Communities urge elected officials to support economic, health, and retirement programs

On eve of budget showdown, communities urge elected officials to support economic, health, and retirement programs and initiatives

(Chicago) –– On Tuesday, October 30, nearly 300 grassroots community, labor, senior and disability leaders rallied for economic and retirement security.

Meeting at the Chicago Temple at 77 West Washington with members of the Chicago Legislative Delegation, the crowd called on U.S. Political Leaders from the Chicago area to support programs and initiatives that promote economic, health, and retirement security.

Approaching Election Day, the United States continues to work its way through difficult economic times. No matter the outcome on November 6, millions of people will continue to face fiscal and security challenges. While low–income people, seniors and people with disabilities are on the brink of losing their homes, retirement, and independence, pending legislation would give millions of people the tools and resources to stay in their homes, get back to work, and contribute to their communities. The coalition urged lawmakers to support policy that reinvests in communities, stimulates spending, and empowers independence.

High on the list for the coalition was Social Security. “Social Security does not add a penny to the federal deficit and should not be on the table in the upcoming deficit reduction negotiations,” said Katie Jordan, who attended the event and is the Treasurer for the Illinois Alliance of Retired Americans. “Social Security belongs to the people who have worked hard all their lives and contributed to it.” U.S. Representative Danny Davis, and U.S. Representative Jan Schakowsky, who attended the event, committed to opposing to any cuts to Social Security and to opposing raising the eligibility age for Social Security and Medicare.

On the issue of home ownership, community members urged support of HR 3841, the Principal Reduction Act of 2012, which would provide support for families with underwater mortgages to stay in their homes. ”Big Banks created the housing bubble,” said Beth Lanford, whose brother is struggling with a mortgage. “When it popped, we taxpayers bailed out the banks, but no help has come our way. Principal reduction would help keep my brother and millions like him in their homes and boost the economy at the same time.”

During the event, community advocates shared stories about the difficulty of accessing health services, keeping a roof over their heads, and making ends meet. Each story was linked to a piece of legislation or policy directive that would support millions of struggling individuals and families. Legislators were then asked to pledge support for the policy or legislation.

In terms of finding employment, community members called for support of jobs initiatives. Davis and Schakowsky both co–sponsor HR 2914, the Emergency Jobs to Restore the American Dream Act, which protects federal funding for infrastructure projects, job training, and unemployment insurance.

Beyond jobs, home security, and retirement security, the event also addressed building revenue. The communities called for support of a Robin Hood Tax that will bring in substantial revenue while protecting middle income and working class investors, and called for the expiration of the Bush Tax Cuts.

As Davis and Schakowsky showed support for the community concerns, advocates in attendance pledged to follow up with absent members of the Chicago Delegation. Before Thanksgiving, community members will deliver their demands for support to all members of the Chicago Delegation who were not in attendance. Emily Byrd, chair of Jane Addams Senior Caucus, committed to continue fighting for economic and retirement security. “What is at stake is not only senior's ability to live with dignity and economic security, but the future of our country. I will fight not just for seniors, but for my children and grandchildren.”

The event included community members from: Access Living, Illinois Alliance of Retired Americans, IIRON, Jane Addams Senior Caucus, Jobs with Justice, Lakeview Action Coalition and SEIU.
Gary Arnold
Public Affairs Manager