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Petitioning Manchin to Protect Medicare, Social Security, Medicaid

The petition was delivered to WV Senator Joe Manchin's Charleston office on Monday afternoon. Photo by Dan Heyman.
The petition was delivered to WV Senator Joe Manchin's Charleston office on Monday afternoon. Photo by Dan Heyman.
December 11, 2012

CHARLESTON, W.Va. - West Virginia unions and their allies are petitioning Senator Joe Manchin to tax the wealthy and protect Medicare, Social Security and Medicaid. Manchin is considered a swing vote in the so-called "fiscal cliff" discussions. He's voted to let the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy expire, and has long argued that more should be done to reduce the deficit.

Kenny Perdue, president of the West Virginia AFL-CIO, says the petition is intended to remind Manchin that many West Virginians, including the working poor, depend on Medicare, Social Security and Medicaid to keep their heads above water.

"There are enough people that are going to realize that we're going to be held accountable for this, so we need to do something. When the light's turned out in D.C. and they go home for the holidays, I believe the senator's going to be in the right place."

Republicans in Congress have voted to cut Medicaid sharply, raise the age at which people can qualify for Medicare, and reduce Social Security benefits.

Although the House Republicans have taken a hard line on cutting the programs, Perdue says the state's GOP representatives are well aware that could be politically problematic.

"For a while you can play hardball. Congressman McKinley and Capito were also voted for in the First and Second Congressional district by people that are on Social Security and Medicare and Medicaid."

Home health-care worker Hattie Johnson says she sees many elderly people just getting by. She says some of her clients could be in serious trouble if their benefits were reduced and they could no longer afford home health care.

"If the service I perform is not performed, you will have seniors hungry and homeless, and dying in nursing homes because they can't stay in their homes."

West Virginia has one of the highest proportions of people enrolled in the programs, more than 400,000 receiving Social Security and nearly as many in Medicare and Medicaid.

The petition was delivered to Manchin's office Monday.

Dan Heyman, Public News Service - WV