Legislative Update For Week Ending February 10, 2012

Legislative Update For Week Ending February 10, 2012

This week, The Senior Citizens League’s (TSCL) Board of Trustees and legislative team held meetings with several Members of Congress and their top staff to discuss key issues affecting seniors.  In addition, one new cosponsor signed on to the CPI-E Act, and negotiations between the House-Senate Conference Committee continued.

TSCL’s Board of Trustees Meets with Members of Congress

On Wednesday, TSCL’s Board of Trustees, along with former Congressman David Funderburk and Mrs. Betty Funderburk, and legislative analyst Jessie Gibbons, held meetings on Capitol Hill in seven Congressional offices. TSCL’s dedicated, all-volunteer Board of Trustees consists of the following members: chairman Larry Hyland, vice-chairman Tom O’Connell, secretary Charlie Flowers, treasurer Ed Cates, political action committee (PAC) treasurer Michael Gales, and board liaison and president of The Retired Enlisted Association (TREA) Arthur Cooper.

TSCL would like to thank Reps.  Allen West (FL-22), Madeleine Bordallo (GU), Cedric Richmond (LA-2), Tom Marino (PA-10), and Bill Posey (FL-15) for taking the time to discuss the issues that are most important to our members and supporters. TSCL also met with Anna Gonzalez, Rules Associate for Rep. Alcee Hastings (FL-23), and Brett Richards, Legislative Assistant to Rep. Steven Palazzo (MS-4).

During these meetings, the following issues were discussed: Social Security cost-of-living adjustments, Social Security Notch fairness, Social Security Totalization agreement reform, and repeal of both the windfall elimination provision (WEP) and the government pension offset (GPO). Support was expressed for many of these key issues, and TSCL looks forward to working with these offices in the future.

Support Grows for CPI-E Act

One new cosponsor – Rep. Michael Michaud (ME-2) – signed on to Rep. Peter DeFazio’s Consumer Price Index for Elderly Consumers (CPI-E) Act (H.R. 798) this week. The cosponsor total for this bill is now up to 29.

The CPI-E Act, if signed into law, would amend the Social Security Act with regard to the annual cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) for Social Security and Medicare benefits. Currently, the COLA is based upon the spending patterns of young, urban workers, but this legislation would calculate the COLA based on the spending patterns of seniors.

TSCL strongly believes the Social Security COLA that seniors currently receive does not accurately reflect how they must spend their money. We estimate that a senior who retired with average benefits in 1984 would have received $13,723.16 more through 2011 had the CPI-E been used. TSCL is very supportive of the CPI-E Act, and we were pleased to see support grow for it this week.

Negotiations Continue among Conferees

The House-Senate Conference Committee met multiple times this week for public negotiations, but little progress seems to have been made. The group of twenty must come to an agreement before the end of the month in order to: continue unemployment payments, block a Medicare doctor payment cut, and extend the Social Security payroll tax cut.

Agreeing on methods of payment has proven to be the most difficult task. One conferee, Sen. Jon Kyl (AZ) stated this week: “The way our Democratic colleagues have been approaching offsets, there’s just not much of anything that they seem willing to agree to, so I’m pretty pessimistic that we can get that done.”

Many believe that the public stage has politicized the debate and is preventing the group from reaching a breakthrough. With only one week to go before the Presidents Day recess, the next meetings will likely move behind closed doors.