November 01, 2016

From NYSARA President Barry A. Kaufmann ELECTION 2016

We have arrived at what many people call “silly season” and some people refer to as the most important election in their lifetime. In this election the truth is probably both of the above. For seniors, perhaps more is at stake than at any time in the past and more things that we “assumed” to be secure might not be if some of the people in government and or running for election/re-election are successful in their quest to represent you. This is the clarion call for all 440,000 members of NYSARA as well as all seniors across New York State and this country.

The issues that seniors/retirees care about, and often make the difference between life and death and or living life with dignity, are at a crossroads.   Never before have our Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid systems been under such attack by forces claiming to want to “save” them and by people and organizations claiming to be our friends. Never before have we had an opportunity to address safe patient staffing that can and often does have life or death consequences. Retirement Security is more of an issue than ever before as falling investments and less defined benefit pensions exist.

Rep. Kevin Brady (R-CA), Chairman of the Ways & Means Committee, admits Republicans want to:

  • Raise retirement age to 70 over the next 30-35 years (decreasing benefits by 39% over the 26% decrease we are currently experiencing during the phase in of the current increase of retirement age from 65 to 67.
  • Means Testing to draw support of the rich away from Social Security
  • Institute chained CPI that would depress the Social Security COLA further than the $3-$5 increase we have seen over the last two years.

Then there are the attacks on Medicare by some Republicans in Congress that attempted to take money out of Medicare to be used for non-Medicare costs such as:

  • SGR Bill included more means testing, Medigap deductible
  • 9/11 Health bill proposed Medicare cuts – Wealthiest to pay all Med B & D premiums* – Medicaid cuts*
  • TAA proposed $750M in Medicare cuts

– $500M out of the Medicare Trust Fund*

– $250M dialysis treatment savings

*= defeated

We’ve moved the debate from 2012 when even the President was broaching Chained CPI, when no Presidential Candidate discussed and only a handful supported Social Security expansion to 2016 when Social Security Expansion was part of a major party platform, Both Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders support expansion in addition to 42 Senators & 143 Representatives.

With this unprecedented election cycle, where everything we thought we knew about civility and limits have been shaken, it is imperative that we focus on VOTING OUR INTERESTS. We must avoid giving in to sound bites and innuendo and voting based on caricatures that are created to make you hate. We need not to get sidetracked by character assassinations and revelations of issues that don’t indicate what can be expected by candidates when they govern. During this election cycle we have seen a scorched earth mentality and some unprecedented disclosures that may actually interfere with our democratic process.

We as seniors, that have given so much to our society, must stay laser focused on our issues and must block out all extraneous issues.

We need to ask simple questions:

Who will Expand and Protect Social Security –Increase the Average monthly benefit for seniors, strengthen the SS trust fund by lifting the payroll tax cap?

Who will Defend Health Care for Seniors –Allow seniors to continue to receive free annual wellness checks, lifesaving cancer screenings and other Preventive treatments through Medicare?

Who will Lower prescription Drug Costs –Close the large Doughnut hole in Rx coverage and cap what Insurers can charge consumers in out of pocket costs?

The answer in this Presidential election is very clear. The candidate that is with us on our issues is Hillary Clinton.

Imagine waking up on November 9th and finding President elect Trump presiding over a Republican Senate and House of Representatives who have been outspoken in their efforts to dismantle Social Security, voucherize Medicare and end the affordable care act while giving investment bankers and hedge fund managers a windfall by turning our retirement security over to risky volatile 401k’s that were never designed as primary retirement instruments. Seniors need to utilize their penchant for voting in higher numbers than any other demographic to make things better for seniors. Do not feel regret because you did not vote or encourage all you know and love to vote based on our issues.

If candidates for Congress (House and Senate) have not supported our issues in their votes and with their actions we must look for those that do and support them. If candidates for NYS Assembly and Senate do not support senior issues we must not vote for them. To see how your elected US representatives voted on issues important to seniors go onto our website at and click on the announcements tab at the top. To see how your NYS legislators voted click on the 2016 NYS Legislative Results on Senior Issues article on the home page.

We all need to vote and encourage all our family and friends to vote. Vote your interests do not be influenced by extraneous issues. What it really comes down to is who will be able to govern and who will protect our interests and our issues from the relentless attacks that have come in recent years.


Written by
Topics: President's Message