Rep. Reed’s 2015 Agenda

The Hornell Evening News, in their December 10 issue, had an article about Rep. Tom Reed’s 2015 “Agenda”—what he wants to focus his efforts on to benefit his constituents in the NY 23rd. His four items on his agenda are:

Social Security Disability Insurance–Rep. Reed has been placed on the Ways and SocialSecurityMeans Social Security subcommittee.  Reed has been warning us of the fiscal woes of  Social Security, and especially Social Security Disability Insurance, at probably every Town Hall meeting he has ever had.  He hands out a packet with charts and graphs while he is forewarning us that Social Security Disability Insurance will be insolvent in 2016. By “insolvent” he really means that SSDI will have 81% of the funding it would need to keep up the predicted funding levels.

According to Rep. Reed, there are currently more than 30,000 NY23rd constituents who have been “deemed unable to work based on a medical condition that has lasted for more than a year, or, is expected to result in death”. Thus they are receiving Social Security Disability Insurance.

Rep. Reed, of course blames President Obama and Secretary of the Treasury, Jack Lew for the upcoming SSDI demise. He said that administration’s decision to “wait until the last minute” to deal with SSDI was “a complete failure of leadership.” He fails to hold the Ways and Means Sub-Committee on Social Security accountable for failing to do their job to propose changes. Does he use the same criteria when the House Leadership creates last minute budget, debt ceiling, or government shutdown dramas?

Reed uses GOPese when describing the Executive Branches’ plan to keep SSDI operating at the needed level as a plan to “steal” from the retirement portion of Social Security to cover the Disability Funds. In July the Washington Examiner  reported that, “while the Obama administration intends to pursue reforms to save money on the disability program in the long term, an immediate change is needed to prevent the trust fund from running out and imposing steep cuts on recipients in 2016. Congressional Democrats have introduced legislation to divert payroll taxes to the disability trust fund.” A far cry from waiting until the last minute.

Naysayers would call diverting funds as “stealing” funds from one account to another. In reality the people qualified to receive SSDI have paid money into the Social Security System and are receiving their funding early. They will receive the same amount monthly when they qualify for the regular Social Security Insurance; it will be coming from a different Social Security account.

Reed also complained about the fraud and abuse associated with SSDI. While we agree with Rep. Reed that we should reduce the fraud and abuse, we take solace when The Hill researched the government data and concluded that “Social Security disability fraud is rare.”

Social Security Insurance and Social Security Disability Insurance is so very important to many Americans. I would hope that Rep. Reed and the rest of the Social Security sub-committee  will be objective, and look at the facts from a nonpartisan point of view. Congress’ recent history of cutting the Safety Net has bruised the American family enough.

Other parts of Reed’s agenda might not be so controversial—

The Act the Rep. Kennedy (D-MA) and Rep. Reed sponsored, Revitalizing American Manufacturing and Innovation Act (RAMI), has been signed by President Obama. The Act had died in the Senate, but political miracles do happen. It was silently attached to the recently passed budget and became law when President Obama signed it.  Reed’s goal is to launch RAMI and guide it to have a positive impact on manufacturing and new job growth.

Meaningful Tax Reform? See the New NY 23rd’s article “Tom Reed on taxes” 

New York’s Energy Policy. It is easy to understand why is New York State’s Energy ny-solar-energyPolicy is on Rep. Reed’s top four agenda items. The puzzling part- Why does Rep. Reed feel that  the New York State Government would take his opinions into consideration as it develops its Energy Policy?

For example, Rep. Reed has been a proponent of the an “all-of-the-above” comprehensive energy policy, which, of course includes natural gas as well as renewable energy. He has been promoting the natural gas section of the “all-of-the-above” policy. He has received more funding from the Oil/Gas Industry in 2014 than all of the other New York Representatives combined. This year (2014), New York State  has invested a $1 Billion in “NY—Sun”, an initiative to expand the use of Solar  Energy in NYS, and develop local Solar Industries.” And New York has banned fracking. It looks like New York State and Rep. Reed have different energy priorities.

It is important to understand the issues Rep. Reed feel are important for the next congressional session. We will be hearing more about them throughout the year. We need to know both sides of the debate, not just what he wants us to know. These are very important items. Reed has said that it is important for him to hear what is on his constituents’ minds. A possible New Year’s Resolution would be to communicate more with our congressman. I don’t think it would hurt.


About pystew

Retired Teacher, political science geek, village trustee. I lean a little left, but like a good political discussion. My blog, the New NY 23rd (http://newny23rd) is about discussing the issues facing the people of our new congressional district. Let's hear all sides of the issues, not just what the candidates want us to hear.
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17 Responses to Rep. Reed’s 2015 Agenda

  1. Anne says:

    Unfortunately, Reed is tone deaf when it comes to hearing anything that doesn’t agree with a position he already holds. But we can live in hope! Happy New Year’s to you, Rich.


  2. whungerford says:

    “Reed’s goal is to launch RAMI and guide it to have a positive impact on manufacturing and new job growth.” Really, one wonders? RAMI projects were long ago launched by the Obama Administration. It isn’t clear what responsibility Reed has for current and future projects if any. In any case RAMI is a peanut whistle when compared to a badly needed long-term transportation bill.


  3. Deb meeker says:

    Nice piece, thanks. Tom Reed has become irrelevant in so many ways and means..he has become the whiner-in-chief for all those opposed to the President’s popular agenda, and for those who firmly believe in state’s rights – until they don’t.
    It surprises me that Reed’s proponents haven’t been clamoring for his promised answers about Benghazi, the IRS “scandal”, and his non-existent “fighting” to repeal the SAFE Act and “Obamacare”.
    He’s now ensconced for another two years; his 2015 agenda is much the same as it was over four years ago: make empty promises, scare senior citizens and the disabled, take lots of photo ops, give lip service to veterans, take full advantage of Congressional perks, and primarily, fail.


