Last week I held five town hall meetings covering issues related to property rights and ISIS. I always look forward to hearing from the people of the Southern Tier and Finger Lakes. Know I am taking your thoughts and suggestions back to Washington. On such important issues as terrorism and national security, it is vital to hear from you.–Rep. Tom Reed
This report was written by Cath Kestler, a resident of Silver Creek in NY-23, and is shared here with permission.
There’s been a sighting of Tom Reed in Chautauqua County, in February, no less; this occurrence is about as rare as the groundhog we see once a year. We saw his shadow looming large against a snowy, grey day in a Town Hall meeting where we were greeted by two armed plain-clothed sheriff officers.
One of the first questions asked was regarding the long term changes Reed is seeking for SSDI, because according to Reed, reallocation (a common practice that has been done since the inception of the SSDI program) isn’t an option he will back. He says it needs Congress’ approval and they will not approve it.
According to Reed’s pie chart he is tying Social Security to the deficit and the federal debt. By law, it is prohibited to be counted as part of the federal budget. Therefore, Social Security and its Disability Insurance Trust Fund do not contribute a single cent towards the federal debt. [Federal law clearly states that Social Security “shall not be counted…for the purpose of-(1) the budget of the United States Government as submitted by the President (or) (2) the congressional budget…” Pub. L. 101-508, title XIII, Sec. 13301(a), Nov. 5, 1990, 104 Stat. 1388-623]. So, Reed’s pie chart is smoke and mirrors. In fact, it is a lie.
Reed raised the question: ‘What is disability?’ He was dumbfounded to know we knew the answer. Social Security pays benefits averaging more than $16,000 a year to more than 9.6 million veterans—about four in ten veterans. Nearly 5,000 children who lost one or both parents in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars are now receiving survivor’s benefits and many more of the children of the roughly 777,000 wounded service men and service women are receiving disability dependents benefits.
Reed believes in retraining those that are collecting SSDI. I have nothing against retraining when it can be done, but the last I looked Reed, by trade is a lawyer in the medical debt collection business. Just because you collect medical debt doesn’t give you the credo to assume that you know what is best for the disabled; when did he have the time to become a MD? A spin doctor, yes, a medical doctor, no, no, no.
His blasé attitude presented to the crowd; definitely wasn’t invited. As questions were raised, Reed showed a proclivity to throw those same questions back at us to answer. Transparency was thrown out the door. At one point he was asked to stop using political rhetoric and posturing and answer more precise and with facts; he took this to a whole other level and proceeded being extremely facetious towards the audience.
During one volley of questions regarding SSDI he brought up the selling of bonds to secure SSDI, this tactic is taken from the page of the Libertarian book of privatizing Social Security. Once that dirty word “privatization” was whispered, quick as a crack of the whip, we were shut down from further posing any more questions regarding this matter.
Look, Congress hasn’t been able to come up with a 5-year funding plan to restore the Highway Trust Fund since 2008 when it ran out of money and our infrastructure began crumbling; what makes you think Congress can restore sustainable funding for the SSDI Trust Fund before it supposedly runs out in 2016? Reed is trying to undermine the confidence in a government program and pit the elderly against the disabled. SSDI is run under the Social Security Trust, it is ONE fund and it is a payroll deduction you have made and are entitled to; don’t believe the rhetoric Reed’s camp is spewing. He is pandering to his base, no questions about it.
We touched briefly on his proposed law that would force state governments to pay for potential money homeowners would think they could receive before the fracking ban in NYS. We asked who would be responsible for the payments to the aforementioned homeowners for those claims; he proudly answered; the taxpayers. Now, I understand why he needs those armed bodyguards at taxpayer’s expense!
A lot of questions were left unanswered and as usual, we’ll probably have to wait another couple of years for the answers. Reed needs to remember just who he works for—it’s not his big donors, it’s you and me, the taxpayers that foot ALL the bills.
In case you are interested the Town of Ellery is fighting an expansion of the Chautauqua County Landfill. There is a public hearing to receive comments on March 4, 2015 at the Jamestown Airport, 3163 Airport Drive, Jamestown, NY 14701 at 6pm. Bodies are needed to be present to support the Town of Ellery. It has been suspected that the reason for the expansion is that 30% of the industrial waste being dumped there is fracking waste from Pennsylvania. If it’s so safe, why don’t they keep it in their own backyard!?!
12:30 PM Febuary 21, 2015
Portland Town Hall
87 W. Main Street, Brocton, NY