BY OMAR TEWFIK | APRIL 30, 2015 – AFSCME International
CLEVELAND – Standing up for retirement security for all Americans during a White House Conference on Aging (WHCoA) regional meeting here Monday, AFSCME Ohio retirees amplified the call to preserve, protect and expand Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare.
Retirees continue to make the case that these earned benefit programs are absolutely essential to millions of Americans, enabling them to pay the bills and afford medical care once they leave the workplace. More than half of American workers do not have pensions, and millions of seniors are unable to save up enough money for retirement, let alone have the money to pay for costly long-term health care.
“We have to keep fighting to make sure future generations of working Americans can retire with security and dignity, said Marian Garth Saffold, from AFSCME Retiree Chapter 1184. “Social Security works, it’s necessary, and it’s popular. These are reasons to expand it, not attack it for political purposes.”
Nearly two out of every three seniors depend on Social Security for most of their income, and Social Security lifts 22.2 million Americans out of poverty. Without it, the poverty rate of our seniors would quadruple to a staggering 44 percent.
Meanwhile, Medicare and Medicaid provide reliable access to health care for older Americans and people with disabilities, preventing millions of aging Americans from falling into poverty because of medical expenses.
“We ought to be expanding Social Security. We ought to be financing long-term care and supports,” said Norman Wernet, also from Chapter 1184, who facilitated a retirement security rally across the street from the WHCoA event.
“We’re saying to people who don’t necessarily have the money to save for retirement that they should not have to bear the entire burden of their poverty as they age,” Wernet said. “It’s unconscionable for members of Congress to allege that Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid are unearned benefits, that they’re some kind of welfare program.”
Despite the obvious importance of these programs for real retirement security, right-wing politicians and their special interest allies continue to launch political attacks aimed at weakening and even destroying them altogether. But AFSCME retirees are fighting back, participating in WHCoA events in Tampa, Florida, Phoenix, Arizona, and Seattle. Another regional conference will be held in Boston in May.