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The Debt Ceiling Plan: How Will it Affect Vulnerable Seniors?

After months of negotiations, Congress and President Obama have agreed on a package to increase the nation’s debt ceiling and cut the federal budget.

What does the plan mean for seniors who are struggling to make ends meet? As with any compromise, there’s both good news and bad news.

First, the good news: Your voice made a difference!

Thanks to advocates like you, there will be no immediate cuts to benefits for people with Medicare. Also, low-income programs like Medicaid and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) will not be cut now and are exempt from potential automatic cuts later.

President Obama now has the authority to increase the debt ceiling, which means there will be no disruption in sending out Social Security and veterans’ benefits checks.

And, although the plan calls for trillions in spending cuts, the first $10 billion over the first two years must be split evenly between domestic programs and defense programs.

Now, the bad news: Vital programs are still at risk.

Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security could still be cut. As part of the plan, Congress will appoint a new, 12-member bipartisan “super committee” that will be charged with finding another $1.2 to $1.5 trillion in cuts. If Congress does not approve the committee’s plan by Dec. 23, automatic across-the-board cuts will start by Jan. 1, 2013.

Older Americans Act (OAA) and other domestic programs that millions of seniors depend on—for basic needs such as meals, transportation, employment, and housing—are at great risk for multiple and significant cuts at every point in this budget-cutting process.

What happens next?

While we’ve protected vulnerable seniors from an immediate threat, we still have lots of work to convince Congress to protect them from future cuts.

Your Senators and Representatives need to hear from you about why these programs matter. Here’s how you can help:

  1. Share successes and challenges—In the comment space below, tell us about a senior program in your community that makes a real difference in helping older adults remain economically secure. Share the program’s successes, but also the challenges it faces with limited funding and increased demand.
  2. Talk to your members of Congress during the August recess—Your lawmakers are coming home to their districts this month through Labor Day. Many will be holding town halls and community events—and they want to hear from you. Attend an event, ask questions, and talk about what you’re seeing in your community. Explain the One Away campaign and what it means to you. Use our 9 Tips for Town Hall Meetings to make the most of your visit.

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Marci Phillips is the Director of Public Policy and Advocacy at the National Council on Aging. She is responsible for federal advocacy efforts regarding legislation and appropriations affecting the Older Americans Act, economic security, older workers, and other community services for older Americans.

