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Seniors plan civil disobedience to protest Social Security cuts

Joined by hundreds of supporters from community and advocacy groups – and from Occupy Chicago – dozens of seniors will block traffic Monday morning to protest proposed cuts to Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.

Following a rally and march starting at Dearborn and Adams at 10:15 a.m. on Monday, November 7, they’ll blockade the intersection of Jackson and Clark outside the Federal Plaza at 11:30 a.m..

The groups will meet later with Senator Durbin and members of the local congressional delegation “to demand a federal budget that strengthens the social safety net for low-income families” and that leaders “solve the revenue crisis by raising taxes on millionaires and closing loopholes for banks and big corporations,” according to a release.

According to reports, both Democrats and Republicans on the Senate “Supercommittee” considering a deficit reduction deal have proposed cuts to Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.

Both party’s proposals include cutting cost-of-living increases for Social Security, though costs for seniors are known to rise at a higher rate than for others.  (See the Strengthen Social Security coalition’s materials on the supercommittee and on Social Security’s COLA.)

‘Very, very angry’

“I am saddened and very, very angry at the prospect of elected officials even considering cuts to Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, or HUD programs,” writes Ruth Long, 85, of the Jane Addams Senior Caucus, in a statement.

She notes that as a young black woman in the South in the 1940s, the only job open to her was as a domestic – which was not covered by Social Security.  Her employer at a bakery in Chicago didn’t report her earnings to Social Security, and when she was forced to stop working due to health issues, Medicaid and SSI “rescued” her.

“How can legislators look at themselves and their families in the face while considering this evil deed?”  she asks.  “I am one among many senior citizens standing on the brink of despair, because we feel abandoned by the very people we worked hard in our communities to put in their respective political offices.”

A warning to Democrats

Serving on President Obama’s deficit commission last year, Durbin reversed his previous opposition to raising the age to qualify for Social Security.  As part of a senatorial “Gang of Six” earlier this year he endorsed reducing Social Security benefits and heavy cuts in Medicaid and Medicare.

And while he promised to oppose  Social Security cuts during his campaign, this summer President Obama backed raising the retirement age, reducing benefits, and cutting Medicaid and Medicare as part of a deficit reduction deal.

The Campaign for America’s Future warns Democratic politicians that they “are courting political disaster.”

“At a time when American’s are demonstrating in cities and towns across the country against growing inequality and the economic damage done by an out of control banking system, leaks from the Super Committee reveal that representatives of both parties are proposing immediate and irresponsible cuts to Medicare, Social Security and Medicaid,” according to a statement from CAF.

“The undemocratic Super Committee should be focusing how we repair the massive unemployment imposed on the 99 percent of Americans by economic policies designed to favor the top 1 percent of Americans. They should not be sending the bill for this economic devastation to the millions of American who depend — or will depend — on the crucial health care [and] Social Security systems.”

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