WASHINGTON WATCH: Seniors, beware: Watch your backs
April 3, 2012
When Tom Brokaw wrote his book about the “Greatest Generation,” it was about people living through a depression, a world war and other major events. I was pleased by the many tributes he gave to the older Americans of that era, being one of them.
When I hear all the complaining about gas prices, I can understand it; however, during World War II, most of the time we didn’t have access to gasoline at all, at any price! I remember trying to get home one night from my defense job and running out of gas. I didn’t have any more gas ration stamps but I walked to a gas station anyway and begged for some gas at any price, but to no avail. A man who overheard my problem gave me enough ration stamps to get home. I wonder if that would happen today? Gasoline for recreational purposes was unheard of.
Food was also rationed, as many farmers went off to war. I can remember getting two eggs per week and a quart of milk if I was lucky enough to find them. How ironic it was for us that during the Depression, there was plenty of food but we couldn’t afford it. Now that we could afford it, it was rationed.
My family lost our home and automobile in the Depression, plus bank accounts, other property and everything else, but we hung in there as a family. I vowed then to grow up and get the best education I could, make good money and never be hungry again or have to wear hand-me-down clothes (three older sisters). We were going through tough times during the war, but we were Americans, and we were resilient and fiercely patriotic. We did whatever we needed to do to keep our country and our people free from a takeover by Hitler, the Japanese and our other enemies at that time.
Now you would think that after all that, the “Greatest Generation” would be thanked and could live out their last years with enough to eat, a home, health care and dignity. But think again. It seems we have people in Congress who clearly target our seniors for benefit cuts while seeking tax cuts for the wealthy. Yes I’m referring to House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan. He has rolled out his fiscal year 2013 budget and, as feared, it is a plan that would harm the middle class while providing a windfall for millionaires. Ryan wants to raise the Medicare eligibility age to 67; privatize and cut Social Security benefits; maintain earnings caps on Social Security; end Medicare as we know it; and gut Medicaid. Those 55 and older are not affected at this time, but those coming into the program are.
I will detail these issues in my next column but for now, seniors need to stay alert to what is happening in Congress and let them know that there are term limits for them and it’s called an election, and tell them that you will make changes when your benefits and those of seniors to come are threatened. The vote just came in, and GOP Reps. Mark Amodei and Joe Heck voted for the Ryan budget, and Democrat Rep. Shelley Berkley voted against it. It wasn’t unanimous, however, with 10 Republicans voting against it. Stay tuned!
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* Janice Ayres is immediate past president of the Nevada Senior Corps Association.