Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) lost a bid on Wednesday to boost the income of millions of Social Security recipients and offset the elimination of the Social Security Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) for 2010. His amendment calling for $13 billion to fund a one-time, $250 payment to seniors, veterans, and the disabled needed 60 votes to pass, but failed 47-50. For a tally of the vote, go to http://bit.ly/bTH5iG. The amendment was to be attached to legislation that would extend jobless benefits and COBRA health care subsidies. There will be no COLA this year due to low inflation. Edward F. Coyle, Executive Director of the Alliance, said, “The purchasing needs of seniors are unique, and often include medications needed to stay alive. We insist that the Senate realize the importance of this $250 payment to struggling retirees.” Sen. Sanders also said that the fight for the measure, which President Obama included in his budget, would continue.
Obama Calls for Reconciliation in Order to Pass Health Care Reform Quickly
In a health care speech by Barack Obama on Wednesday, the President called for an “up or down vote” that would leave Republicans unable to kill the bill through a filibuster. The current Democratic plan is to have the House vote to approve the already-passed Senate bill, plus fixes, then have the Senate pass these fixes through reconciliation. Under this scenario, only a simple majority in the Senate, rather than a super-majority of 60 votes, would be needed to pass health reform. The President stated that he wants action within a few weeks, echoing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-CA) call for an informal deadline of March 18. Despite Republican criticism that a decision to bar the filibuster would be “met with outrage” by the public, Democrats shot back with claims that the same rules had been used five times during George W. Bush’s administration. The Obama White House is still working to include bipartisan measures, and announced that they were exploring GOP proposals that include additional crackdowns on fraudulent medical charges and new rules for medical malpractice suits. “We can’t just quit,” said Ruben Burks, Secretary-Treasurer of the Alliance. “This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to fix a health care system that is not benefiting millions of Americans, including many seniors.”
Alan Simpson Strikes at Seniors, Social Security, and Medicare
Former U.S. Sen. Alan Simpson sat down with the CNBC television network last week to discuss his post as co-chair of the President’s Fiscal Commission on the national debt. Throughout the conversation, he leveled several attacks against seniors and senior advocacy organizations, accusing them of not caring “a whit about their grandchildren