Press Releases
January 30, 2013

Unions and Dems to House Republicans: Stop holding families and seniors hostage in fiscal cliff talks

State’s top labor leaders, members of Congress call for closing tax loopholes for Wall Street and top 2%, no cuts to Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid


CHICAGO—The state’s top two labor leaders were joined by Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) and Congressman Bill Foster (D-IL), consumer and senior advocates and policy experts to urge closing tax loopholes for Wall Street and the richest two percent of Americans instead of cutting Medicaid, Medicare and Social Security benefits in the ongoing “fiscal cliff” negotiations.

“House Republicans should stop holding the economy hostage to push a radical agenda that decimates our most vital family protection programs,” said Jorge Ramirez, President of the Chicago Federation of Labor. “Voters rejected those ideas in the last election. Drastic cuts that will weaken our economy are not the path to recovery. Only by focusing on jobs and economic development will we achieve a full recovery and start rebuilding the middle class.”

For the second consecutive year, Republicans are threatening to make the U.S. government default on its obligations in order to make drastic cuts to Social Security, Medicaid, Medicare and other areas, while protecting corporations and the wealthiest two percent of Americans.

“We need to address the real causes of our long-term budget imbalance—wasteful cuts for the wealthy, tax loopholes for corporations and rising costs throughout our health care system—and not use the national debt as a pretext to pursue unrelated agendas,” said Michael Carrigan, President of the Illinois AFL-CIO.

Congress passed a temporary deal to extend for three months the federal government’s borrowing authority. But tough decisions lay ahead in the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate to reach a long-term solution.

“All of us who believe in restoring the middle class and helping all Americans climb out of poverty need to make sure that decisions that are made are the right ones,” said Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky. “We need to create good jobs, protect Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, and make investments in education, infrastructure and research that strengthen the middle class. We need to raise more revenues from those who can afford to pay, including the wealthy and rich corporations shipping jobs overseas. And we need to stand strong against Republicans who are openly threatening to hold the full faith and credit of the United States hostage.”  

Working families and seniors would pay a steep price if benefits are slashed. In Illinois, 2,033,345 individuals receive monthly Social Security checks, 1,789,800 get their health care coverage from Medicare and 2,698,787 get their health care coverage from Medicaid, including 1,469,950 children.

 “We are proud to stand with our allies on this national day of action to call for fair taxes on corporations, not cuts in vital middle class programs,” said William McNary, Co-Director of Citizen Action/Illinois. “It is wrong to reduce the deficit on the backs of the middle class by cutting vital programs such as education, Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security.”

“Once again, Republicans are ignoring the real problems facing our economy and demanding cuts to Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. But retirees and working families need more economic security, not less,” said Katie Jordan, Treasurer of the Illinois Alliance for Retired Americans.  “Seniors greatly depend on their monthly Social Security check to pay for groceries, housing, gas and basic needs. And Medicare helps seniors afford to see their doctor and fill their prescriptions. Many seniors simply cannot go without these basic and moderate benefits.”

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