TSCL Heads to Hill Fighting Social Security Cuts With 692,164 Signatures
As the 12-member Congressional “Super Committee” readies a plan for release by Thanksgiving to cut the federal deficit by at least $1.2 trillion, The Senior Citizens League (TSCL) headed to Capitol Hill. The legislative staff made personal visits to nearly every Member of the U.S. House, delivering petitions with a total of 692,164 signatures from TSCL supporters in every state (except Hawaii and Washington DC).
The same day that the Social Security Administration announced that seniors would get a 3.6% cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) in 2012 — the first in two years —TSCL delivered petitions opposing cuts to Social Security, and demanding COLAs be calculated using a senior consumer price index. In addition, TSCL delivered petitions protesting any illegal immigration amnesty that would allow Social Security benefits to be paid based on work performed while in the U.S. illegally. Additionally, petitions calling for passage of The Notch Fairness Act for seniors born from 1917 through 1926 who were adversely impacted by changes made to the Social Security benefit formula in the late 1970’s were delivered to nearly every office of the House of Representatives.
Although the Super Committee has been meeting in mostly closed-door sessions and little is known about their plan, policy experts believe they are likely to sign off on proposals that have already been considered, due to their November 23rd deadline. TSCL is highly concerned that would mean COLA reductions, as well as higher Medicare costs, may form the basis of their deficit reduction plan.
A change to a more slowly growing “chained” consumer price index (CPI), which is used to calculate the annual COLA boost, was given serious consideration in the closed-door debt limit meetings by Congressional leaders and President Obama earlier this summer. Switching to the chained COLA was proposed by two prominent deficit reduction commissions and has received support from both Republicans and Democrats.
The chained CPI is calculated much differently than the Consumer Price Index for Workers (CPI-W), the CPI that’s currently used to calculate the COLA, and would have a significant effect on reducing the total amount of lifetime Social Security benefits that people receive. Although the average difference between the two that’s frequently cited by policy makers is 0.3 tenths of a percentage point, that hasn’t always been the case. In the years in which inflation, as measured by the CPI-W, has been the highest, the chained CPI has been the weakest. If the government were to use the initial chained CPI data to calculate COLAs for 2012, seniors would get just 2.7% instead of 3.6%. That would be like cutting the 2012 COLA by one-third.
TSCL is fighting the plan to chain COLAs and believes seniors need an annual boost that more adequately protects the buying power of their Social Security benefits. “Members of Congress are more likely to re-think voting for legislation when they see a large number of seniors are adamantly opposed to cutting COLAs,” says TSCL Chairman Larry Hyland. What you can do: Your petitions are helping TSCL fight plans to reduce the growth in your Social Security benefits. Please add your name! Sign TSCL’s Social Security Fairness Petition