April 21, 2006
Is Congress turning against seniors? The Alliance for Retired Americans thinks so. It says the current Congress has "proved to be yet another direct assault on the quality of life for retirees."
In its annual voting record analysis, the organization said it found that 39% of U.S. Representatives and 40% of U.S. Senators scored 0% on such issues as Medicare, retiree benefits, tax breaks and pensions.
In fact, a majority of Republicans scored 0%. Notable politicians who received a score of 0% included Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania and Rep. Katherine Harris of Florida, each facing a tough Senate race in 2006.
Since releasing its first voting record in 2001, the Alliance said it has documented a disturbing trend of anti-senior sentiment in Congress. The trend continued in 2005. Scoring 60% or below constitutes a failure to stand up for seniors - and 53% of the House and 56% of the Senate received scores below a passing grade.
There was a clear distinction along party lines. While Republicans in both the House and Senate scored an average of 6%, Democrats averaged 95% in the House and 98% in the Senate.
"With so many Republicans scoring zero in both the House and Senate, but no Democrats scoring zero in either chamber, Republicans have a lot of catching up to do to be considered a friend to retirees," said George J. Kourpias, President of the Alliance.
"Congress had several opportunities to make senior-friendly changes, such as allowing the Medicare program to negotiate for lower drug prices, extending the enrollment period without penalty, and lowering rebates to drug manufacturers. It didn't take advantage of those opportunities," said Edward Coyle, the Alliance's Executive Director.
"The only politicians who will be mentioning Medicare this election year will be those who saw these problems and voted to fix them."
"Rather than fix the obvious flaws in the Part D drug program before chaos ensued," Kourpias echoed, "this Republican-controlled Congress elected to deepen the deficit crisis and play favorites with America's most wealthy by rewarding them with tax cuts, at the expense of retirees and seniors."
Seniors represent a crucial voting bloc, which votes in larger numbers than any other segment of the population, and the Alliance, which is affiliated with the AFL-CIO, said it plans to educate and mobilize retirees across the country to elect a more senior-friendly Congress in November.
To see the Alliance vote breakdown for each member of Congress, see www.retiredamericans.org/votingrecord.