Seniors Wonder : Can Angie Craig Be the Betty McCollum of #MN02 ?

Minnesota seniors are beginning to wise up to John Kline’s “lip service” especially after Chairman Kline inserted a provision in the “must-pass” CRomnibus legislation that allowed earned pension benefits to be cut.

Although AARP and the Pension Rights Center cried foul, it was enacted by the Republican-controlled House.

The Star-Tribune provided reactions from shocked Minnesotans :

“They’ve sneaked this in,” Dave Erickson said. “They don’t have the guts to come out and tell us they’re taking our money. It makes me sick. The pension payment was something I counted on.”

64-year-old retired truck driver Jeff Brooks said he felt betrayed. Brooks spent 39 years driving, including 20 as a Teamster. What Kline is doing “seems like a shabby way to handle this,” he said.

76-year-old Bob McNattin of Minneapolis echoed Brooks. McNattin said he knows that young workers worry “there will be nothing there when they retire.” But what is happening “is cynical as hell,” he said. “It has a lot to do with why approval of Congress is in single digits.”

That’s John Kline looking out for corporate interests who want him to remain a Washington power.

Karen Friedman, the executive vice president of the Pension Rights Center, saidWe’re totally outraged by this legislative deal, which was done in the middle of the night.” She says it sets a precedent that could weaken the protections of Social Security.
Alicia Munnell, director of Boston College’s Center for Retirement Research, says the change “is letting the genie out of the bottle. Once it becomes legal to cut accrued benefits, then it’s a different world. It’s really precedent-making change.”

OK … so that was last session … but this new session began with the House Republicans and their increased majority, changing House rules regarding Social Security.

It is difficult to believe that there is any purpose to this unprecedented change to House rules other than to cut benefits for Americans who have worked hard all their lives, paid into Social Security, and rely on their Social Security benefits, including disability, in order to survive,” said Max Richtman, president of the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare. Advocates for older Americans are warning that the rule could be used to help push through benefit cuts, especially since House Republicans have opposed raising taxes.

Washington-power John Kline voted with 233 other Republicans to allow this change.

Yep, it 2015 and John Kline is working behind to the curtain to “reform” programs that today’s seniors thought were sacred.

Yep, 2015 which marks the 80th anniversary of Social Security, the 50th anniversaries of Medicare and Medicaid and the 50th anniversary of the Older Americans Act.

Yep, “lip service” is what John Kline offers … telling his constituents that he is “protecting” pensions while allowing cuts in benefits … much as he professes his support for “protecting” Social Security and Medicare.

Heck, even the provisions established under the Older Americans Act are at risk.

Heck, Chairman Kline has ignored efforts to reauthorize the program … letting two bills die in his committee last session H. R. 3850 : Older Americans Act Reauthorization of 2014 and H.R. 4122 : The Older Americans Act Reauthorization Act of 2014.
The five year reauthorization of the Older Americans Act focuses particularly on nutrition programs such as Meals on Wheels, transportation services, support for family caregivers, community service and job training and services to prevent senior abuse and neglect.

As Tom Reed (R-NY-23) said announcing his support for the reauthorization, “With such a significant senior citizen population in our area, we need fair legislation that protects and supports them. The Older Americans Act is something my colleagues on both sides of the aisle should join in supporting and help move the bill across the finish line. Let’s make this commitment to care for seniors to help them stay healthy and safe.”

Chairman Kline ignored the plea … heck, John Kline even voted to gut $40 Billion from food nutrition programs, some of which are designed to support seniors.
FYI : the Older Americans Act nutrition program reaches those in critical need. In the home-delivered program, it is estimated that 44% in the program are in poverty, 52% are at high nutritional risk and almost two-thirds rely on the meals for half or more of their daily food intake. In the congregate program, 58% rely on the meal for half or more of their daily food intake. Today, the average age of a congregate meal participant is in the upper 70s; for the home-delivered program it rises to the low 80s.

Ignoring issues is something that he has done for years … despite the pleas from Minnesota Congresswoman Betty McCollum … as expressed in her 2011 speech

Yep, seniors are beginning to appreciate what Chairman Kline did to “reform” the student loan program ( the student loan interest rate program which what was 3.4% before “reform” and is now 4.66% and forecasted to increase.)

Yep, seniors in Minnesota’s Second District hear Betty McCollum and why don’t we have someone who understands Minnesotans needs (not Washington power brokers).

Yep, seniors in Minnesota’s Second District will want to hear from Angie Craig about her views on seniors issues.

For those who have not heard, Angie Craig has announced her decision to challenge Chairman Kline in 2016 elections, citing his increasingly disappointing voting record.
Craig called Chairman Kline “out of touch” with residents of the Second District. “I don’t think that represents who we are,” she said. “I believe we need new perspectives and leaders willing to work toward progress more than ever.”

FYI : Angie is actively involved in the Twin Cities community, including serving as a current board member of Open Arms of Minnesota (which is involved in food assistance) and as a member of the Eagan Rotary. She formerly served as a board member of the Twin Cities American Heart Association and has chaired the Twin Cities Go Red campaign (see the video below). She has also served on the Board of the St. Paul Chamber of Commerce.

Angie Craig appears to look to Minnesota’s needs first … so, here is an easy prediction : John Kline will advance a bill to reauthorize the Older Americans Act so that he can say he did it (aka “lip service”) … the question should be why did it take so long and will it be funded adequately ?