The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Local News

December 10, 2012

Several area residents voice ‘fiscal cliff’ concerns at lawmaker’s office

PITTSBURG, Kan. — “Teetering on the edge” is how Jane Wemhoener, 62, of Columbus, described her financial situation Monday afternoon.

“It’s going to be devastating to people like me — truly devastating,” she said, if Medicare and Social Security are negatively affected by the “fiscal cliff” negotiations under way in Washington, D.C.

Wemhoener was among a group of Southeast Kansas residents who gathered at the Pittsburg office of U.S. Rep. Lynn Jenkins, R-Kan., to share their opinions on how the impending fiscal cliff might affect each of them personally.

Jenkins was touring small businesses in Topeka, Leavenworth and Ottawa at the time in an effort to learn how the fiscal cliff might affect employers and employees, according to her press secretary, Annie Dwyer.

“She is really focused on trying to understand what that would mean for the workers, and for employers how this is going to affect their ability to hire new people, wages and benefits,” Dwyer said.

In Jenkins’ absence, aide Jake LaTurner listened to the concerns of the Southeast Kansas residents. He said Jenkins has received at least 10 letters about the topic in the past few days — a lot of constituent feedback for this area, he said.

Some estimates say nearly 78 million baby boomers on the brink of expensive health problems could bankrupt the nation through Medicare. A congressional report on the solvency of Medicare puts the time frame at 12 years.

“With my medical bills, if Social Security or Medicare is cut, I’m going to have no option but to file bankruptcy,” said Wemhoener, who is disabled.

Dwyer said Medicare is “a big priority for the congresswoman,” and has been a topic of discussion for Jenkins at numerous recent town halls and with senior citizens throughout the 2nd District.

“Her plan that she supports would have no changes for current seniors or anyone 55 or older, and includes means testing for those in higher income brackets,” Dwyer said. “It also would eventually raise the eligibility age, but over a long period of time.”

Several in the group who spoke at Jenkins’ Pittsburg office are retired teachers. They are angry, they said, that they worked hard to serve their communities, invested in their own futures and might have little to show for it financially.

Lowell Alexander, 70, of Frontenac, retired after working for 49 years.

“I started paying into it in about 1959,” he said of Social Security. “We all paid into it, and if we had just left it alone ... .”

The same was true of John Robb, of Pittsburg, a retiree and Vietnam-era veteran.

“I’ve been paying into it since 1959, too,” he said. He told LaTurner, who was elected to the state Senate in November, that Congress should “slay the sacred cow of militarism and change it into the Department of Peace” before making changes to Social Security or Medicare.

LaTurner told the group that Jenkins “doesn’t want to take away Social Security or existing benefits,” and that she won’t support anything that takes such benefits away from the age group using it now.

“But she does believe that it could be done for the group of people that has time to plan ahead,” he said.

Others, like Joy Leeper, of Pittsburg, said they resent the term “entitlement program” being used by some to describe Medicare and Social Security.

“It’s not an entitlement program,” said Leeper, who said she is over 70 and a retiree. “I paid into it all my life. The little I get enables me to stay in my home.”

Her suggestion?

“You need to increase revenue, not cut programs to the poor,” she said. “One in four corporations don’t pay taxes in this country.”

It was a sentiment echoed several times by those present, who also said employers must increase wages or employees will have nothing to spend.

“We’re all connected,” Leeper said. “I don’t think a lot of people consider that, but if people on the lower end can’t afford to buy anything, the corporations aren’t going to sell anything.”

LaTurner said Jenkins signed a pledge when she was elected that she would not raise taxes on anyone, and contended that the country’s problem is not a lack of revenue but a problem with spending.

“Any plan that does not address the root of the problem — this nation’s out-of-control spending habit — is not a real solution,” Jenkins wrote in her weekly update to the 2nd District.

Tour stops

DURING U.S. REP. LYNN JENKINS’ tour Monday, she heard from employers and employees at each stop that their biggest concern is uncertainty over what will happen. “They said, ‘We need to know the rules so that we can plan,’” said Annie Dwyer, Jenkins’ press secretary. “Both employers and employees are vulnerable right now until they know the plan.”

1
Text Only
Local News
  • Pension funding improving, actuary reports

    An extra $1 million contribution by the city of Joplin last year to the Police and Firemen’s Pension Fund boosted the funding ratio of the plan by 2 percent, the plan’s actuary told the board Thursday morning.

    April 17, 2014

  • Special counsel to be appointed in ethics complaint against Neosho council members

    The Neosho Ethics Board on Wednesday voted to ask the City Council to appoint a special counsel to provide legal advice to the board’s remaining two members as they investigate a complaint against two members of the council.

    April 17, 2014

  • Mike Pound 2010.jpg Mike Pound: Will new Earth-like planet have better cable offerings?

    When I read that astronomers have discovered the most Earth-like planet yet, I had a couple of deep scientific questions. First: What’s the Wi-Fi like? And: Are their TV channels better than ours? Hey, I didn’t get an “Incomplete” in college astronomy for nothing.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Christian ministry plans Missouri camp expansion

    A nondenominational Christian ministry is planning a $21.5 million expansion on land it owns near Table Rock Lake in southwest Missouri, with a goal of offering gatherings beyond the traditional summer camps.

    April 17, 2014

  • 041714 School safe rooms4_72.jpg Joplin school district readies community safe rooms for storm season

    Thousands of Joplin residents will soon be able to stay safe during storms in some of the region’s newest shelters. Community safe rooms at Cecil Floyd, Stapleton, McKinley and Eastmorland elementary schools, which double as gymnasiums, and Junge Field, which will double as a field house, are expected to be open within the next few weeks, according to Mike Johnson, the school district’s director of construction.

    April 17, 2014 2 Photos

  • 041714 Treble Makers.jpg Carl Junction ‘Treble Makers’ to sing at Springfield Cardinals’ stadium

    Next month, 75 Carl Junction sixth-grade students will sing “The Star-Spangled Banner” at Hammons Field before a Springfield Cardinals game. And with more than 600 parents, family members and other residents planning to attend, the May 3 event has been dubbed “Carl Junction Day.”

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Public hearing set on posed TIF district

    Financial details of a proposed new tax increment financing district for the Silver Creek Galleria area will be discussed in detail at an April 28 public hearing, members of the city’s TIF Commission were told Thursday. Chris Williams, a TIF attorney representing the city of Joplin, told the panel the Thursday meeting was intended to walk commissioners through the public hearing steps.

    April 17, 2014

  • Volunteer projects spark two bills in Jefferson City

    Bills moving through the Missouri House and Senate were inspired by a volunteer project in Carl Junction last year that stalled over a question of whether those volunteers had to be paid prevailing wage under Missouri law. “This bill is very simple. All it says is if someone is a volunteer, they won’t be forced to be paid prevailing wage,” state Rep. Charlie Davis, R-Webb City, told lawmakers during a hearing on his bill last week.

    April 17, 2014

  • Chairman of Neosho Ethics Board resigns

    The chairman of the Neosho Ethics Board unexpectedly resigned on Thursday as the board investigates a complaint against Neosho City Council members David Ruth and Steve Hart.

    April 17, 2014

  • CWEP receives top honor from national power group

    The Carthage Water and Electric Plant has received the top award for reliable electrical service from the American Public Power Association.

    April 17, 2014

Must Read
Sports
Photos


Facebook
Poll

Would you use a community safe room when the area is under a tornado warning?

Yes.
No.
     View Results
Opinion
Twitter Updates
Follow us on twitter