Recommended Inclusions in 2008 Democratic Platform:
Using the 2004 Democratic Party National Platform Contents Page as a guide, we offer the following inclusions for consideration:
Include the following in the platform preamble:
“The Democratic Party is committed to protecting the hard-earned pension, health care and other benefits of all of America’s retirees regardless of whether they were represented by a union or not. These benefits were expressly assured in their working years and seniors relied on those promised benefits to maintain a dignified and independent life style in their retirement years.
A Strong, Growing Economy
Standing up for the Great American Middle Class,
Sub title: Helping families (page 25); the NRLN offers the following statement:
We must help all of America’s retirees, pre Medicare and post Medicare eligible, private and public sector, represented and non-represented, deal with the staggering increases in everyday cost of living created by the spiraling cost of health care and other items.
Today, thousands of businesses that had promised pension, health care and life insurance benefits to their workers upon retirement are now seeking ways to shift much of the rising cost of those benefits onto retirees and the taxpayers. The Democratic Party is committed to reforming health care, cutting healthcare costs, and offering tax credits or other financial benefits to pay for it.
Sub title: Protecting retirement security, (page 26: the NRLN offers the following changes:
We must protect the retirement security of all American workers/retirees and their families. Workers and retirees should never lose their savings because their former employers did not adequately fund their pension programs. While the Pension Reform Act of 2006 addressed the funding levels of Defined Pension Plans, beneficiaries need more information and fuller disclosure to assess their plans financial stability. The use of ‘surplus’ funds in these plans must be for the original intended purpose of those plans to benefit retirees, not for corporate restructuring expenses. And we need to protect older workers from unfair treatment when their earned benefits are converted to Cash Balance Plans.
STRONG HEALTHY FAMILIES
America’s workers have historically provided their energy and skills to propel successful businesses and in return have received promises of certain Pension and Health Care benefits upon retirement. Congress has had the oversight responsibility to create fair rules to protect both management and labor. Federal courts and appointed agencies have frequently issued rulings that have been harmful to retirees, e.g., resulting in elimination of their benefits. The Democratic Party opposes Federal agencies promulgating rules that circumvent the intent of legislation passed by Congress and signed by the President.
Reforming Health Care (Page 29). The NRLN offers the following beginning in paragraph 3:
American Businesses are at a substantial disadvantage with competitors in foreign countries that fund or significantly subsidize health care for their citizens. Skyrocketing healthcare costs in the United States deepen that disadvantage, and brutally punish the citizens of our own country. Consequently, we are committed to providing high-quality, accessible health care to all, whether working or retired, union-represented or non-represented, or whether in the public or private sector. We will do this in part by assuring corporate America fulfills its promises to its workers and retirees, and in a way that enhances their competitive position.
We will attack the health care crisis with a comprehensive approach. Our goal is straightforward: to assist American businesses to continue to provide health care programs by proper incentives and also to make available quality, affordable health care coverage for all Americans, private and public, represented and non represented, with a health care system that will keep American businesses competitive and American families healthy. We support a retiree health care Maintenance-of-Cost Payment (MCP) equal to the cost of an individual’s earned health care benefits at the time of retirement or at a subsequent time, whichever is highest, when reduction or cancellation of coverage may occur. The Democratic Party supports the five principles of health care reform as described by the National Coalition on Health Care (NCHC); 1) Health care coverage for all; 2) Improved cost management to eliminate waste; 3) Improvement of Health Care Quality and Safety; 4) Equitable Financing; and 5) Simplified Administration that established electronic record keeping networks and minimizes redundancies.
We support legislation enabling tax-free and penalty free rollover transfers from 401k funds, Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs) and permit the tax-free use of such accounts to pay for healthcare premiums or to fund Health Care Savings Accounts.
Continuing on page 30:
We are pledged to provide tax credits to businesses to continue providing earned health care benefits to workers/retirees so they may maintain quality, reliable health care during their golden years. For workers that do not qualify for employer-provided health care coverage prior to Medicare eligibility, we will provide either tax credits or a Medicare buy-in program whereby such workers/retirees under Medicare eligibility age of 65 are offered the opportunity to buy into coverage comparable to Medicare at the then current Medicare cost levels.
We pledge to provide all Americans with access to health care coverage equal to such coverage that Congress provides itself.
Helping seniors by protecting Medicare and cutting prescription costs:
We will ensure that seniors across the country, particularly in small-town and rural America, no longer suffer from geographic discrimination.
We support legislation to increase Medicare Part D subsidy paid to employers to offer better prescription drug coverage than provided in Part D, and who agree to maintain their prescription drug plans at a superior level.
No American should be forced to choose between meals and medications. We support competitive bidding of prescription drugs, faster approval of generic drugs, and the safe importation of lower-cost drugs from other countries subject to approval by the FDA.
In 1993, Congress, as part of a balanced budget initiative, implemented taxation on Social Security benefits aimed at upper income groups. The level of taxable benefits was not indexed to inflationary changes, resulting in injustices done to larger numbers of retirees than the intended legislation targeted. The Democratic Party is committed to legislation that amends the tax codes to eliminate or reduce this unintended consequence and harm to lower income retirees.
Robert Foresta, NRLN Vice President Legislative Affairs
May 21, 2008