Legislative Update for Week Ending January 22, 2016

Legislative Update for Week Ending January 22, 2016

This week, the Supreme Court decided it will rule on the immigration executive orders that President Obama announced in November 2014, and the Congressional Budget Office released its updated budget projections.

Supreme Court to Rule On Immigration Orders

In November 2014 – over a year ago – President Obama issued a set of executive orders that would delay the deportation of nearly 5 million undocumented immigrants if fully implemented. The orders have not yet taken effect, and for the past year, the package has faced legal challenges from twenty-six states. On Tuesday, the Supreme Court announced that it will consider one of those cases – United States v. Texas, 15-674 – in the months ahead.

Upon hearing the announcement, Attorney General Ken Paxton of Texas released a statement that read: “The court should affirm what President Obama said himself on more than 20 occasions: that he cannot unilaterally rewrite congressional laws and circumvent the people’s representatives.” He said the Supreme Court’s decision to hear the case shows it “recognizes the importance of the separation of powers.”

Meanwhile, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said President Obama was “clearly consistent with the precedent” established by past presidents. He said, “We’ve got a lot of confidence in the legal arguments we’ll be making before the court.”

The Supreme Court will begin hearing arguments in April, which should set the stage for a June ruling. The Senior Citizens League (TSCL) will be keeping a close eye on the movement of President Obama’s immigration orders in the coming months, since they could significantly impact the Social Security and Medicare programs if implemented. We will post updates here in the Legislative News section of our website, on Twitter, or on our Facebook page.

CBO Releases Latest Budget Projections

This week, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) announced that deficits are expected to grow in 2016 for the first time in six years. Last year, the deficit was the lowest it had been since 2007, at $439 billion. In Tuesday’s report, the CBO projected that it will grow to $544 billion by September 30th, the end of the fiscal year.

Analysts did not expect the increase to occur until after 2018, and they are attributing its early arrival to the massive budget agreement that was reached in the fall. That package included a two-year rollback of the sequester and it made permanent several tax credits that were meant to be temporary and were subject to annual renewals.

An aging population is also driving the rising deficit, according to the report’s authors. Within ten years, the percentage of people who are sixty-five or older will rise by 37 percent, and “almost half of the projected $2.5 trillion increase in total outlays from 2016 to 2026 is for Social Security and Medicare,” they wrote.

TSCL is hopeful that the findings in this week’s report will serve as a reminder to leaders in Congress that responsible reforms to Social Security and Medicare should be made as soon as possible. Doing so will allow them to be phased in gradually and with minimal impact on beneficiaries.

We support legislation like the Social Security 2100 Act (S. 1904 and H.R. 1391), which would strengthen benefits and the program’s finances responsibly by increasing the payroll tax cap for the wealthiest Americans and increasing the payroll tax rate modestly over a period of several years.

In the months ahead, we will continue to advocate for the Social Security 2100 Act and other the other policy priorities laid out by our members and supporters in recent polls and surveys. To add your voice, participate in our 2016 Senior Survey right here.