October 29, 2016
Dick Long: Time to Stop Playing Games and Using Scare Tactics with Our Retirement
The following selection is from an Op-Ed article written by MIARA President Dick Long. This article first appeared in the Macomb Daily Newspaper. Michiganders who work their entire lives to support their families deserve a secure retirement. And frankly, seniors are tired of their future being used as leverage buy wannabe elected officials who want to scare others into cutting our benefits. Unfortunately, because of the rising costs of health care and the recent Republican taxation of Michiganders’ retirement benefits, many seniors struggle to get by on their fixed incomes – especially if they’re relying solely on social security. That’s why I was dismayed – but not surprised – when I heard that Macomb County’s Steve Marino, a current lobbyist who is running as a Republican for the Michigan House of Representatives, told seniors that he wanted to raise the retirement age from 65 to 75. I’m 71 years old. I worked at General Motors in Pontiac for 47 years. I remember when I started and was told that Social Security wouldn’t be available to me because the fund would dry up. That turned out to be a fallacy. It is time for people to stop playing games and using scare tactics with what we’ve worked our whole lives to achieve. We’ve heard this line from Republicans time and time again. While they hand their wealthy corporation donors sweetheart deals, they chip away at our livelihoods to pay for them. Whether it is privatizing Social Security and Medicaid or, like Marino and others have proposed, raising the retirement age, it all boils down to having the wrong priorities. It’s not just raising the retirement age that has folks concerned. Governor Rick Snyder wants to privatize mental health services in Michigan. We saw what happened when the Grand Rapids Home for Veterans was privatized: quality care went out the door and abuse and neglect were rampant. Additionally, Republicans are now gambling with Michigan’s Medicaid funding. Because conservative elected officials are hell-bent on slowing the progress of the Affordable Care Act, they risk throwing away millions in federal funding that would go to provide health care services for low-income and senior Michiganders. We cannot continually allow the services that we all rely on and have paid into our whole lives to be on the chopping block every legislative cycle. We need to stand up and protect the services that allow people the opportunity to have quality health care and a secure retirement. Seniors and working families have paid enough already. It’s time for our elected officials to make sure everyone is paying their fair share. Michigan Republicans chose to pay for their unaccountable $1.8 billion tax cut for big business back in 2011 by taxing seniors’ retirement. Now, raising the retirement age on top of that hit to our incomes would be disastrous for seniors across our state. Corporations get billions in our tax dollars every year, meanwhile they expect seniors and working families to pick up the check. Seniors have had to make some tough choices their entire lives to pay the bills and provide for their families future. Raising the retirement age is just one more hurdle to a fruitful retirement. Someone who wants to do away with seniors’ hard-earned benefits has the wrong priorities. Republicans across the board had better learn that lesson quickly and get right on the issues that matter to seniors.