What Working America Members Want for Christmas

Here’s a holiday wish list that represents what working people want this holiday season:

  • Medicare and Social Security to be protected for Santa
  • Medicaid and Education to be protected for Tiny Tim
  • A good job to be available for Bob Cratchit
  • And NO MORE Bush Tax Cuts for Scrooge!

Working America Pittsburgh members delivered that message loud and clear to Sen. Bob Casey this week. With negotiations underway in Washington, we’re in the final stretch now. What better gift for our seniors is there than protecting their retirement security? What better gift is there for our children than protecting their health and educations? And what better gift is there for working people than protecting decent jobs that help the community?

Three Working America Pittsburgh members presented their personal stories about why they value and need Social Security, education, and other essential programs and services that are on the chopping block. Another member, Lisa Caffo—who participated in yesterday’s event along with her daughter—wrote about what some of these programs mean to her from a health and workers’ rights standpoint:

I wanted to share what cuts to Medicare and Medicaid could do within a nursing home.

The staff who took care of my mother while she was in a nursing home were excellent, but from working in nursing homes for 36 years, I know that nursing assistants receive little pay for their demanding and invaluable work. Nursing assistants care for 8 to 15 people per shift, feeding them, bathing them, walking them, repositioning them, toileting them, and helping them with daily activities they cannot do alone. Nursing assistants also are often the only people who are consistently in the lives of patients in nursing homes. A nursing assistant will become like family to his or her patients. I’ve seen patients withdraw, complain, or flat-out holler if they’re separated from the aide they’ve grown to know and love.

But if nursing homes have to slash already-low wages because of reduced funding for Medicare or Medicaid, caretakers may find such physically and mentally demanding work that offers little pay to be an unsustainable way to live. And so some caretakers may end up leaving the field.

Nursing assistants can’t afford lower wages. And patients shouldn’t have to suffer through emotional and health-related fall-out from high staff turn-over.

Fortunately, we can prevent such problems. We can protect programs like Medicare and Medicaid in a fiscally responsible way by allowing the Bush Tax Cuts to expire on the highest-earning 2% of Americans.