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Potential program cuts for seniors, disabled blasted at forum

Published: Mon, July 25, 2011 @ 12:00 a.m.


Two-year-old Jordan Jackson of Youngstown wears his “Hands off Social Security” sticker as he waits for Sunday’s town-hall meeting at the Union Baptist Church in Youngstown to begin. The meeting discussed the impact of possible cuts to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.


U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown speaks to community members during Sunday’s town-hall meeting at the Union Baptist Church in Youngstown. The meeting discussed the impact of possible cuts to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.


Carolyn Williams


The Mahoning Valley Organizing Collaborative presented this information on social programs and the impact of cuts:

Roughly one in six Ohioans are covered by Social Security, which is keeping about 47,000 children out of poverty.

Cuts to Social Security will lead to a financial burden on many Ohio residents and could cause the poverty rate for the elderly to skyrocket from 8 percent to more than 46 percent.

Limiting Medicaid benefits will throw into poverty a large percentage of elderly people and those with disabilities who are struggling to make ends meet.

By Sean Barron



More than $150,000 was spent recently on a traffic light in upstate New York, and government funding was used for a cotton mill in Brazil.

Those are two of what Carolyn Williams says are many examples of wasteful government spending that could be better used to preserve and protect Social Security.

“Social Security is not an entitlement; it is a promise to the American people who have paid into the system,” Williams, of Youngstown, told an audience of about 200 community organizers, senior citizens, residents, elected officials and others who attended Sunday’s town-hall meeting with U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown at United Baptist Church, 528 Lincoln Ave.

“Proposed cuts will force recipients to pay higher insurance premiums and co-pays, and deny us money for essentials like prescription drugs and groceries.”

Other elected officials who spoke were U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan of Niles, D-17th, and state Sen. Capri Cafaro of Liberty.

Sponsoring the 90-minute gathering were the Mahoning Valley Organizing Collaborative in partnership with the Service Employees International Union’s Fight for a Fair Economy Campaign, the Ohio Organizing Collaborative and Union Baptist.

Williams, an MVOC member, recalled being forced to take early retirement because of an injury after having worked 24 years as an X-ray technician. She also was one of several people who offered personal testimonies and spoke against cuts to the programs.

Another speaker was Virginia Wepfer of Lake Milton, who worked 56 years as a nurse before suffering a back injury in 2003 that required about six months of physical therapy.

In addition, Wepfer’s husband, Gordon, suffered a fall last year that tore a muscle in his right shoulder, resulting in roughly two months of such therapy.

Nevertheless, Gordon Wepfer is able to raise both arms and his wife walks much better, thanks to the necessary treatments that were paid for largely by Medicare, Virginia Wepfer explained.

“You can judge a society by the way it treats its most vulnerable members,” she added.

Gloria Hobbs of Youngstown is on Social Security and receives Medicaid to supplement her Medicare coverage. All three are necessary for Hobbs to take care of herself, she said.

“These programs are not a matter of entitlement; they are a matter of survival for our seniors,” she continued. “These sweeping changes will overwhelm an already distressed population.”

Brown, a Democrat from Avon, compared attacks on the three programs to mounted opposition, largely by powerful interests, to Social Security and Medicare in the 1930s and 1960s, respectively.

For example, many members of the conservative John Birch Society were angered over the passage of Medicare in 1965, Brown noted. Attempts to privatize or otherwise negatively alter Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid will fail if people collaborate with one another and keep fighting for the programs, the senator said.

Many people in their 50s without health-care coverage put off necessary medical procedures until they’re eligible for Medicare. By then, however, their problems are chronic and much more costly, which contributes to driving up health-care costs, Ryan explained, adding that the last 30 years have seen a huge shift of wealth from the middle class to the top 1 percent of wage earners.

Brown, Ryan and Cafaro took questions that included how the country can continue to fund domestic programs while being embroiled in two wars, and why many Republicans seem unable to work with President Barack Obama on many issues.

Brown denounced some members of Congress who advocate raising the retirement age, and Cafaro talked about how she feels the elimination of Ohio’s estate tax could damage many communities.

Moderating the gathering was the Rev. Solomon Hill, pastor of Centinary United Methodist Church in Youngstown.


1UnionForever(1470 comments)posted 4 years, 11 months ago

The elimination of the estate tax is a good thing for taxpayers' heirs Ms. Cafaro! Once again you show us that there isn't someone else's dollar that you wouldn't like to spend on your greedy selfish public union supporters.

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2ytownsteelman(680 comments)posted 4 years, 11 months ago

The greed and selfishness displayed by the people at that meeting is astounding.

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3Freeatlast(1991 comments)posted 4 years, 11 months ago

FairandEqual . Very Very good Comment
And I agree with you on this .
Have a great day

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4Stan(9923 comments)posted 4 years, 11 months ago

When Bill Clinton was in office he knew that getting money from the masses was a no brainer . His target ? Taxing Social Security benefits and taxing unemployment benefits . Yes indeed this was the liberal way of taxing the rich to aid the poor . There was very little outcry over this taxation . The target this time around ? Middle Class Wealth and the baby boomers . The big money donors to the DNC will be sheltered .

