Bay Area Democrats: GOP plan is disastrous to elders, disabled

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Yaki accused Republicans of "resorting to the old tried-and-true lowest common denominator" of presenting "unpaid-for tax cuts" while also promising a balanced budget.

The Republican economic plan presented at this week's San Diego convention will lead to "deep cuts" in Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security benefits, student loans and education, according to Yaki.

"We cannot do that to our seniors, students who will be our future, and those who are sick and disabled," Yaki added. "That's not the America we know."

Sitting around a conference table at JFCS — a location chosen because the Jewish agency serves the elderly and other groups Democrats warn would be affected by GOP cuts — Yaki introduced several "real people with real stories and real fears." Many, he said, will "bear the brunt of the Extreme Team's cuts."

Abe Friedman, a law student at U.C. Berkeley and co-chair of Boalt Hall College of Law's Democratic Club, praised President Bill Clinton for passing the Student Loan Reform Act and proposing a $1,500 tax credit for the parents of college students.

Without government aid, Friedman said, law school would have been financially impossible for him.

"I've been working part-time since I was 15 to go to college, my parents have worked hard. But I couldn't be where I am today without student loans," Friedman said.

"If you want to talk about families, you have to talk about supporting students and education."

To the California Democratic Party, which sponsored the press conference, students aren't the only ones who should worry about the "Extreme Team." So should the elderly, many of whom are dependent on government assistance.

Speaking against Medicare cuts, Chuck Ayala of Centro Latino de San Francisco, which serves seniors, called the program "the greatest piece of legislation since Social Security."

Ayala said seniors from the Mission District facility he represents "would be devastated" without the health-care program.

Other speakers praised not only Clinton's leadership and support of seniors and students, but also his work on behalf of the disabled.

Jose Caedo, of the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Democratic Club for Disabled Persons and Seniors, is both sight-impaired and a recipient of Medicare. He talked about his efforts there to "give back" to the community after receiving a kidney transplant five years ago.

For Caedo, cutting aid to disabled persons like himself is a "social and moral issue" more than a financial one.

"I have met hundreds of disabled Americans on Medicaid or Medicare and we all try to give back, despite our limitations," Caedo said. "The disabled, who have less in life, should have more in the law."

Yaki vowed to help Americans see the "real stories" of Americans and prove that the Republican election theme of "family values" is contradicted by their proposed economic platform.