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Retirees in Action

   Jim Carr  A message from PEF Retiree President Jim Carr

No excuses for not voting. Do it

With the approach of fall, comes the November election to select a president, congressional representatives, state senators, and Assembly representatives.  All of these elections are important, because the candidates we elect will determine the future of our country, our state and our communities.  Elections have consequences, and when good people don’t vote, bad things can happen.

To help you cut through the fog of political campaigning, PEF’s legislative and political staff compiled a 2020 Presidential Candidate Scorecard On the Issues. Here is how that information shakes out:

President Trump’s 2020-2021 budget proposal
and other stated positions

Health care

• Cuts 9 percent from Health and Human Services (HHS) Department funding. The proposed HHS budget of $96.4 billion is down from the $105.8 billion enacted for fiscal 2020;
• Cuts $693 million in funding for the Center for Disease Control (CDC), despite the spread of the coronavirus;
• Cuts Medicare by $750 billion over 10 years;
• Cuts Medicaid by $920 billion over 10 years by establishing a bloc grant program to replace the current needs-based program;
• Pursuing litigation to challenge mandated insurance coverage of pre-existing conditions under Obamacare (Affordable Care Act);
• Fighting in federal court to dismantle every protection and benefit of the Affordable Care Act, including protections for people with pre-existing conditions, but has presented no replacement plan;

Food assistance

• Cuts $182 billion from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) over 10 years – a 28 percent cut;

Social Security

• Cuts $70 billion from Social Security disability benefits;
• Advocating for a payroll tax cut that would cut money going into Social Security – the payroll tax accounts for almost 90% of the income for Social Security;


• Cuts Department of Labor funding by $1.3 billion (10.5-percent decrease), down to $11.1 billion;
• Proposes $200 million in apprenticeships for a program that would undercut standards and unions in order to benefit industry;
• Cuts $4.4 million from for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), down to $577 million;
• Cuts more than $500 million in job training programs;
• Abandoned overtime pay protections for 12.5 million workers by failing to defend existing rule for overtime pay in court;
• Signed a resolution that blocked the Workplace Injury and Illness recordkeeping rule (April 3, 2017);
• Signed a resolution blocking the Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces Rule;
• Requires states to use already overburdened state unemployment systems to implement paid family leave for new parents;


• Permanently extends all expiring temporary individual income tax provisions — as well as expiring estate and gift tax provisions – in the TCJA, which are currently scheduled to sunset at the end of 2025. This change would cost $1.4 trillion in revenue over the 2021-2030 budget window, and overwhelmingly benefit the wealthy.
• Fails to reinstitute the deductibility of state and local taxes curtained by the enactment of the federal Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017.

Higher education/student debt

• Cuts student loan programs by $190.8 billion over 10 years;
• Eliminates Public Service Loan Forgiveness
• Eliminates subsidized student loans, making borrowing for college more expensive;
• Vetoed bipartisan legislation to overturn a Department of Education rule that prohibitis loan forgiveness for students if the school they attended employed illegal or deceptive tactics to encourage them to incur debt to attend the school;


• Cuts Environmental Protection Agency budget by 26.5 percent;
• Pulled U.S. out of Paris Climate Agreement;
• Issued Executive Order calling for a 30 percent increase in logging on public lands; and
• Officially dropped climate change from the list of threats to national security.


Joe Biden’s legislative history
and presidential policy platform

Health care

• Supported enactment of Obamacare (ACA) that afforded health insurance coverage to more than 30 million Americans who had no coverage before it was enacted;
• Voted to override veto of Medicare expansion (July, 2008);
• Voted to require negotiated drug prices under Medicare Part D (April, 2007);
• Voted to allow re-importation of drugs from Canada (July, 2002);
• Voted against Medicare “means testing” (June, 1997);
• Voted to add 2-4 million children onto SCHIP Eligibility (Nov., 2007);
• Voted to allow patients to sue HMOs and collect punitive damages (June, 2001);
• Would lower Medicare eligibility to age 60 and to expand coverage of Obamacare;
• Would reinstitute the individual mandate to ensure maximum coverage;
• Would lower prescription drug costs by allowing the Medicare administration to negotiate drug prices;
• Would allow Americans to purchase cheaper drugs from other nations such as Canada;

Social Security

• Opposed privatization of Social Security to allow for optional private accounts;
• Would eliminate the payroll tax cap to support and strengthen Social Security;
• Would increase Social Security benefits for older Americans;
• Would implement a true minimum Social Security benefit for low-wage workers;
• Would protect widows and widowers from steep Social Security benefit cuts;


• Voted to restrict employer interference in union organizing (June, 2007);
• Voted to increase the minimum wage (Feb., 2007);
• Voted to increase the minimum wage (March, 2005);
• Would strengthen all levels of enforcement within the Department of Labor;
• Would encourage and incentivize unionization and collective bargaining;


• Voted for increasing taxes on those making $1 million or more (March, 2008;
• Voted against repealing the death tax (June, 2006);
• Voted against reducing taxes on capital gains and dividends (Feb., 2006);
• Voted to increase tax deductions for college tuition (May 2001;)
• Voted to eliminate the “Marriage Penalty” tax (July, 2000);
• Would adjust tax code to fund priorities and to ensure tax fairness based on the ability to pay;
• Would reinstitute the deductibility of state and local taxes;

Higher education/student debt

• Has supported making student loan debt dischargeable in bankruptcy;
• Would make student loans dischargeable in bankruptcy;
• Voted in support of closing corporate tax loopholes to provide $11 billion for education (2006 Fiscal Year Budget Resolution Amendment);
• Would provide up to two years of community college education tuition free;
• Would provide public college or university under-graduate education tuition free for families who earn less than $125,000 annually;
• Would waive up to $10,000 per year of student debt for up to five years for public sector workers;
• Would cover student loans for all students who make less than $25,000 annually;
• Would increase Pell grant availability and award amounts;


• Oversaw the “Reinvestment and Recovery Act” under President Obama, which was designed to modernize the nation’s energy and communication infrastructure and enhance energy independence;
• Voted to include oil and gas smokestacks in mercury regulations (Sept., 2005);
• Voted to require EPA risk assessments (May, 1994);
• Would lead the U.S. to re-join the Paris Climate Agreement;
• Would ensure the U.S. achieves net zero emissions by 2050; and
• Would invest $1.7 trillion in climate and clean energy.

Retirees also are engaged politically with the PEF Statewide PAC in these elections. PEF Retirees has a repesentative on that committee. PEF endorsements for president, Congress, NYS Senate and NYS Assembly were approved at the PEF August Executive Board meeting.  The endorsements are based on the recommendations of first, the regional Political Action Committees that screened the candidates and reviewed their records, then, secondly. the recommendation of PEF’s statewide PAC and finally by the review, debate and votes of the Executive Board members.  PEF Retirees has a representative on that PEF board. The goal was to endorse the candidate in each race that they believe will potentially be the most effective in advancing the union’s legislative and public policy goals.  You can find those endorsements under Action on the PEF website.

Please get involved with your PEF Regional PACs and volunteer to help in any way you can to get these candidates elected.

Be an informed voter and use the PEF endorsement of candidates to help guide your decision on who will best represent your interests. Most of all vote. You can vote as early as October 24, so check with your county board of elections for the dates, times and places. Or you can vote by mail by absentee ballot, which you would need to request from the BOE. And, of course you can vote as always on Election Day, November 3, at your polling place.  Choose the opportunity that suits you best, and vote.  Our democracy can’t work unless we vote to make it work.

Please vote for our union-endorsed candidates!

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