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5db(280 comments)posted 4 years, 11 months ago

Taking care of our seniors is a no-brainer but why did Obama take funds allocated to Medicare and transfer them to Obamacare? If the Dems truly cared for our seniors why would they defund Medicare? How about cutting foreign aid, welfare, & enforcing our borders? Welfare (Medicaid) consumes as much of our budget as Medicare and has created a permanent lowlife sleep-till-noon underclass with their hands out. Welfare needs to morph into Workfare. These are the folks the Dems count on. Tim Ryan, Sherrod Brown, Capri Cafaro, & Robert Hagan couldn't win a one man election if it weren't for bribing lowrents with promises of handouts at the taxpayer's expense and deceiving senior citizens with phony claims of protection.

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6faith(200 comments)posted 4 years, 11 months ago

REPEAL THE BUSH TAX CUTS!!! They have not created the jobs or economy that was promised.
The estate tax in OH only impacted the 7% wealthiest of our population (like the Cafaro's). That money went directly to services like police and fire.
When my grandparents passed on, the nursing home took all they had, there was nothing left to tax!
We ha\ve just as much of a revenue problem that we do a spending problem. Tax loopholes for the richest people (GOP calls them job creators) need to be repealed. The disparity between the richest and the poor is growing at an astronomical rate.
Cutting social programs is inhumane and should be unacceptable to the American public.

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7walter_sobchak(2672 comments)posted 4 years, 11 months ago

Excellent ponts. The Democratic party of my grandfather supported the little guy in America who only wanted a fair shot at the dream, a fair day's wage for a fair day's work, and take care of the widows and orphans. Now, they have become the party of the American (and non-American) slug, giving away our earned riches to undeserving leeches, all to earn themselves votes.

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8DwightK(1535 comments)posted 4 years, 11 months ago

We would all have mor emoney if we had better jobs. So why isn't anyone in Washington working on legislation that accomplishes that? The Bush tax cuts didn't create any jobs. Limits to welfare didn't motivate people. We need some leadership before we're all eating beet soup for dinner.

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9candystriper(575 comments)posted 4 years, 11 months ago

2 million 99ers

how many will file for SSI?

welcome to the pit

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10cambridge(4061 comments)posted 4 years, 11 months ago

Here you have the politicians that the teabagger/republicans elected insisting on cutting social security and medicare and the Democrats opposing the cuts and you have a bunch of fools blaming the Democrats for the cuts. I think you people have been exposed to an epidemic of stupid and the Fix Noise Network is the carrier.

Don't worry, there's always that 15 thousand dollar tax credit the republicans want to give all you sick old people so you can buy from those insurance companies you all love so much. :-)

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11cambridge(4061 comments)posted 4 years, 11 months ago

dodge2002....You just can't help yourself can you? You continually distort what is really happening here.

Since before the 2008 election both Obama and the Democrats in the House and the Senate have said that the bush tax cuts for the top 3% should be rolled back to the Clinton era when they were 4% higher than now.

There is only one party, the teabagger/republicans that insist on those tax cuts for the rich. You remember them don't you? They are the ones you voted for.

I hope you got what you voted for because you voted for what you got. Live with it.

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12Ytownnative(1121 comments)posted 4 years, 11 months ago

They need to look at the SSDI instead of SSI. I know of people that are perfectly healthy and are collecting SSDI. Or people who while driving drunk or doing drugs have disabled themselves and now collect SSDI. there are 10,2 million on SSDI receiving an average of $1100 thats what 11 billion? And Puerto Rico has 9 or the 10 top zip codes that receive SSDI.

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13cambridge(4061 comments)posted 4 years, 11 months ago

UnionForever and jeratboy.....If you are going to reference the estate tax you should at least get your facts straight. 99.7% of American families are exempt from the estate tax. Only the top 3/10 of 1% would have to pay an estate tax. Eliminating the estate on the richest 3/10 of 1% will cost the country 1 trillion dollars in revenue. Can you kind of see a pattern here? And the rich get richer.



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14db(280 comments)posted 4 years, 11 months ago

Wealthy folks are not affected by the estate tax; as youcan't has already stated, they have trust funds and tax lawyers to protect them. However, those most hard hit are farm families. When the family farm's estate tax cannot be paid, the government confiscates the farm and has a tax auction. One of the largest buying groups for these auctions out west are the Chinese. An estate tax is wrong and anyone who advocates it should be ashamed of themselves. The rich get richer?? No, the government steals more & more and China buys another piece of America.

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15mrblue(1175 comments)posted 4 years, 11 months ago

Ryan, Brown, Hagan, Cafaro------You all sure talk alot-----but where are the results? Protect the rich, take care of yourselves, and burden the middle and lower class. That seems to be the story wilth all elected officials. It doesn't matter if you are a Republician or a Democrat------the story is the same.