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Comments on this Post

  • The way t is set up, failure by the board,evenly divided, means deadlock and auto cuts in the budget - it lets congress & the president off the hook. Their comment will be "what could we do - it's the board's fault". The board was set up to fail!
    The creation of the board was to get past a sticky point and leave the mess until after the election.
    Owen Hackensack, NJ
  • CSBG is so vitally important to our community because it supports our Sr. Adult Center and their programs that feed the elderly, keep their health and sanity with many many programs that do not need to be cut. Medicare and Medicaid is the lifeline for many of us and we will just die early without our much earned health care and very very basic needs to live. Lawmakers are so out of touch with people like me that they make me ill to see them in the papers and television talking about things they know nothing about except some goofy report that has been given to them by some underling. People like me need to be on the Super Committee too and really give the Senators an earfull of what is actually going on. Why don't they cut their own salaries and benefits and take their medical benefits and to-die-for retirement benefits? Susan Malvern, AR
  • I feel like we middle class have been sold out again and laid to waste for the benifit of the rich...the motto of the republican is the rich keep getting richer and the poor keep getting poorer, I would like for the Democratic's to take over the floor agian b/c since the repugs have taken it over it has been the party of NO, no to everything that can help this country and I have watched this country fall to it's knee's and crash with no jobs, no healthcare, no medicare, no education, but yes to the rich tax cuts, yes to cutting medicare, yes to cutting education, yes to cutting jobs, yes to every kind of evil that can hurt this country and the middle class but help the rich..I am so sick of it and them. I am so sick of the Republican's and not so happpy with the Democratics either b/c I don't see them fighting for the people with the exception of Mr. Bernie Sanders, he is a true Democratic and an example that other Democratics should follow. I am sick of Congress point blank, with both sides right now, they have let this country down and sold us out again. The teabaggers are not much of a party either, they are a party of scare everyone and I don't like their tactics at all, they son't scare me at all b/c I can see right thru them but alot of people cannot and fall short to what they say and believe them b/c they are confused, I have to tell them all the time what they are up to to let them know and not to listen to them and tehn show them Mr. Bernie Sanders. They are blowen away by him and by his courage to stand up to Washington...thank you Mr. Sanders for your courage...I do believe in him and what he says to you people in Washington... Helen Sherman, TX
  • I sincerely hope you will all remember this come next election. By the comments I am reading most of you seem disgusted with the GOP and the Tea Baggers, this is their agenda cut, cut, cut. The cuts are coming on the backs of Americans that need it most people on medicare, social security and medicaid, now they want to cut meals for older seniors. Disgraceful. I keep on telling my family, I am Social Security, I am Medicare, I am before the 401k's, IRA's, TSA's and Roth IRA's. What part of that doesn't the Republican Party and the Tea Baggers understand. Why have they done this to our country, because we have a Black President, that's it nothing more. The Tea Baggers are nothing more than the new face of the Klu Klux Klan, if I hurt some feelings when I say that "TOUGH", then you can't handle the truth, because that's really what you are, masquerading behind a tea bag instead of a hood . Your a bunch of sorry a$$ old white folk that has their knickers in a twist becuase there's a black man in the white house, get over it (FYI: I am white). Now you've succeeded in having America's Credit Rating Lowered, does that make you happy? Because you have no idea what this will do to our country and our economy and your pocketbooks as well. It's hte old story of cutting off your nose to spite yourself, are you having fun yet?By the way, where's all the Jobs the GOP & Tea Baggers promised us last year, I haven't seen one yet. I have no intention of forgetting this come next election, or the next, or the next and make no mistake about it the GOP has been against Social Security and Medicare since these programs began but they didn't hesitate to rape and pilege them every chance they had for their benefit. It is the agenda of the Tea Party and the GOP to destroy these programs or as they call them "entitlements". Here's a news flash for you boys, I worked for 44 years for those "entitlements" and guess what I am entitled, suck it up. anne glenside, PA
  • The Republicans and the Tea Party Bullies should not be reelected. I will make sure that this is their last term, especially that Mitch McConnell, John Behner, ERic Kantor and all the other Tea Baggers, and Republicans that decided to hold America hostage, and bost about "what they got" Since they think we are STUPID, America it's time to take a stand Dr. C. Huntington Beach, CA
  • The Republicans and the Tea Party Bullies should not be reelected. I will make sure that this is their last term, especially that Mitch McConnell, John Behner, ERic Kantor and all the other Tea Baggers, and Republicans that decided to hold America hostage, and bost about "what they got" Since they think we are STUPID, America it's time to take a stand and let them know, if they're going after Entitlements, and allow the rich to stay rich, the wealthy to get wealthier, and the poor to become poorer, we have got a surprise for them, A BIG ONE. WE ARE NOT GOING TO TAKE IT. TRUST US, WE ARE AMERICAN'S AND WE STAND FOR SOMETHING. I am very disappointed in this Congress, they are really horrible and disrespectful to the President. Republican's think American's are stupid. Sister
