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Oh Great, More CEOs Telling Us We Need to Cut Social Security and Medicare Benefits

January 18th, 2013 | Jackie Tortora

Jackie TortoraAs if we didn’t already have enough on our plates (having to fend off attacks from the “Fix the Debt” CEOs), now there’s another group of CEOs, the Business Roundtable, 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. 

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,” told Politico 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]—very few of us—are 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. It is pretty easy. Just kick in a few rich people’s doors, seize their belongings…oh, wait. That’s the other 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 up—for 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. 

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. The average time unemployed is nearly a year (51.3 weeks, compared to 34.3 weeks for workers younger than 55).  

Eskow points out that 8.9% of American seniors already live in poverty, while 5.4% are on the edge. The average Social Security recipient collects $1,164 per month.

Anyone who claims they can cut those benefits by 3%—and use those meager benefits to end elder poverty—is 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. 

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 was her introduction to the labor movement. Her first job after graduating college was in Syracuse, New York, where she wrote and edited the 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., where she spent two years as a new media coordinator at the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare. She came to the AFL-CIO in the summer of 2012, just in time to re-elect President Barack Obama. When she’s not tweeting about America’s unions, it’s likely she’s watching Syracuse basketball and football. 

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3 Responses to “Oh Great, More CEOs Telling Us We Need to Cut Social Security and Medicare Benefits”

  1. Joel sarfati Says:

    Fixing Social Security is a no brainer. All you need to do is remove the income cap and lower the tax rate. The higher income group will pay more while the rest of us pay less. A win win situation.

  2. T.J. Hardin Says:

    I think we should leave social security and medicare alone. Start by eliminating all welfare payment and medicaid on any emigrant who does not have the properly authorized emigration papers. Put those identification paper on a card like a I
    drivers license with picture and finger print. If the do not have them then no benefits from USA.

  3. David Says:

    Medicare is much more efficient and cost effective than private insurance plans. Hospitals can bully insurance companies around because insurance companies need hospitals. If a hospital wants to greatly increase the costs of procedures tomorrow, insurance companies will have no choice but to increase their rates to pay for it.

    Medicare can refuse, medicare has so many patients that hospitals can’t refuse to accept them.

    If the retirement age is increased business will pay more in health care costs, so they’ll take those extra expenses out of workers salaries, this is the one of the main reason why pay hasn’t increased much over the past decades, companies first have to give raise money to cover insurance increases and give the worker whatever is left.

    If someone doesn’t have insurance they’ll pay and if they can’t the government will. The government won’t pay the much lower medicare costs, they’d pay the larger bill.

    It will hurt the economy and possibly increase the debt. The government should focus on decreasing health care costs.

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