Tuesday, July 03, 2012


Why do Republicans consistently vote against legislation that benefits seniors? We are familiar with the Republican war on science, women, the environment and unions, but what have they got against older Americans?
Just in case you aren't aware of how Republicans have been voting on issues that are important to seniors and retired people there is an organization that is an advocate for those very people and keeps track of how everyone in Congress votes. The Alliance for Retired Americans is a non-partisan organization whose website will tell you what bills effect seniors and how your representative voted. You can also find this information on Project Vote Smart on the web. Needless to say votes speak louder than words.

As an example, let's take my Congressman Dana Rorhabacher in the newly formed 48th Congressional District. For over 22 years Dana has been re-elected to represent a district that includes Leisure World in Seal Beach, a senior community of about 9,000 people who tend to be registered voters. Every couple of years Dana comes to Leisure World to visit the Republican Club. The message of all the great things Dana is doing is reinforced by the glossy mailers. What he doesn't mention to the good people of Leisure World is that for 22 years he has voted against their Medicare, social security, long-term care, aid to seniors in poverty, protecting their pension and even a modest raise in their minimum wage.

The Alliance for Retired Americans lists ten senior issues the House voted on in 2011. Dana and one other House Republican from California voted for seniors once and against their interests the other nine times. You might think that 10% is a terrible voting record, and it is, but the other 17 House Republicans were zero for ten!

Contrast this with the Democratic House members from California who had 31 with 100%, one with 90% and one with 80% and you see what a dramatic difference there is. Also, both Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer had a 100% rating on senior issues in their ten Senate votes.

It's not like these bills were inconsequential to seniors. The House Republicans voted to repeal the Affordable Health Care Act but were blocked in the Senate. Repeal would have cost the average senior hundreds of dollars a year in prescriptions just so HMOs and drug companies could make more profit. Then the Republicans passed a bill to block funding for health care and were blocked in the Senate.

Democrats supported funding HR 830, so seniors could stay in their homes instead of facing foreclosure but Republicans sided with the banks and voted it down. The House passed the notorious Ryan budget to essentially privitise Medicare by a 235 - 193 vote. Republicans also voted for reducing middle class benefits, including social security and Medicare.

On December 14, 2011 the House voted 261 -165 for a balanced budget amendment that would have created the sort of gridlock California has endured for decades by requiring an undemocratic 2/3 vote to pass a budget. This would allow Republicans to block any future programs that would benefit seniors and retired Americans. There were senior nutrition programs, HR 2112 the Republicans tried to slash by $400 million from low income seniors. On December 8, Republicans filibustered a bill that would have provided financial protections for seniors against unfair and abusive practices. They also filibustered a bill Democrats passed that would have allowed Americans to save money by buying prescriptions from Canada.

I don't think that Republicans really hate seniors. Seniors and retired Americans are simply the innocent victims of Republicans rigid belief that government should only spend money to benefit corporations or the military. Part of the problem is you might hear about senior issues in the headlines or on the TV news. You might have to dig around because it isn't a hot button topic. If you are a senior, or plan to be one, you need to be aware of who is voting to protect your interests and who is not. So, wake up seniors! It just makes sense to vote for the representatives who will vote for you.

1 comment:

Sheldon Swartz said...
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