WASHINGTON WATCH : New House bill hurtful for seniors

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I have been watching for bills in Congress that impact our seniors negatively and came across HR 2576, which amends the Internal Revenue code so that Social Security benefits would now be included in calculating eligibility for tax credits for health care coverage under the new health care law. The Congressional Budget Office has estimated that about 500,000 people would lose coverage if this bill became law, most of whom are retirees and people with disabilities who receive Social Security benefits.

On Oct. 27 this bill passed the U.S. House of Representatives by a vote of 262-157. Guess who voted yes? None other than our two Republican representatives, Joe Heck and Mark Amodei. Shelley Berkley voted against it.

Wait a minute - isn't Amodei the guy who recently based his whole campaign on his support for seniors, and said that when elected he would support all bills that helped seniors, and vote against those that didn't? He said he retracted any statements that he had previously made regarding support for Rep. Paul Ryan on his plan to eliminate all entitlements.

Well, HR 2576 was highly supported by none other than Paul Ryan, who voted for it both in the Ways and Means Committee and on the House floor. You can confirm this for yourselves by going to http://clerk.house.gov/evs/2011/roll813.xml.

What happened here? Did Amodei forget his promises? Of course not - he has always voted straight party line and he will continue to do so. Campaign promises are only to get you elected and then conveniently forgotten.

HR 2576 now goes to the Senate and, with our help and others, it would do well to die there.

Let Reps. Heck and Amodei know that you are disappointed in their vote for HR 2576 (Heck at 202-225-3252, and Amodei at 202-225-6155).

Also, contact Sens. Dean Heller and Harry Reid and ask them to vote against the bill when it comes to the Senate. You can reach Heller at 202-224-6244 and Reid at 202-224-3542. Then follow up on how they voted, or I can let you know as I intend to follow up.

I read a column in last Sunday's Appeal that I thought was uncalled for when the writer called seniors "Gimme Gimmes," wanting everything. While I certainly believe that columnists should feel free to write whatever they please, characterizing all seniors as selfish money-grubbers and part of what is wrong with the economy isn't right. Obviously this writer hasn't traveled the rural areas of Nevada and witnessed, as I have, seniors living in poverty and without proper medications and nutrition because their total incomes are $500 or less a month Social Security. While this columnist was blaming a multitude of people for the economy, he never once mentioned the cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, nor the tax breaks that billionaires receive, nor the loopholes that allow industry giants to never pay a dime in taxes or the Wall Street fiascoes.

Again, I support the First Amendment to the Constitution with all my heart and soul, but can't we be a little nicer to our seniors who have done so much for this country for so little in return? Like the bumper sticker says, "Getting old isn't for sissies" - and indeed it isn't. Seniors have to fight every step of the way. Stay tuned.

• Janice Ayres is president of Nevada Senior Corps Association.


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