CBO ~~ July 2014












What Are the Causes of Projected Growth in Spending for Social Security and Major Health Care Programs?








end of June …

a message from Raina Thiele

whitehousebannerGood afternoon,In this update, you will learn about some of the ways in which President Obama and his Administration continueto address the interests, concerns, and needs of the American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) community.Please visit us online to learn more about the White House Office of Public Engagement, the White House Office of Intergovernmental Affairs, and the White House’s work with the Native American community. Please encourage your friends and colleagues to sign up for updates!

Best regards,

Raina Thiele
Office of Intergovernmental Affairs and Public Engagement
The White House

President Obama Engages Native Youth at My Brother’s Keeper Town Hall

On July 21, President Obama hosted a town hall session featuring the My Brother’s Keeper  initiative. He announced new commitments in support of MBK and engaged in dialogue with young boys and men of color. Youth from the Center for Native American Youth’s Champions for Change program, the Native American Political Leadership Institute’s INSPIRE Initiative, and the Navajo Nation attended the town hall and asked the President about the Administration’s work to support Native American language and cultural preservation.

The President reaffirmed his commitment to Native American youth and the importance of honoring one’s roots. Discussing his trip to the Standing Rock Sioux Indian Reservation in June, the President applauded the tribe’s work on Lakota language revitalization and remarked about the powerful stories he heard from the tribe’s young people.

Click here to learn more about the recent My Brother’s Keeper town hall.

My Brother's Keeper town hall

Task Force on Climate Preparedness and Resilience Announces Tribal Climate Resilience Program

On July 16, the White House State, Local, and Tribal Leaders Task Force on Climate Preparedness and Resilience held its fourth and final meeting. In an effort to help tribes prepare for climate change, the Administration announced its new Tribal Climate Resilience Program. As part of this initiative, Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell will dedicate $10 million in funding for tribes and tribal organizations to develop tools to enable adaptive resource management, as well as the ability to plan for climate resilience.

Additionally, the Department of the Interior and the Environmental Protection Agency will partner to create a new subgroup on climate change under the White House Council on Native American Affairs. This subgroup will share data and information and coordinate Administration efforts to assist tribes in climate resilience and mitigation efforts.

Click here to learn more about the Administration’s Tribal Climate Resilience Program.

AmeriCorps Expands Presence in Tribal Communities

As part of President Obama’s commitment to Indian Country, AmeriCorps announced $3 million in grants to support Native American communities. These funds will increase the number of AmeriCorps members serving tribal communities by 41 percent. In total, these 17 tribal grants will support more than 250 AmeriCorps members serving with tribal organizations in 13 states.

Click here to learn more about AmeriCorps expansion in tribal communities.

The President and First Lady’s Historic Visit to Indian Country

On June 13, President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama traveled to the Standing Rock Sioux Tribal Nation in Cannonball, North Dakota for the President’s first visit to Indian Country since taking office. Accompanied by the First Lady, the President met with Native American youth, tribal leaders, and attended the tribe’s annual Flag Day celebration where he spoke to Indian Country.

“My Administration is determined to partner with tribes, and it’s not something that just happens once in a while,” the President said. “It takes place every day, on just about every issue that touches your lives. And that’s what real nation-to-nation partnerships look like.”

Also on June 13, the White House released a fact sheet on economic development and education, including a blueprint for reforming the Bureau of Indian Education.

Click here to learn more about the President’s June 2014 trip to Indian Country.

Click here to watch the highlights.

The President attends the Cannon Ball Flag Day Powwow.

President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama attended the Cannon Ball Flag Day Powwow in Cannon Ball, North Dakota, on June 13, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Statement by the President on the Passing of Billy Frank, Jr.

