Legislative Update for Week Ending April 7, 2017

Legislative Update for Week Ending April 7, 2017

This week, at an event on Capitol Hill, Congressman John Larson (CT-1) introduced comprehensive legislation that would strengthen and protect the Social Security program. In addition, lawmakers adjourned for a two-week spring recess.

Congressman Larson Introduces New Legislation

On Wednesday, at an event on Capitol Hill, Congressman John Larson (CT-1) – Ranking Member of the Ways and Means Social Security Subcommittee – introduced legislation that would strengthen benefits and extend the solvency of the trust funds for decades to come. Congressman Larson’s Social Security 2100 Act (H.R. 1902) was introduced with the support of 156 original cosponsors – more than any other comprehensive reform bill to date.

If signed into law, the bill would provide beneficiaries with a 2 percent benefit boost, base cost-of-living adjustments on the more accurate Consumer Price Index for the Elderly, create a new minimum benefit set at 125 percent of the poverty line, and eliminate taxes on Social Security benefits for millions of seniors. To cover the cost of those changes and extend the solvency of the program through the year 2100, the bill would apply the payroll tax to annual income over $400,000, and it would gradually increase the payroll tax rate by 0.25 percent – a modest amount that would cost the average individual an extra fifty cents per week.

At Wednesday’s event, several Members of Congress – including House Ways and Means Committee Ranking Member Richard Neal (MA-1), Co-Chair of the Seniors Task Force Jan Schakowsky (IL-9), and Senate Aging Committee Member Richard Blumenthal (CT) – announced their support for the bill. Upon introducing it, Congressman Larson said: “Social Security is not an entitlement – it’s the insurance Americans have paid for to fund retirement, disability, and survivor benefits through a lifetime of work … Social Security is the most successful program in American history, and it is time to expand it for the future. This bill will secure your future, your family, and our nation.”

The Senior Citizens League (TSCL) agrees with Congressman Larson, and we enthusiastically support his new bill since it would strengthen and reform the program responsibly, without cutting benefits for seniors. In a letter of endorsement, Art Cooper – the Chairman of TSCL’s Board of Trustees – wrote: “Your bill would provide much-needed financial protection for older Americans, and it would go a long way in ensuring the retirement security senior citizens have earned and deserve … Thank you for being a true champion for Social Security beneficiaries in the United States House of Representatives.”

In the weeks and months ahead, TSCL looks forward to working with Congressman Larson to help build additional support for the Social Security 2100 Act. For updates on the status of the bill, follow TSCL on Twitter. To view a list of current cosponsors, click HERE.

Lawmakers Prepare for Two-Week Recess

On Thursday, lawmakers in the House returned to their home states and districts to begin a two-week spring recess. Those in the Senate are expected to leave Washington on Friday, after voting to confirm the Supreme Court nomination of Neil Gorsuch. Both chambers are scheduled to be back in session by Tuesday, April 25th.

Until then, many Members of Congress will be holding town hall meetings to address the questions and concerns of their constituents. TSCL encourages its members and supporters to attend these town halls and to ask questions of their elected officials about important Social Security and Medicare issues, like the following three…

1. Most Americans contribute 6.2 percent of every paycheck to Social Security, but due to the payroll tax cap, people earning more than $127,200 contribute nothing over that amount. Do you support legislation like the newly-introduced Social Security 2100 Act (H.R. 1902) that would extend the solvency of the program by requiring millionaires and billionaires to pay their fair share?
2. The federal government negotiates prescription drug prices for Medicaid and for veterans, but it is not allowed to negotiate lower prices for Medicare beneficiaries. Do you support this policy?
3. If the Social Security cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) were based on a more accurate measure of inflation for seniors, beneficiaries would not be receiving a record-low 0.3% increase this year. They would be receiving an increase of 2.1% according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Do you support legislation that would base the COLA on a more accurate inflation index like the Consumer Price Index for the Elderly?

To see if your Members of Congress will be holding town hall meetings during the spring recess, click HERE or call their local offices. You can find contact information HERE.

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