FREDONIA - With November elections drawing near, candidate endorsements become a sought-after commodity.
Congressional candidate Martha Robertson, D-Dryden, was in Fredonia on Thursday to accept the formal endorsement from the Political Action Committee of the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare. Phil Rotondi is the political director for the group, and ventured to Fredonia Place from Washington, D.C., to make the announcement in front of nearly a dozen supporters.
Rotondi said the national committee is a 32-year-old, non-profit, non-partisan membership organization.
Martha Robertson, the Democratic candidate for Congress in New York’s 23rd District, accepts a pair of boxing gloves from Phil Rotondi of the Political Action Committee of the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare on Thursday at Fredonia Place. Rotondi was present to formally endorse Robertson on behalf of the committee and said the gloves would allow Robertson to be symbolically armed.
Photo by Gib Snyder
"Our mission is to advocate before Congress and the executive branch on issues that effect older Americans and their families. We also advocate in the political arena through the political action committee, which I'm representing today," he added. "I am here to give our endorsement to Martha Robertson for election to the United States House of Representatives in November."
Robertson is running against Republican incumbent Tom Reed, R-Corning, for New York's 23rd Congressional District seat.
In noting it is the 79th anniversary of Social Security, Rotondi added Social Security and Medicare trustees announced July 28 that after receiving $32 billion in interest payments Social Security's assets total $2.76 trillion.
"That's enough to pay full benefits until 2033, and maybe to 2044," he added. "Medicare 2, which just last month celebrated its 49th anniversary, received some great news. Medicare solvency has been extended from the year 2016 to 2030 as a result of legislation and reforms that were enacted just four years ago."
Rotondi said there are 159,000 Social Security recipients in the 23rd District, with 64 percent being retirees. According to Rotondi's figures, of the rest of the recipients 28,000 are disabled workers, 17,000 are widows, widowers or spouses and 12,354 are children.
"Social Security is there for children or anyone who might be confronted with one of life's tragedies. It is in fact a program for every generation," he added. "Since 2004, Social Security has been under almost continual assault and more recently Medicare has been brought into the fray. There are active proposals in Congress to cut Social Security benefits and end traditional Medicare to the benefit of insurance companies. ... Social Security benefits are modest, just over $15,000 a year. ... Most people receiving Medicare benefits have incomes of $23,000 a year or less."
Rotondi went on to say the next Congress may decide the future of both programs, adding one of the reasons for the Robertson endorsement was a lack of satisfaction with Reed. Rotondi claimed Reed did not support legislation boosting Social Security payments, did not express opposition to reducing cost-of-living adjustments while supporting a "budget framework that would raise the retirement age and for some people, means test the benefits."
"To protect Social Security and Medicare we need people who will stand up and fight for these important programs. ... Martha Robertson stands with us, and come November with your support and your votes Martha Robertson will be with us in Congress in January."
Robertson said she was honored and delighted with the endorsement, which included a pair of symbolic boxing gloves. Robertson added her mother worked until 85 because "she was so afraid that Medicare and Social Security wouldn't be there for her."
"I'm running for Congress today because no senior should ever be in that position. These are all earned benefits that seniors have paid into all their lives," she continued. "We need an independent leader in Washington who will fight for Medicare, fight for Social Security, and that is why I'm delighted and proud to have these boxing gloves which I look forward to hanging on the wall of my house."
Robertson said her record in Tompkins County included establishing the Tompkins RX Prescription Drug Discount Program which since 2005, has saved residents on average $60 per prescription for more than $2 million of savings on health care costs, with no taxpayer cost at all.
"That's the kind of bi-partisan, common-sense solution that I'll bring to Washington, what I've been doing for 12 years in the county legislature. I know how to make these things work."
According to Robertson, Reed's votes would "be an absolute disaster for the retirees of today and tomorrow. ... We must address the deficit but not on the backs of our senior citizens who paid into this program all their working lives. The worst part is Tom Reed has voted on these cuts so he can pay for new tax breaks for millionaires like himself."
Robertson added she wanted to tackle the problems in the 23rd District and New York state that "Tom Reed is making worse with his policies. ... I look forward to working with you to getting the vote out on Nov. 4 and bringing the middle class back to the top of the list in Washington."