CHARLESTON, W.Va.-- The upcoming "lame duck" Congress could pose a major threat to the welfare of thousands of West Virginians, speakers at a state AFL-CIO news conference warned Thursday.
Kenny Perdue, president of the West Virginia AFL-CIO, talked about the so-called "fiscal cliff" and asked, "Where are we going to go from here?
"We want Medicare to stay in place as it is -- no cuts. Don't touch Social Security. Don't cut it.
"Let's create jobs -- that is the biggest issue in this country. We need to be vigilant," Perdue said during the news conference at Covenant House in Charleston.
"The top 2 percent [of our population] spent $6 billion on this election campaign. The other 98 percent had to listen to all their advertisements."
Perdue said he believes the prosperity of the other 98 percent is critical to the nation's future. "They will spend money they get."
Wayne Rebich, a carpenter and Affiliated Construction Trades Foundation leader, asked why some politicians talk about making cuts in benefits and raising the age when people become eligible to collect Social Security.
"Social Security has not contributed one dime to the deficit. I don't know why it is even a part of this discussion."
One proposal has been to raise the minimum age for collecting Social Security benefits from 62 to 65.
"It is hard for construction workers to work that long. And how do you expect a coal miner to work until he is 65 years old?" Rebich asked.
"People whose jobs involve hard labor can't work into their late 60s. It's not physically possible."
Rebich also urged Congress to eliminate the current provision that ends annual payments into Social Security funds once an individual's annual wages exceed $110,000.