Legislative Update for Week Ending September 28, 2012

Legislative Update for Week Ending September 28, 2012

Members of Congress adjourned for a pre-election recess on Monday. Meanwhile, the National Research Council, a private, non-profit organization, released a congressionally mandated report on the aging population this week, and deficit reduction talks continued among a group of eight Senators.

Congress Adjourns for Election Preparation

On Monday, lawmakers returned to their home states and districts for the pre-election recess. They are not expected to return to Capitol Hill until Tuesday, November 13th.  The Senior Citizens League (TSCL) would like to remind you that many Members of Congress will attend local events or hold town hall meetings in the upcoming weeks. We encourage you to approach them and request their support for fair cost-of-living adjustments and other key issues. To find contact information for your Members of Congress, visit the ACTION CENTER of our website.

Report Advises Immediate Action on Social Security, Medicare

On Tuesday, the National Research Council released a congressionally mandated report on the economic impact of our aging population. The report’s authors did not make specific policy recommendations, but they did suggest that “major structural changes” to both Social Security and Medicare will be necessary in the near future in order to address the aging of the baby boom generation.

According to Congressional Quarterly, the authors laid out four basic paths forward. First, workers will have to save more for their retirements; second, workers will have to pay more in taxes; third, benefits will need to be reduced; or fourth, Americans will have to retire later. “Our options are few: We must consume less, work more, or both,” the report stated.

TSCL agrees that both Social Security and Medicare are facing serious financial challenges and we acknowledge the fact that some small changes to the programs may be necessary. However, we firmly believe that any adjustments should be phased in gradually, and that current enrollees and those nearing retirement should be protected from sudden changes. We hope that Congress will fully consider the negative impact that harsh benefit cuts would have, and we will continue to remind them of this in the coming months as discussions to reduce the deficit become more serious.

Deficit Talks Continue among “Gang of Eight”

A bipartisan group of eight Senators continued negotiations this week on a comprehensive deficit reduction plan. The “Gang of Eight” hopes to form a $4 trillion package by the end of this year in order to address the so-called “fiscal cliff” that is scheduled to hit in January. According to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (NV), the group is currently developing a number of scenarios and potential plans, but which route they take will not be determined until after the November 6th election.

Reid hinted that if the election grants one political party control of both chambers and the Presidency, negotiations on a plan will likely be postponed until the 113th Congress begins in January. However, if the election leaves the current balance of power intact, the likelihood is great that Members of Congress will compromise on a plan during the lame-duck session. Either way, TSCL will continue to keep a close eye on the evolving deficit reduction negotiations. We will post updates weekly here in the Legislative News section of our website.