We don’t hear about Social Security very much in the chatter of presidential primary campaigning. Especially not from the Republicans. That is going to change as the campaigns move to the general election phase after the July National Conventions. Social Security will be an important issue in the congressional races and nowhere greater than the NY 23rd.
It was just a bit more than a year ago Rep. Reed stunned the economic and political worlds by authoring a House of Representation rule change that doomed the Social Security Disability Fund. He was quoted in national newspapers, was interviewed by multiple radio news organizations, and scared millions of senior citizens (and near seniors citizens) and the disabled community. He told the Olean Times that he is proposing a separate program for the non-catastrophically disabled “so they aren’t drawing away from Social Security Disability.”
Reed promoted his rule change at Town Hall Meetings and declared that the disabled are raiding the retirees. He accused the President for not having a plan to save the Disability Fund. The Fund was going to insolvent (not able to fully pay the Disability benefits that working Americans earned) in August, 2016.
Then things changed.
A new bipartisan spending deal was announced at the end of October which included the President’s Social Security Plan (the one that Reed claimed didn’t exist) that changed the way Social Security funds were distributed that keeps both the Disability and Retirement Fund solvent util 2022. Rep Reed praised the President’s plan (without mentioning the Persian) when he said, “I think the reforms we’re going to get on the Social Security Disability Trust fund are significant. They are going to allow us to implement some changes that will lead to the long-term solvency of the trust fund.”
Now that we have removed the hurdle that would have the Disability Fund insolvent, Congress needs to tweak the system to strengthen it. There have been numerous suggestions made, but Congress really needs to get to work exploring them. (For some of the plans to strengthen Social Security go to an earlier New NY23rd article, Removing the Payroll Tax Cap and other Social Security Proposals).
The following are three proposed Bills, and a House Resolution that were introduced in the House of Representatives in 2015 that would strengthen Social Security. The all have 1) Were not co-sponsored by Rep. Tom Reed 2) Sent to the House Ways and Means Committee (which Tom Reed is a member) on the day it was introduced and 3) has never made it out of the committees to be voted on. Please realize that all the committees are Chaired by Republicans.
H.R. 1391 the Social Security 2100 Act–Introduced 3/17/15. Sent to committees—including House Ways and Means. 75 co-sponsors—not Rep. Reed. Summary link: https://www.congress.gov/bill/114th-congress/house-bill/1391
H.R. 1811, The Protecting and Preserving Social Security Act, introduced 4/15/15—Sent to (House Education and the Workforce AND House Ways and Means) Had 11 Co-Sponsors (not Rep. Reed). Summary link: https://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/114/hr1811/summary
H.R. 3150, the One Social Security Act. Introduced July 22, 2015. It had 90 co-sponsors.(not Rep. Reed). Sent to the House Ways and Means Committee. Summary link: https://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/114/hr3150/summar
H.Res. 393 Expressing support for policies to protect and expand Social Security and secure its long-term future in a fair and responsible manner. Introduced July 29, 2015. 107 co-sponsors (not Rep. Reed). Link to its text: https://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/114/hres393/text/ih
If Rep. Reed really supports Social Security you would think that he would work to get these proposals discussed on the House floor.
Secretary of the Treasury Jack Lew told Rep. Reed at a House Ways and Means Committee Hearing, “Long term policies take a long time to have an effect” and that looks “we (Obama Administration) look forward to work together and look at long term issues.” I take that to mean that the earlier they start looking at Social Security issues the better. A tweak in 2016 will have a greater affect than the same tweak in 2020. Our goal should be a long-term solution instead of the usual dead line crisis.
We need to hold our representatives responsible to start discussing ways to strengthen Social Security. This needs to be brought up at every Town Hall Meeting. This needs to be a part of the 2016 House Campaign discussion.