FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: October 16, 2012 | Contact: Jaron Benjamin, (718) 864-3932 (cell)
View photos online or scroll down below.
New York, NY – New Yorkers rallied inside the lobby of Senator Schumer’s New York City office today calling on him to protect Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security during budget negotiations to avoid the fiscal cliff and automatic budget cuts that take effect at the end of the year. Holding a giant spine and dozens of signs about the revenue crisis, they chanted: “Hey Schumer, you’re halfway there, tax the rich but don’t cut Medicare.”
On October 9th, Senator Schumer delivered a high-profile speech calling for an end to the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy and the need to raise revenue. At the same time, however, he said the way to make members of congress “come to the table around a grand bargain should be the potential for serious entitlement reform,” code for weakening Medicaid, Medicare and Social Security that people living with HIV/AIDS and millions of other people with disabilities and seniors rely on.
“Senator Schumer has half of the equation right – we need to ask the rich to pay their fair share to get our country back on track,” said Robert Tolbert, a VOCAL-NY Board member who receives Medicare and Social Security. “But he gets off track when he suggests ‘entitlement reform’ as part of a grant bargain, which we all know is code for weakening Medicare, Medicaid and Security. We’re delivering Schumer a spine so he stands up for ordinary New Yorkers, not the beltway elite.”
“The fact is there’s no entitlement crisis, there’s a revenue crisis,” said Hiawatha Collins, a VOCAL-NY Bard member who is an unemployed veteran and receives Medicaid. “Our deficit has grown because of two unfunded wars, the Bush tax cuts and the financial crisis that started on Wall Street. It’s just a bait and switch to say the problem is healthcare for the poor, people with disabilities and seniors.”
What’s behind the recent drive for a “grand bargain” are automatic, across-the-board budget cuts and tax increases on the horizon, referred to as sequestration and the fiscal cliff. These cuts would devastate New York by killing jobs and unraveling our safety net.
The advocates called for an alternative approach that includes reversing the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy, closing tax loopholes for Wall Street and enacting a Robin Hood Tax on financial speculation would generate enough revenue to invest human needs and create jobs.
VOCAL-NY is a statewide grassroots membership organization building power among low-income New Yorkers to end the HIV/AIDS crisis, mass incarceration and the drug war.