CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- National and state leaders of the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations want Congress to let the George W. Bush tax cuts for the top 2 percent of all Americans expire. Labor leaders also want Congress to "say no to benefit cuts to Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security."
The annual financial benefits coming into West Virginia from each of these programs include: $5.7 billion from Social Security, $3.5 billion from Medicare and $2.4 billion from Medicaid.
The AFL-CIO released a new state-by-state study last week, detailing how many Americans would be impacted if Congress cuts benefits in these programs.
Information nationally, and for all 50 states, can be found at: www.aflcio.org/StateFactSheets.
Nationally, 55.4 million people receive $725 billion a year from Social Security benefits, while 48.7 million receive $541 billion for health coverage from Medicare and 64.4 million receive $355 billion for health coverage from Medicaid.
These benefits provide a "critical lifeline" for West Virginians today:
Increasing the eligibility age from 65 to 67 for Medicare would "substantially increase total health-care costs, with the burden falling on individuals, employers and state governments," the AFL-CIO study states.
Those extra costs would be twice the net savings the Medicare age increase would give the federal government, according to an August 2011 study by Paul N. Van de Water published by the National Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, based in Washington.
The AFL-CIO study also criticizes the impacts the Bowles-Simpson plan, supported by many members of Congress, would have on Social Security benefits.
The proposed changes would cut the cost-of-living adjustment by 0.3 percent a year for all current and future Social Security beneficiaries. By the time retired workers reach 80, those cuts would amount to 5.1 percent of benefits received today, a loss of $852 a year.
The changes would reduce benefits for "medium earners" by more than $2,875 a year, when Bowles-Simpson is completely phased in.