This week, The Senior Citizens League’s (TSCL) legislative team met with several Members of Congress and their top staff to discuss legislation that would protect and defend the Social Security benefits of seniors. In addition, members of TSCL’s legislative team were in attendance at the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction’s first public hearing. TSCL also saw support grow for a key piece of legislation.
Support Grows for Notch Fairness Act
This week, five new cosponsors signed on to the Notch Fairness Act (H.R. 1001). They are: Reps. Jesse Jackson, Jr. (IL-2), Collin Peterson (MN-7), Maurice Hinchey (NY-22), Elton Gallegly (CA-24), and Christopher Smith (NJ-4). These cosponsor additions bring the total up to 35.
The Notch Fairness Act, which was introduced by Rep. Mike McIntyre (NC-7) in March, would provide compensation to Notch babies, or those born between the years 1917 and 1926. Just years before they were set to retire, these individuals learned that they would have significantly lower benefits than they originally anticipated. TSCL feels that this is an inequity that was brought about because of the Social Security Act Amendments enacted and signed into law in 1977.
TSCL strongly supports legislation like the Notch Fairness Act that would provide Notch babies with modest compensation, and we were pleased to see support grow this week.
TSCL Meets with Members of Congress
This week, TSCL’s legislative consultants, Former Congressman David Funderburk and Mrs. Betty Funderburk, along with TSCL’s legislative assistant, Jarrad Hensley, were on Capitol Hill for meetings with Members of Congress and their top staff.
TSCL would like to thank Reps. Larry Bucshon (IN-8), Richard Hanna (NY-24), Mike Conaway (TX-11), Rodney Alexander (LA-5), Jesse Jackson, Jr. (IL-2), Gregory Meeks (NY-6), and Christopher Smith (NJ-4) for taking the time to meet and discuss important issues for seniors. TSCL also met with top staffers in the following offices: Reps. Grace Napolitano (CA-39), Randy Hultgren (IL-14), Roscoe Bartlett (MD-6), Steve Southerland (FL-2), Dennis Kucinich (OH-10), and Peter Visclosky (IL-1).
Discussion of these meetings centered around the Social Security issues of Notch Fairness and Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) bills. The goal of these meetings was to secure support, or sponsorship, for these pre-existing pieces of legislation. As a result of our meetings, two Representatives to date have pledged their support for the Notch Fairness Act (H.R. 1001): Jesse Jackson, Jr. (IL-2), and Christopher Smith (NJ-4).
The TSCL legislative team continues to work diligently to promote the issues affecting our members. While much of this week’s success was focused on current bills, our team also strives to stay on top of forth-coming legislation yet to be formally introduced. The work of our committed legislative team enables TSCL to keep capable eyes and ears on Congress’ inner-workings to better represent the concerns of our valued members.
“Super Congress” Holds First Hearing
On Tuesday, TSCL’s Legislative Analyst, Jessie Gibbons, attended the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction’s first public hearing. The Committee heard testimony from Doug Elmendorf, Director of the Congressional Budget Office (CBO).
Elmendorf began his testimony by sharing some grim projections that have recently been developed by the CBO. He stated that the economy will likely grow by only 1.5 percent this year, and that next year, it’s expected to increase by only 2.5 percent. He also announced that the unemployment rate will continue to hover around the 9 percent mark until the end of 2012.
Throughout his testimony, Elmendorf stressed the fact that programs like Social Security and Medicare will continue to grow despite the slow pace of the economic recovery. Over the next ten years, he noted that the number of Americans over the age of sixty-five will increase by one-third.
To address this issue, Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl (AZ), suggested that the Committee focus on waste, fraud, and abuse, since it’s a topic that generally has bipartisan support. He stated, “Some people fear the solution has to be a cut in benefits. There may be very substantial savings that can be achieved through efficiencies.” Most at the hearing seemed to agree with him.
Tuesday’s hearing made it clear that the Joint Committee has an enormous amount of work to do in a very short amount of time and in a very politically-charged environment. Adding to the pressure, Elmendorf told the Committee Members that if they wish to have their proposal scored by the CBO before voting on it, they’ll need to submit it by early November, giving them less than two months to reach a compromise. Despite the tough circumstances, most Members seemed up to the challenge and will to, as one Committee Member put it, “go big, go long, and go smart.”