  • Congress (the lawyer's of America) seem to forget that the President signs the law, he does not make the law. All that arguing, stealing from the poor to give to the rich (already rich) is about as ridiculous as anything I have seen. They talk about establishing a law to stop children from being bullied in school; yet they are the very little one's who have grown up to become Congressional bullies holding the American people hostage, not caring if we have anything to live on. They are trying to rob the already vulnerable senior citizen of their entitlement. Have they forgotten that they too live in America and their neighbors, grandparents, and one day themselves (oh yea, I forgot they're not going to need it) are going to want the very thing they are taking from the low income and the middle class. Why in the heavens can't they stop lining the pockets of the already rich, and those that pay not one ounce of tax, if any and change that law that they are fighting so hard to keep in place. If we are all equal, why don't they pay taxes. We have seen their behavior and no, as Americans we don't like it. They are the school bullies that grew up to be the Congressional Bullies of America. I am sorry to say that other countries are laughing at us, watching how we behave with each other, and asking themselves "what could they possibly want from us, when we can't work together for the common good of our people"? Why should they call on America for anything. Since the Tea Party have come on board, this country have gone to the dogs. If I could open the Boston Harbor, oh yes indeed, into the harbor they would go without a paddle. They are sickening. But, it's also America's fault because they voted them in expecting change, but they did not understand what kind of change they were getting. Now they know. End result, America needs help because this Congress is extremely inefficient, uncaring, and to say the least, pis-poor. Cee
  • speak out do your part now www.whitehouse.gov www.congress.gov demand they FIGHT HARDER TO BEAT
    H & D
  • This GOP Tea Bagger forced deal made under duress, threat of default is truly sickening No end to corp loopholes- subsides. NO end to Bush cuts . Boehner bragged They got 98 % of what they wanted ! GOP Tea Baggers are destroying US economy, jobs, middle class, education. Corp welfare- failed wars- lies- greed- must end. All Wars must end asap H & D
  • I am not a usual older American. I continue to work and having savings. I also have through no fault of my own a genetic disease. The drugs alone cost more than 200,000 dollars a year. Today I like my fellow elders live in fear for our future and our health. Your bickering and brinksmanship have left us living in fear for our health and our futures. Please think of the nation and not yourselves. xxxx yyy, CA
  • This deal is a game of Russian Roulette with our lives. Mr. President, we need your protection more than ever. Please don't lose the election to a teabagger or a Republican. You are all we have and we need you desperately. Please take a tough stand for us and stop letting the bullies call the shots. Our futures, or lack of any future, depends on it. The Rs are out to destroy you and they don't care if they destroy us too. Bullies do not play fair, and I hope you have now figured that out. So fight back like they do. You cannot be Mr. Niceguy to a bully, they use it as weakness and come after you even harder; they are relentless; and we may end up paying for their nasty deeds in the long run. They are sneaky and devious, they will sneak in any thing they can to take you down, and to take us down too. What happens is in your hands, don't let the bullies bite them. Barbara Niles, MI
  • we can help older, poor citizens by making the wealthy pay their fair share. President made the biggest mistake of his tenure by not repealing the tax break for the wealthy. It is ridiculous that at the very, worst money time that we should be giving tax breaks to the very rich while the poor are desperate.....and these people CLAIM to be Christian and even more so, many EVANGILISTS. What a joke! June Bethlehem, PA
  • My mom has MS and is on disability, she says she's in the donut-hole. She can barely afford her medicine and medical costs. Yet social security is not matching cost of living expenses and has not neen raised in two years. Why are the very rich and fat cat corporations not being taxed? I vote and protest and nothing seems to change- I wish more Americans were aware and actually voted! Tracey
  • We the little people did not cause this mess the stupid greedy politions in office caused this mess, so why in the hell do we have to suffer for their greed, why do we have to pay for their mistakes, whe you have a credit card limit, you can't charge beyond that, "right?" so why did these idiots get to get away with it? They should have to pay for this out of their own money!!!! go with out, like we do!!! what makes them so privledged to think they can get away with this mess they caused our country, You want more homeless, and discontent then take away all of the social and vetrens benifits, Remember the boston tea party, we didn't like the king of England to tax our tea so threw it over board!!! we should take those politions and throw them over board, as punishment for causing this MESS!!!!!!!!
  • A “LUXURY TAX” is the way to fix Social Security. Place a hefty "LUXURY TAX" on the very wealthy when they purchase yachts, Rolls Royces, Bentleys, Mansions, private planes, and helicopters to commute into NYC.