  4. whungerford says:

    According to the Evening Tribune article, Tom would address SSDI funding by reducing fraud and abuse, easier said than done, and tightening eligibility rules. Tightening eligibility rules to save money would impose hardship on many–not a responsible proposal. Tom invariably wants to scale back programs to match the budget rather than responsibly budget to meet the need.


  5. Deb Meeker says:

    Blood from a stone?

    “Both our allowance and denial determinations are very accurate. By statute, SSA reviews 50% of the allowances before the decisions are effectuated, and the DDS [Disability Determination Services] “PER” (pre-effectuation review) error rate has been under 3% for the past 5 years. SSA also performs a quality review sample of both allowances and denials, and the DDS net accuracy rate has been 97% or better over the last 3 years. [House Committee on Ways and Means Testimony, 3/20/13]”

    Liked by 1 person

  6. josephurban says:

    Insolvent ? Well, the department of Defense is INSOLVENT every year. Until Congress appropriates funds to keep the Department funded. Why is SS considered “insolvent” when it will still have over 80% of it’s funding? Just another word game.


  7. whungerford says:

    Social Security is supposed to be fully funded by payroll taxes. If it comes up short, some say retirees must take the hit (that’s what they wanted anyway), others, including me, say the treasury should make up the difference–it is an obligation of our government. Who knows which view will prevail? Better that Congress should adequately fund social security one way or another.


  8. pystew says:

    Fraud and Abuse? The article sites The Hill as saying that ” “Social Security disability fraud is rare”. Social Security accepts only 1/3 of SSDI applicants. Lawyers, who advertise that they’ll take appeal cases with no cost to their client unless they win the appeal. The denied clients would be a fool NOT to try. Some judges approve the appeals at a 80% to 94% rate. I wonder if Reed would attack fellow attorneys.


  9. pystew says:

    The President’s plan, which Reed quickly dismisses, does adequately funds SSDI. Reed and friends is portraying its the retirees vs the disabled. The disabled has to be part of the social security system; they worked enough quarters and contributed into the funding pool to qualify. Statistics say that those receiving disability insurance live five years–if that is the case they wouldn’t use much of their retirement social security benefits.


  10. whungerford says:

    Tom’s every pronouncement on SS suggests that he is hostile to the concept and would prefer that SS and SSDI wither and die. He promotes fear using words like bankrupt and suggests that the only cure for perceived underfunding is to cut benefits. His proposal to tighten eligibility for SSDI is tantamount to a cut in benefits to the disabled.

    I have never known Tom to explain how his constituents are to get by with reduced benefits. He must assume that people will somehow work harder and save more to make up for the loss. This is a dubious assumption.


  11. Anne says:

    I’m sure it’s just a step toward getting the whole system privatized, which is what the R’s seem to be after, anyway.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. josephurban says:

    Social Security is not a difficult fix. 1. The SS tax should be paid on ALL wages and bonuses. Currently the extremely wealthy pay a much lower percent of their earnings to SS than the McDonald’s employee. 2. Means test benefits. SS was intended to be a program to keep the working poor and middle class from ending their lives in poverty. It was never intended to be a private savings account for millionaires. Only those who need it should get it. You could have a sliding scale of benefits determined by income and investments. SS is not hard to fix.


  13. whungerford says:

    Social Security was carefully crafted to overcome Republican opposition; that’s why contributions are capped and benefits are tied to lifetime earnings.


  14. whungerford says:

    Tom Reed’s Jan 5, 2015 Press Release; Reed pits retirees against the disabled:

    Congressman Tom Reed announced today that he is joining Rep. Sam Johnson (R-TX) as a co-sponsor of an amendment to proposed House rules for the 114th Congress. The amendment would protect the Social Security Trust Fund from being raided in order to bail out the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) Trust Fund. If no solution is agreed to, SSDI is projected by its trustees to go bankrupt in 2016. “That is unacceptable,” Reed said. “Anyone who cares about finding a fair solution for both the catastrophically disabled who depend on SSDI and senior citizens who depend on Social Security knows that we must find a long-term solution which protects both of them rather than a short term band aid which threatens them both.”

    “I raised this issue nearly a year ago when Treasury Secretary Jack Lew was in front of the Ways and Means Committee,” Reed explained. “The Obama Administration has no solution except to take funds from Social Security itself. Social Security retirement funds have been raided far too many times for far too many years. My intention by doing this is to force us to look for a long term solution for SSDI rather than raiding Social Security to bail out a failing federal program. Retired taxpayers who have paid into the system for years deserve no less.”


  15. pystew says:

    Rep. Sam Johnson is the Chair of the House subcommittee on Social Security. If this was really important to Chair Johnson and Reed, they would have done something last year. The GOP has planned this “conflict”, and will come out smelling like roses. They are hiding the fact that their “budget” is reducing all social security funding. US News and World Report (

    Reed fails to inform the readers that the disabled also paid into Social Security, and worked the required amount of time to get their benefits.


  16. pystew says:

    What is his definition of catastrophically disabled? Is it a disability that you can see? Do they need a wheel chair or have to be missing a limb to qualify? Why isn’t he attacking the attorneys who have made careers by analyzing every disability trick to milk the SSDI system?


  17. josephurban says:

    You are all wrong. I read all of Mr Reed’s campaign literature. His one and only goal is to save Social Security ! He promised !


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