Bookmark and Share
Labor's Edge: Views from the California Labor Movement

Federal, State and Local Lawmakers Join Workers and Retirees to Stand Up for the Social Safety Net

By Rebecca Band, California Labor Federation

Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid (which we call Medi-Cal in California) are literally a lifeline to our nation’s seniors, those with disabilities and low-income workers. Yet, Republicans in Congress are now threatening these vital programs by proposing devastating, unnecessary cuts as part of a manufactured “debt crisis.”

We all have someone in our lives who relies on some aspect of the social safety net to survive. Maybe it’s a grandparent who worked tirelessly for decades to support your family and is now able retire thanks to Social Security. Maybe it’s the sick child of a low-income family friend who wouldn’t be able to afford medical treatment without Medi-Cal. Maybe it’s a disabled neighbor who needs Medicare to pay for life-saving medications. Maybe it’s your spouse, or your child, or your parent... or you.

For Congressman Mike Honda, that person is his 96-year-old mother. Today in Fremont, Rep. Honda joined the Alameda Labor Council to share his family’s personal story with a crowd of nearly 100 state and local elected officials, workers, seniors and residents who rallied outside the local Social Security office to send a very important message back to DC: We need to protect our future and save Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid!

Congressman Honda:

My mom didn’t get a full education, and so to help my dad she worked as a domestic worker for 30 years. It was a dignified job because she was proud, she worked hard and she did a good job, and people respected her for doing that. I respect my mom for doing that. And so when they’re talking about Social Security and Medicare and Medicaid, they’re talking about my mom.  For me , it’s really, really personal, and it should be personal for all of us because they’re talking about the kind of investments we made…  this country made three contracts with our people – Medicaid, Medicare and Social Security. We’re not going to minimize Medicaid, were not going to voucherize Medicare, and we’re not going to privatize Social Security!

Alameda Labor Council Executive Secretary-Treasurer Josie Camacho, Congressman Eric Swalwell, State Senator Ellen Corbett, State Assemblymembers Bill Quirk and Bob Wieckowski and Fremont Mayor Bill Harrison all joined Congressman Honda and dozens of activists at the Fremont event, which was part of the “Protect Our Future”  National Day of Action. The goal is to put pressure on the obstructionists in Congress to stop their unwarranted attacks on the safety net programs and come up with real, big-picture solutions for our deficit woes that will help grow the economy – but not at the expense of the middle class.

Alameda Labor Council’s Josie Camacho recognized all of the unions, retirees and community groups who joined the Day of Action:

This is an event that’s being held here in California and also all across the nation. There are dozens of such community actions going on today so that we can make sure that Congress in DC hears our voices!

At the Fremont event, Congressman Eric Swalwell criticized the Congressional Republicans’ 90-day proposal on the debt ceiling:

Right now, we are in this era of manufactured crisis, followed by incremental solutions. For a long time, this was a country that thought big. We created Social Security, we created Medicare, we built a national highway system, and now we’re in this era with a “90 day solution” where we just kick the can down the road….what we have to do to grow our economy and grow jobs is to invest in education, workforce development and new technology that will create new jobs here. Let’s think big together!

State Assemblymember Bill Quirk:

Cutting Social Security and Medicare would not only affect seniors, it would affect everyone – it would affect the whole economy. Nobel Prize winner Paul Krugman said in his book that what we need right now is to stimulate the economy. Austerity is not the way to break out of a recession. The way to do it is through stimulus – and that means keeping Social Security, Medicare and Medi-Cal payments up as well. There are two hospitals in my neighborhood possibly going out of business because those payments are not enough as it is. We do not need cuts, we need to continue to stimulate and recover our economy.  Let’s make sure that Washington hears that NOW!

State Senator Ellen Corbett:

As a California Senator who represents the Bay Area, I feel like I’ve entered The Twilight Zone when I take a look at what Congress is doing and the way that they’re behaving -- and I want to make very clear that I’m not talking about the members of Congress who are here in present because they do care, I’m talking about those other guys. I feel there’s a stark contrast between Sacramento and Washington DC, It’s like A Tale of Two Cities. When it comes to stepping up and taking responsibility to protect our seniors, and our children, and our families here in California, we’re putting health care first! … CA is leading the nation in implementing the Affordable Care Act, unlike DC, where time is being wasted on idle threats to repeal it.

Congressman Honda:

In this nation, we make a promise to one another; when you retire, you will not age in poverty; when you are sick, you will receive healthcare; and when you have fallen on hard times, this nation will find a way to pick you up. This is a nation of ladders of opportunity and communities that care for their neighbors. Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid are the cornerstone of these promises.

View more highlights from "Protect Our Future" events across the county.

Posted on 01/30/2013Permalink

More posts by Rebecca Band

Post a Comment

We welcome your comments on this article. Please complete the form below to add to the conversation.

Please Note: California Labor Federation reserves the right to edit or remove any comment that is deemed inappropriate, off-topic, abusive or offensive.

Thank you for participating in the public dialogue!

(required)

(required: will not be made public)

Remember my personal information


To help protect our site against spam, please enter the word you see in the image below:


Notify me of follow-up comments?