As if we didn’t already have enough on our plates (having to fend off attacks from theÂ “Fix the Debt” CEOs), now there’s another group of CEOs, theÂ Business Roundtable,Â telling us we need to “modernize,” a.k.a. cut, Social Security and Medicare benefits by raising the eligibility ages and reducing cost-of-living adjustments (COLAs). How helpful.Â
R.J. Eskow took on the Business Roundtable in his latest blog, How Extreme Is the Business Roundtable? Check Out Its Attack on the Elderly.
Yesterday, Gary Loveman, CEO of Caesars Entertainment Corp. and head of the Roundtable’s “health and retirement committee,” toldÂ PoliticoÂ that “[a]ny effort to address the country’s fiscal problems has to have as a centerpiece reform of its principal entitlement programs.”
Added Loveman: “None of us [CEOs]âvery few of usâare ideologically driven. We’re pragmatists….”
“I am encouraged by how relatively easy these remedies really are,” said Loveman. “… (and) they have a tremendously sanguine effect on the government’s fiscal health.”
That’s true. ItÂ isÂ pretty easy. Just kick in a few rich people’s doors, seize their belongings…oh, wait. That’s theÂ otherÂ extremist scenario. Loveman’s is the one where people who have paid for Social Security and Medicare coverage throughout their working lives must give some of their benefits upâfor him and his friends.
These CEOs are the same people cutting back on pensions and retiree health benefits. Now they want working people to have even more economic insecurity in retirement by cutting the few benefits that keep seniors afloat.Â
Raising the Social Security retirement age is especially damaging. Not only is it a benefit cut, workers 55 and older have the longest bouts of unemployment. TheÂ average time unemployed is nearly a year (51.3 weeks, compared to 34.3 weeks for workers younger than 55). Â
Eskow points out that 8.9% of American seniors already live in poverty, while 5.4% are on the edge.Â The average Social Security recipient collectsÂ $1,164 per month.
Anyone who claims they can cut those benefits by 3%âand use those meager benefits to end elderÂ povertyâis selling snake oil.
Snake oil indeed. There’s nothing more cynical than calling devastating cuts to vital lifelines “modernization proposals.” Working people know the difference.Â
This post was originally posted on AFL-CIO on 1/17/2013. Reprinted with Permission.
About the Author: Jackie Tortora is the blog editor and social media manager at the AFL-CIO. Interviewing union musicians wasÂ her introduction to the labor movement.Â Her first job after graduating college was in Syracuse, New York, whereÂ she wrote and edited theÂ International Musician, the monthly magazine for the American Federation of Musicians (AFM). Protecting Social Security and Medicare from benefit cuts brought me to Washington, D.C., whereÂ she spent two years as a new media coordinator at the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare.Â She came to the AFL-CIO in the summer of 2012, just in time to re-elect President Barack Obama. WhenÂ she’s not tweeting about America’s unions, it’s likely she’sÂ watching Syracuse basketball and football.Â