On May 5, President Obama released a statement on the passing of Billy Frank, Jr.:

I was saddened to learn of the passing of Billy Frank, Jr. — Chairman of the Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission and a member of the Nisqually Indian Tribe. Billy fought for treaty rights to fish the waters of the Pacific Northwest, a battle he finally won in 1974 after being arrested many times during tribal “fish-ins.” Today, thanks to his courage and determined effort, our resources are better protected, and more tribes are able to enjoy the rights preserved for them more than a century ago. Billy never stopped fighting to make sure future generations would be able to enjoy the outdoors as he did, and his passion on the issue of climate change should serve as an inspiration to us all. I extend my deepest sympathies to the Nisqually Indian Tribe, and to Billy’s family, and to his many friends who so greatly admired him.

Click here to read the President’s statement.

White House Council on Native American Affairs Update

On May 1, Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell convened a successful third meeting of the White House Council on Native American Affairs. Seven Cabinet Secretaries and senior officials discussed ongoing progress and current priorities aimed at working more collaboratively and effectively with American Indian and Alaska Native Tribes to advance their economic and social goals.

Among the topics discussed were promoting sustainable Tribal economic development; supporting greater access to and control over healthcare; improving the effectiveness of the Tribal justice systems; expanding and improving educational opportunities for Native youth; and supporting sustainable management of Native lands, environments, and natural resources.

The meeting was concluded with a discussion of the group’s preliminary findings and recommendations for the Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Indian Education.

Click here to learn more about the May White House Council on Native American Affairs meeting.

White House Council on Native American Affairs meeting

Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell convenes the third meeting of the White House Council on Native American Affairs, May 1, 2014. (U.S. Department of the Interior)

Stay Connected

The State of Social Security and Medicare


What You Need To Know From The Latest Social Security Trustees Annual Report

The latest annual report from the trustees for Social Security and Medicare came out today. It provided some very good news on the health care front: the report extended Medicare’s solvency by four years from 2026 to 2030. This improved financial health can be attributed in part to the Affordable Care Act, which is helping to reduce costs. Just a few years ago, before the Affordable Care Act was fully implemented, the trustees predicted that the Medicare trust fund would run out by 2016. Another reason to be thankful for the ACA.

On the Social Security front, some news reports are focusing on the financial shortfall that the program faces in the next 75 years. But it is both expected and manageable. Here are the four key takeaways, from a post by Center for American Progress experts Rebecca Vallas and Christian E. Weller:

1. Social Security can continue to pay all promised benefits for the next two decades. As was the case in last year’s report, the Trustees continue to estimate that Social Security will be able to pay all scheduled retirement, disability, and survivorship benefits through 2033. Social Security has two trust funds: one for the retirement and survivorship benefit programs, and one for the much smaller Disability Insurance (DI) program (although experts generally consider the two funds together due to the interrelated nature of Social Security’s programs). Individually, the Old Age and Survivors Insurance (OASI) trust fund is projected to deplete its reserves in 2035, and the DI trust fund will do so in 2016. After 2033, the Trustees project that Social Security income from payroll taxes will be sufficient to cover 77 percent of promised benefits after 2033, unless policymakers implement changes before then.

2. Social Security’s shortfall is modest. The Trustees project that the entire Social Security shortfall for the next 75 years will be about 1 percent of GDP, or 2.88 percent of taxable payroll. The bulk of this shortfall, 2.55 percent of payroll or 88.5 percent of the entire shortfall, is attributed to OASI. The Trustees have long projected both the OASI and DI shortfalls. While an aging population is frequently discussed as the driving factor, recent analysis by Monique Morrissey at the Economic Policy Institute finds that as much as half of the shortfall is attributable to rising inequality and wage growth that has lagged behind gains in productivity.

3. The fact that action will soon be needed to address Disability Insurance’s finances has long been expected. As with last year’s report, this year the Trustees continue to project that the DI trust fund will be exhausted in 2016—something that has been expected for nearly 20 years.

4. A routine step would ensure that Social Security can pay all benefits in full through 2033. Rebalancing—an adjustment in the share of payroll taxes allocated to each of the trust funds—has occurred in a bipartisan manner 11 times in the program’s history to account for demographic shifts or other changes. About half the time funds have been reallocated toward OASI, and about half the time toward DI.

