ALPENA - Local seniors, registered nurses and other citizens held a public demonstration at Island Park in Alpena on Wednesday to protest Rep. Dan Benishek's support for Rep. Paul Ryan's voucher-like Medicare program, arguing that the program would raise the cost of Medicare for thousands of seniors to give tax breaks to the wealthiest citizens.
Coordinated by the Michigan Nurses Association and Michigan Citizen Action, the protest called upon a handful of interested parties to voice their concerns, and Michigan Citizen Action Executive Director Linda Teeter opened the event with a summary of their collective stance.
"There have been recent votes by members of Congress, like Mr. Benishek, to give the wealthiest 2 percent tax breaks for $150,000 while asking people to pay another $6,400 in order to have a voucher for Medicare," she said. "We don't want an economy that gives more tax breaks to the rich and costs we who are in the middle class health care."
News Photo by Andrew Westrope
In protest of Rep. Dan Benishek’s support for Republican vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan’s budget plan, a group of local retirees, registered nurses, and other citizens gather in Island Park in Alpena on Wednesday to display a giant check for $150,000 made out to “Millionaires” from Dan Benishek. After their protest, some of them signed the check and delivered it to Benishek’s office in Gaylord.
Local registered nurse Jenny McClendon stressed the importance of affordable Medicare for many of her patients, and Alpena retiree Kaye Breckenridge said for voters, the plan presents a choice between a lifeline for many and a bonus for few.
"I could just imagine what would happen if we would also be required, as is being proposed, at our age, to have to begin to look for insurance companies to cover our needs using the voucher system ... We can't just turn over these complicated financial decisions to someone else, as can the very rich, who have accountants and lawyers to help them find the loopholes, read the fine print and find the best plans for their situations," she said. "We need the protection that this government program provides. I want to know that my children have this plan for their retirement years."
Retired teacher Chuck Herring said he made an agreement with Uncle Sam the first time he made a dollar.
"That agreement had me pay a percentage of every dollar to Social Security and to Medicare. In return, I expected Uncle Sam would see to it that I received Social Security and Medicare until I die, after I retire," he said. "I've held up my end of the bargain, as has everybody else here."
Republican proponents of Ryan's plan say allegations of raising Medicare costs by $6,000 are outdated and based on an older plan, but some Democratic campaigns continue to repeat them.
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