressive and faith communities and other allies as they tell lawmakers to protect the promises of Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security but to end George W. Bush’s tax cuts for the richest 2%. Says AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka:

Though the election confetti is still on the street, working families are already mobilizing to hold their elected leaders accountable. The people advocating for benefit cuts to Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security are the same folks who want to cut taxes for the richest 2%. With working families across the country still struggling, we can’t afford to pay for any more tax breaks for those who need them the least.

At rush hour yesterday morning—and as a Nor’easter was raging—retired members from several AFL-CIO building and construction trades unions gathered at Boston’s South Station, urging commuters to contact their federal lawmakers and tell them to protect these critically important working family services.

At many of Thursday’s events, working family activists highlighted an AFL-CIO election night survey of the general public conducted by Hart Research Associates, showing that by a 64% to 17% margin, voters say we should maintain Social Security and Medicare benefits and address the deficit by increasing taxes on the rich, not by reducing benefits.

Working families in Milwaukee, along with AFL-CIO Executive Vice President Arlene Holt Baker, joined Rep. Gwen Moore (D-Wis.) for a forum at her district office and talked about mobilizing to block any “grand bargain” that included cuts to Social security, Medicare and Medicaid benefits.  Brad Esson, a Machinist member (IAM) from Racine, said:

“I’ve spent my entire life working hard to pay the bills for myself and my family. I believe that every person deserves the chance to retire in dignity. Shame on any congressperson that does not share that core American belief.”

(Read this rest of Mike Hall’s article by clicking here.)

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