BOTTOM LINE: The trustees for Social Security and Medicare brought the good news that Medicare’s financial health is better than expected. And the predictions it makes for Social Security are both expected and manageable–permitting our elected officials can take action to strengthen this program that is a bedrock of economic security for working Americans.

Breaking News: Cargill Releases New Palm Oil Pledge!

We are moving mountains.Today, after seven years of nonstop pressure from RAN, agribusiness giant Cargill – the largest importer of palm oil into the U.S. – made a major new pledge to root out and remove deforestation, species extinction and human suffering from its palm oil supply chains.

This is a major milestone as Cargill has long resisted change, even in the face of strong public outcry and bold action by its competitors. You have bombarded Cargill with petitions, creative acts of nonviolent civil disobedience, saturated the company’s hometown of Wayzata, MN with ads exposing Cargill’s role in orangutan extinction, rainforest destruction, child labor and human rights abuses and pressured its customers – the Snack Food 20 – to cut Conflict Palm Oil from its products.

Cargill is now committing to build a traceable and transparent palm oil supply chain and is seeking compliance from its suppliers to end egregious practices such as the destruction of rainforests and peatlands and the exploitation of Indigenous Peoples, workers and local communities.

Thanks to your hard work and continued pressure, Cargill is on the move!

As we know, the devil is truly in the details. It is too early to tell if Cargill will successfully transform itself from its current business model into a trusted supplier of responsible palm oil. Crucial details, including an ambitious deadline to cut Conflict Palm Oil, an implementation plan, and details on the independent oversight that will be used to ensure outcomes for forests, peatlands, and the communities whose lives depend on them are still missing.

Cargill must address the critical gaps in its new pledge. We need your help. Tell Cargill that we are watching its next steps and demanding that the company cuts Conflict Palm Oil for good.

We need you to tweet today!

TWEET THIS–> Hey @Cargill, fix the gaps in your new #palmoil pledge! via @RAN http://a.ran.org/sm

Cargill is the largest privately held corporation in the world and the largest importer of palm oil into the United States. An enormously powerful agricultural company that influences almost every aspect of our food supply, its business lines touch every level of palm oil production, trade, refining and marketing as it moves palm oil from producers to end consumers. This breakthrough shows that by pressuring Cargill’s customers, the Snack Food 20, we are driving reforms throughout the global palm oil supply chain and broader food system.

Cargill’s new pledge is untested. Rest assured, we will hold Cargill to account, starting with demanding that it addresses the critical gaps in its new commitment and stops buying Conflict Palm Oil from controversial companies.

To keep the action going on Cargill and the Snack Food 20 that uses their Conflict Palm Oil join RAN’s Palm Oil Action Team!
Ashley Schaeffer
Palm Oil Campaigner

Congress still hasn’t passed a Veteran’s Health Bill …


Last month, after 100,000-plus veterans, military family members, and VoteVets supporters acted, the United States Senate passed Bernie Sanders’ Restoring Veterans’ Trust Act by a vote of 93-3.

The bill promises to increase the number of doctors and nurses at VA facilities while authorizing spending to lease twenty-seven additional clinics. These are important steps Congress should take right now in order to improve short and long-term care for our nation’s veterans.

So, why hasn’t it gotten to President Obama’s desk yet?

The short answer is that several Tea Partiers in the House and Mitch McConnell’s Senate Caucus are trying to gum up the works and stall until Congress goes on their five week recess this Friday.

Can you imagine? Veterans are dying, and some Members of Congress are counting down the clock to their extended vacation.

Tell Congress: Pass the Sanders legislation to improve the veterans’ health care system before you adjourn for a five-week “August Recess.”

The good news is, a bipartisan deal between House and Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chairmen was announced just yesterday.

Leave it to Congress to wait until the last minute, but it looks like this bill could get to President Obama by week’s end.

But in Washington, D.C. you never know, so let’s make sure they hear from us before skipping town.


If no action is taken by Thursday morning, we’ll deliver signatures from every veteran, military family member and VoteVets supporter who has signed on in support of Senator Sanders’ bill.

This is important,

Jon Soltz
Iraq War Veteran and Chairman