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16cambridge(4061 comments)posted 4 years, 11 months ago

db....I guess you didn't bother to read the post before yours. 99.7% of families are UNEFFECTED and pay NO ESTATE TAX. Only the top 3/10 of 1% pay.

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17peacelover(838 comments)posted 4 years, 11 months ago

There are those people who believe anything they read on the Internet and unfortunately, there are many organizations with an agenda who are expert at skewing facts to fit their agenda and are experts at spreading around these scare emails. These gullible people see something on the computer screen and they think if it's there it must be true. I doubt they ever check facts on sites such as Politifact or FactCheck. I have a relative who sends me all manner of chain emails insisting on "facts" that are way too absurd to be true, even totally stupid such as "the Obamas prohibit Christmas trees in the White House!" yet she believes in them 100% and when I send her a link to Factcheck disputing her letter she tells me they are wrong and that I am brainwashed. You just can't win with some people. The sad thing is, that these people vote.

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18politibear(1 comment)posted 4 years, 11 months ago

"...many examples of wasteful government spending that could be better used to preserve and protect Social Security"

The government has a spending problem, not a revenue collection problem, but Obama refuses to budge on eliminating any of the trillions of spending he's introduced.

The Republicans proposed a budget that was voted down on party lines, but the press never reported that the Obama budget was _also_ voted on that same day and was defeated by a unanimous, bipartisan vote. Republicans are coming up with solutions to the problem. Obama and his Democrat cronies refuse to compromise.

The Democrat budget? They haven't produced a budget in two years. That's fiscal irresponsibility for ya.

"You can judge a society by the way it treats its most vulnerable members." --Virginia Wepfer

Like the murder of unborn children. Eliminate government funding of Planned Parenthood and you can kill (if you'll pardon the expression) two birds with one stone.

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19Chief178(61 comments)posted 4 years, 11 months ago

Go Unions
The American people bailout Chrysler, and Chrysler sells out to Fiat, that the kinda of stuff we are paying for, GM will be next.

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20Ytownnative(1121 comments)posted 4 years, 11 months ago

Even better They are thinking of another "stimulus" They will burn through a trillion by the end of the year

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21ConservativeDude(36 comments)posted 4 years, 11 months ago

These politicians have no concious about taking other peoples money. Capri thinks it is a bad idea for people to keep their family money. Instead, she believes you should give it to the community.

Consider that as your basis for understanding the rest of their thinking. In the fight about the country's debt, Republican Speaker Boehner and his crew are fighting hard to help us keep our money. Obama wants to take our money. These people are on the same team.

Not one of these politicians tell the seniors why we are talking about not paying for these programs. They do not tell the seniors that they have voted to allow illegal immegrants to draw money from programs they never paid a dime for. That is just wrong!! The seniors need to know that.

Further, the politicians have allowed the government to "borrow" our money from the Social Security fund. Where is it? We should ask these people every time we see them..where is my money??

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22Bigben(1996 comments)posted 4 years, 11 months ago

The people paid into it and ought to be able to count on that money being there at the appropriate time.There is nothing wrong with the system other than it has been drained much in the same way the general fund gets borrowed from in townships.Do you expect the folks who took the money to tell you the truth?

They would like to privatize Social Security but the fact of the matter is the government has been helping themselves to it right along.

The same can be said of the Postal service it is part government and part private.The government helped themselves to the profits the postal service made when they were making profits .

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23Ytownnative(1121 comments)posted 4 years, 11 months ago

My post from the same story somewhere else on vindy.com ( I dont know why they do this)
It's those rich republican members of congress oh wait the top ten wealthiest are
#1 John Kerry (D)
#2 Darel Issa (R)
#3 Jane Harman (D)
#4 Jay Rockefeller (D)
#5 Michael McCaul (R)
#6 Mark Warner (D)
#7 Jared polis (D)
#8 Vern Buchanen (R)
#9 Frank Launtenburg (D)
#10 Diane Feinstein (D)

70% of the richest members of congress are democrats. Do you really think any of them really care about the working class?? Or the country? I bet they care if they fall of the above list tho

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24cambridge(4061 comments)posted 4 years, 11 months ago

Ytownnative.....The list you ought to be posting is the one of all the House Representatives and all the Senators that are voting to cut social security and medicare for seniors. Those names will all have an (R) behind them.

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25Ytownnative(1121 comments)posted 4 years, 11 months ago

Not that anyone in this area lets the facts bother them

In the House, there are five Democrats and five Republicans among the 10 wealthiest members.

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26cambridge(4061 comments)posted 4 years, 11 months ago

YTN....What's your point? Not all rich people think alike. This article is about seniors, social security and medicare. One party the (R)'s want to cut them and the other party the (D)'s don't. Those ARE the facts.

I couldn't care less what any of them are worth. I don't begrudge any of them anything in their personal lives that they got honestly.

The (R)'s have made their priority the top 3% and a big screw you to the other 97%. If that's what you want I would say you have some serious problems in regards to your values.

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