  • I was the Senior Coordinator for a Suburb of Chicago and developed programs for the Seniors and handicapped residents of our Village. I became painfully aware of the lack of resources for Seniors as they contacted me on a daily basis for assistance. They needed help with applying for services they were entitled to receive but didn't know how to go about getting them. They needed help with food, transportation, paying their taxes, understanding their medical bills and prescriptions, finding someone to help them take care of aging parents when they were ill themselves. Needing to go in the hospital and having no one to care for a sick spouse because they couldn't to pay someone to stay with them. And the list goes on and on as Seniors discovered that without family, friends, or a caring Church to assist them, they were alone and on their own. This is the plight of many baby boomers and it will only get worse. We are not even scratching the surface of the problem and as usual we are going to have a rude awakening when all of these aging citizens stop spending money on food, clothing and all of the things that have contributed to the GNP up to now, because they have no way to get to the store, no money to spend at the store, and no one to help them. Gwendolyn IL
  • What we need to do, folks, is become better informed and stop wringing our hands, pick up pens and write to our legislators - demanding they begin to listen to us. We seniors cannot sit in the rocking chair any longer - we need to participate in the discussion, as seniors who still think and make decisions! The GOP considers us has-beens and discount us as viable citizens. We need to be visible and vocal. If you can comment on this page, you can write to your Rep and Senator. Do so. Don't let the GOP speak for you...Speak UP! Wilma Oroville, CA
  • President F D Roosevelt, A DEMOCRAT, wanted the American people to have health insurance, retirement, job security, paid vacation, and affordable housing....all the things that the European countries got after the war. All those wonderful things that mean Human Rights that the European countries have and the Republicans and American Idiots call Socialism and Communism. Instead, we have poverty, unemployment, no health insurance, homelessness, no job security, and the two entitlement programs instituted by DEMOCRATIC presidents ie Social Security and Medicare threatened, while the billionaire corporations and the Republican Senators that vote to benefit them and only them become richer and richer. What is going on in America is a total disgrace. Go ahead, keep voting Republican and screw yourselves a little bit more each time. Too bad you are taking me down with you. A working man voting republican is like a chicken supporting Colonel Sanders. Diana
  • We should be lowering the retirement age,not raising it,and Medicare should be the one payer system the entire country needs.
    This country has gotten so far from what it used to be,that it is a disgrace. We need to take care of the American citizens, not corporations. If not,the United States of America will cease to exist.
    Linda Washington, PA
  • Why do you write articles like this except to scare seniors so they will continue to vote for liberals who make false promises. Both social security and Medicare are separate from the regular budget. Raising the debt ceiling did nothing to save these programs. Oh yah, and anyone that believes taxing rich people will solve our problems, please tell me how that creates jobs? Our country will continue to plummet into a third world economy as long as there are no jobs for Americans. Queenie
  • Doesn't Pres.Obama know that he is being used by the Republicans. They want him to look bad so he wont get in again and I, for one will NOT vote for him like I did the first time. When you want something, you do everything in your power to make yourself look good;instead he (1)took away the seniors COLA (2) took away the HEAP GRANT (3)wanted to take away or cut seniors Social Security checks(4) has not even tried to create jobs for Americans. I could go on and on and on,but I probably only have a few characters left. Pres.Obama,you are the big 50 today-grow up and look around you and think. Think what you are doing to America. You're running us into the ground. Pres.Bush was not the best President,but he never took anything away from us like you did. We wont forget you come election time. Whatever goes around,comes around. Barbara Forest Hills, NY
  • hey, if these get cut, then there will be a huge uprising. maura bpt.,, CT
