Sunday, November 8, 2015

Seniors, Tighten Your Belts (Again)

Once again, the republicans in Congress have decided that those who are trying to eke out a subsistence have got to try a little harder.  Just as Nikki Haley will give away millions to big corporations but wants to make sure each struggling artist or eBay seller pays taxes on their labors, the US Congress is determined not to let anyone who is not a millionaire catch a break.

Hence the decision to withhold the annual COLA (cost-of-living adjustment) to seniors and veterans.  Their rationale is the decline in the price of gas.  So if you have been able to catch some relief at the gas pumps, our republican Uncle Scrooges are going to make sure we make up for it elsewhere.

The formula they use is based on the cost of living for a portion of the general public, not seniors, who are spend less money on gas than the public as a whole.  What they will be spending more money on in these years of extreme heat and extreme cold is heating fuel and electricity.  They will spend more money on medical bills (The affordable care available through Obamacare is NOT available to those 66 and over; Medicare may once have been affordable, but republicans have been chipping away at those benefits for decades.).  Those who have a car will see car insurance increase and will pay for costly repairs on older cars; housing -- insurance, maintenance, rental costs -- none of those are going down.

Meanwhile, Congress continues to allow corporations to deduct raises for CEO pay in an egregious tax loophole.  CEO's with an annual income of $16 million on average will be seeing raises of 3.9% this year, and those raises will be subsidized by the taxpayer.

Elizabeth Warren explains this large piece of legislative hypocrisy far better than I could:

This is why Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders are cosponsoring a bill that would close that corporate loophole, and use the tax income derived from it for a one-time payout to social security recipients and veterans to cover what they would have gotten from a COLA.

The problem, of course, is that our republican Congress, squealing over government waste and entitlements, is unlikely to pass a bill that would close a loophole for their corporate constituents.  But we can let them know we know what they are up to.  We can make our voices heard and insist that they pass this Senate bill.  We can let our friends, families and coworkers know that seniors are struggling without a COLA this year while CEO millionaires and billionaires are getting a tax-deductible raise.

We can write and call our legislators, Graham and Scott.  We can write letters to the editor telling our legislators to stop cutting senior and veterans benefits while pandering to wealthy CEO's.  We can tell them to support the SAVE Benefits Act.

Let's make it hard for them to ignore us.  And let's also let their hypocrisy be known.

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