Seniors outraged at proposed cuts to Medicare held “knit-ins” at bank branches throughout New York City and Long Island on Wednesday afternoon. They knitted blankets that said “Save Medicare,” which they plan to hand-deliver to members of Congress during the August recess.
“Medicare is absolutely essential for my health, I have diabetes and need medications and constant treatment,” said Vickie Owens, a 69-year-old retired health professional and senior rights activist from the Bronx. “We bailed out the big banks, got them on their feet, and now they just want to throw us taxpayers and senior citizens to the dogs.”
President Barack Obama signed an debt deal into law, called the the Budget Control Act of 2011, on Tuesday that would raised the debt ceiling until 2013 and cut the federal deficit by about $2.1 trillion over a 10-year period. The two-stage agreement, which was criticized by both tea party lawmakers and progressive Democrats, passed by a vote of 269 to 161 in the House and a vote of 74 to 26 in the Senate.
The first stage includes a $917 billion cut in discretionary spending. The second stage involves a special joint committee of Congress, which would be responsible for drafting additional budget legislation to reduce the budget deficit by about $1.2 trillion, possibly by making cuts to Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security.
“There used to be a grander vision for America and for New York: if you worked hard and played by the rules, you would have dignity and security in your old age,” said Maria Alvarez of the New York Senior Action Council. “And there was a social contract, in which corporations and the rich did their part to make sure everyone had a certain standard of living.”
“But now politicians, big banks and corporate CEOs are trying to destroy the American Dream. Working people and seniors are being asked to make all the sacrifices, while the wealth gets more and more concentrated at the very top. There is a widespread and growing sense that this is the wrong direction for our city and our nation.”