  • It is pure ignorance and insanity to cut programs that help the seniors stay home and take care of themselves. The alternatives, sickness, homelessness, and nursing homes are much more expensive. Mary Crescent City, CA
  • Meals on Wheels an the COA !!!!! Terms for Congress and the Senate. Take all the perks they have, I do not see them taking a interest in their job we pay them for. Roberta DeLand , FL
  • I don't understand how ANYONE could allow services(for the elderly) particularly "Meals on Wheels" to expire. This is unthinkable. Patricia Sheridan, OR
  • Congress needs to look at their costs, (salaries, number of assistants they have, "junkets" to other countries etc. before they start cutting the programs that help the people who elected them! Lois
  • Something still has to be done about the high cost of medicines. My husband and I have been in the donut hole for the last five years. Eventually the medicine will have to go if prices don't get regulated. Joan M. Racine, WI
  • There is no excuse to cut any human service program; tax billionaires and even millionaires and CORPORATIONS!!!!!
    While you are at it create jobs.
    Mary Philadelphia
  • Don't cut medicare or social security with out it we couldn't make it. benjamin
  • I'd like to know what they expect us to do. Savings are gone! Retirement is gone. I could take early SS next year but I don't even know we will all be here next year. We need to take every single on of them out and replace them They don't seem to be living in the real world. They voted themselves to be able to get SS but they don't pay a penny into the fund. These were guaranteed funds I've been paying into since I was 15 for God sakes! Maybe if they hadn't dipped into the SS funds and used it for other things so many times, the money might still be there. They are all on taxpayer salaries their entire lives just because they were voted into office and they sit up there and vote themselves a raise when everyone else is looking at an abyss. And now, after they did a little work they take off for 6 weeks? Take their lifetime salaries away...take their privilidges to SS away, and let them eat on $16 a month in food stamps. What a way to treat us! Disgusting excuses for human beings.... Margaret NC
  • Meals on Wheels and Hope of Hardee, are a part of Hardee County, FL. We need these programs for our seniors, and would hate to see them be cut....My mother had these until she went into a nursing home and i was so grateful for them. Suzanne Ona, FL
  • Americans need to make our congress understand that they are for the people and the people are not for their personal wants. If we decide to come from the union as the south did in the Civil War then we shall see how ragged and jagged our government has become. All of those fictious congressmen with all of their prevarications for each section of the country is sickening. Women like the former governor of Alaska parading around like she is still MISS AMERICA, yet teaching Racial hatreds without actually coming out and saying it. To hear the speaker of the house braggin about how he got what he wanted. He wants to protect the Rich of this country. Congress still has a job to come back to when their leave is over. I pray that Americans will wke up and recognize that our ENEMIES are congress. L. Fort Washington, MD
  • We, the true americans need to remove John Boehner, Eric Kantor, Mich MeConnell, and all the TEA PARTY MEMBERS from office. congress needs term limits like the President. We need a new congress which includes both parties. this congress is a part of the New World Organization whose goal it seems is ro destroy America. Our congress is a part of this determential act. We can show our strength throught the vote before they take that away. Boehner and his flse tears are sickening. White America you need to STAND UP. You have never allowed this activity before. Where are the real men of America> they have a;; been exterminated through being sent to free other countries while America suffers. L. Fort Washington, MD
  • The Republicans keep saying that they need to change Medicare, and Social Security, like they were indulging Seniors with somekine of Welfare!
    Every Medicare and Social Security payment has been paid for by the Worker thru payroll taxes since these programs began. I have paid for Social Security since my first job at the age of 14 yrs. And Medicare since it's inception in 1965. Plus Social Security has not contributed to the deficiet at all. It is a plot t take everything sacred from retired elders and give it all the corporate Fascists. I object!
    Phyllis Pasco, WA
  • I recommend MASSIVE demonstrations on the Weekend to Washington, DC. Also, MASSIVE demonstration at Congressional Offices in the city.

