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
- Creating Manufacturing jobs in the NY 23rd–RAMI (Revitalizing American Manufacturing and Innovation) Act
- Meaningful Tax Reform
- NewYork’s Energy Policy
Social Security Disability Insurance–Rep. Reed has been placed on the Ways and Means 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 Policy 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.