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
  • Carthage prepares for Marian Days

    The 37th annual Marian Days celebration will start in two weeks, and planning is well under way for the event that will bring tens of thousands of Catholics of Vietnamese descent to Carthage.

    July 23, 2014

  • Mike Pound 2010.jpg Mike Pound: It’s not Mayberry, but Carthage is close

    When I was a kid, I wanted to live in Mayberry. In a way, I suppose I still want to live in Mayberry, the fictional town featured in the classic Andy Griffith show of the 1960s.

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Miami council waives fees for barbecue event

    The Miami City Council voted Tuesday to waive $3,750 in usage fees for Miami Elks Lodge No. 1320 for an upcoming barbecue championship at the Miami Fairgrounds.

    July 23, 2014

  • Joplin couple indicted in child porn case

    A federal grand jury indicted a Joplin couple Wednesday for alleged sexual exploitation of a second child in addition to a girl who was the subject of a preceding indictment of the husband for allegedly producing and distributing child pornography.

    July 23, 2014

  • Missouri attorney general defends his support of Amendment 1

    With a large cornfield behind him and campaign signs all around, Democratic Attorney General Chris Koster appeared Wednesday at the David Collard farm to tout Amendment 1, an Aug. 5 ballot measure that would make the “right to farm” part of the state constitution.

    July 23, 2014

  • Joplin school board reviews audit procedures

    A team from the Missouri State Auditor’s Office has begun requesting documents in its task to audit the operations and management of the Joplin School District, the audit manager told the Board of Education on Tuesday.

    July 22, 2014

  • Joplin man to stand trial in accident case

    A passenger accused of causing an accident on Interstate 44 in Joplin that injured three others as well as himself was ordered bound over for trial Tuesday on three felony counts.

    July 22, 2014

  • Pseudoephedrine sales in Pittsburg to require prescription

    Starting Friday, those who purchase pseudoephedrine and related products in Pittsburg will need a prescription to do so.

    July 22, 2014

  • r072214soroptimist3.jpg Volunteers spend week providing camp experience to foster youths

    Karen McGlamery is a massage therapist. Terri Falis-Cochran is a finance manager. Jane McCaulley is a retired art teacher. But for a week each summer, the three are among dozens of area residents who become camp counselors.

    July 22, 2014 2 Photos

  • Jasper County Commission reviews traffic plans

    The Jasper County Commission will hold public hearings today and Thursday on a number of traffic changes proposed in the county. No one spoke when the first hearing was held Tuesday as part of the regular commission meeting, according to Jim Honey, Eastern District associate commissioner.

    July 22, 2014

Must Read
Sports
Photos


Facebook
Poll

Have you ever served as a volunteer for your state's conservation department?

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