    We need to tell them to cut military, wars, foreign aid, and outsourcing (bring the tax payments back here). We need to tell them in black and white what the numbers are and how they affect us. Most of us have to live on entitlements. We are ENTITLED to them because we EARNED THEM. Money was taken out of our paychecks involuntarily for them. And I PAID DOUBLE because I am a freelancer. I never minded that because I felt it was helping poor people but now I am furious about the idea of these cuts. We need to let them know that we will NOT vote for anybody who even entertains the idea of entitlement cuts.

    If you want any designs contact me at bsp8@rcn.com

    I make designs for protest signs and banners.

    Ms. Billie M. New York, NY
  • (1) Balance the federal budget by ending the wars of fascist capitalist aggression in the Middle East and North Africa.
    (2) Balance the federal budget by removing all of the fascist capitalist war machine, i.e. the American military, from the Middle East, North Africa, South America, Europe and the Western Pacific.
    (3) Balance the federal budget by drastically downsizing the fascist capitalist war machine.
    (4) Balance the federal budget by ending all of the pork-barrel new weapons programs for the fascist capitalist war machine. In all cases the capitalist war machine doesn't have a need for these new weapons. The only reason they are being developed is to provide a market for American armaments corporations.
    (5) Balance the federal budget by closing all 900+ foreign military bases used by the fascist capitalist war machine.
    (6) Balance the federal budget by outlawing and disbanding all of the extremely expensive private fascist armies such as Blackwater, DynCorp and Blackhawk.
    (7) Balance the federal budget by ending all military aid for the Philippines, Egypt, Israel, Iraq, South Korea, Taiwan, Columbia, Honduras, Tunisia, Jordan, etc., etc., etc.
    (8) Balance the federal budget by ending all subsidies for the very profitable oil, natural gas and coal corporations, the nuclear power industry, the very profitable large agricultural corporations, etc., etc., etc.
    (9) Balance the federal government by dismantling the huge and growing federal police-state security apparatus.
    (10) Balance the federal budget by ending the extremely wasteful and ineffective war on drugs.
    (11) Balance the federal budget by shutting down all of the illegal foreign prisons operated by the CIA.
    (12) Balance the federal budget by shutting down the US Army's notorious Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation(WHINSEC), formerly known as the School of the Americas(SOA). The WHINSEC trains police and military officers for fascist capitalist Central and South American governments that use them to brutally suppress political dissent.
    (13) Balance the federal budget by maintaining the separation of church and state and ending all federal Faith-based initiatives. In other words, get the federal government out of the business of promoting religion. The Christian churches are very profitable capitalist business operations that can afford to finance their extremely reactionary parochial schools.
    (14) Balance the federal budget by drastically raising the taxes on the obscenely wealthy pro-fascist capitalist class, the extremely profitable pro-fascist capitalist corporations and their highly overpaid pro-fascist corporate management.
    (15) Balance the federal budget by ending the military build-up for a war with Iran, and/or North Korea, and/or Venezuela, and/or China.
    (16) Balance the federal budget by disbanding the fascist capitalist war machine's United States Northern Command (USNORTHCOM). The original and only purpose of USNORTHCOM is to brutally suppress all legitimate dissent by the working class.
    (17) Balance the federal budget by consolidating the corrupt and redundant Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (BATF) with the equally corrupt Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).
    (18) Balance the federal budget by drastically raising the excise taxes on all automotive fuels, alcohol and tobacco.
    (19) End all of the fascist capitalist war machine's no-bid contracts, particularly those for the private fascist armies such as Blackwater, DynCorp Blackhawk.

    John and Martha Elkhart Lake, WI
  • If cuts need to be made,it is in the area of the military.STOP THE WAR in Afghanistan,get the troops out of Iraq and other countries,and save BILLIONS! Seniors and the middle-class should NOT pay for the military when they need all the help they can get with Medicare and Social Security. Prof. John San Jose, CA