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Photo Credit: Omar Tewfik

AFSCME Retiree to Congress: 'Hands off my Medicare, Hands off my Social Security'

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AFSCME retiree Lisa Henson didn’t mince words Wednesday when she called on Congress to protect Social Security and Medicare at a press conference on Capitol Hill.

“Hands off my Medicare, hands off my Social Security,” she said.

A retired correctional officer and member of AFSCME Council 3 in Maryland, Henson came to Capitol Hill to raise awareness about the importance of those two programs to retired Americans and public service workers.

“I worked hard my whole life, keeping people safe in Baltimore,” Henson said. “Like other retirees, Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid are very important to me to maintain a standard of living and for health care now that I am retired.”

Henson’s remarks come as the majority party in Congress works to pass a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution. The proposed amendment – which would need to be approved by two-thirds of Congress and two-thirds of state legislatures – would prevent the U.S. government from making needed investments to strengthen communities and create jobs.

AFSCME strongly opposes such an amendment because it would pave the way for politicians to balance the budget on the backs of retirees and vulnerable Americans by making steep cuts to programs they depend on, such as education, Social Security and Medicare.  

“I notice that some people talk about the deficit when it suits them, but there is a moral deficit as well, when you take away the hard-earned, modest benefits of millions of seniors and vulnerable Americans,” Henson said.

She was referring to the fact that the same members of Congress pushing this amendment also championed the recent massive tax cuts for the wealthy and big corporations that are projected to balloon the national deficient by $1.9 trillion over the next decade.

The proposed amendment is not expected to pass Congress, but it is a stark reminder that many in Congress are willing to force cuts to vital services and benefits that Americans have worked their entire lives to earn and, in many cases, desperately need to receive health care and make ends meet.  

“We have a contract with the government that says you pay into these programs, which I did for my entire working career, so you should be able to rely on them and retire with dignity,” Henson said. “This is not the American way to now change the rules in the middle of the game.”