October 12, 2013

PA Congressmen Kelly and Thompson Sign Letter Urging Social Security Cuts

Each added their names to a letter from Congressman Ribble (R-WI) urging Speaker Boehner to use the Shutdown and Debt Ceiling deadlines to demand harmful cuts to seniors’ benefits

On Tuesday, October 8th, Congressman Reid Ribble, a Republican representing the 8th District in Wisconsin, sent a letter to House Speaker John Boehner on the subject of Social Security.  Rep. Ribble and the 50 co-signers of the letter urge the speaker to “use this window” of “financial deadlines” to enact Social Security changes.  Rep. Ribble appends a cover letter to his original letter that lists several options, including:

  1. Raising the Retirement Age
  2. Changing the COLA Formula (likely a reference to the Chained-CPI benefit cut)
  3. Means-testing benefits
  4. Change the FICA wages cap (which determines how much income is subject to FICA tax) to Reagan-era levels

Three of these options would be massive benefit cuts to our nation’s seniors (#2 affecting seniors already in the program).  Only the last item, a half-measure at best, would raise any revenue for the program.  Taken all together, this proposal is 70% cuts and only 30% revenue.  Two Members of Pennsylvania’s Congressional Delegation signed on to this letter – Congressman Mike Kelly of Butler County and Congressman Glenn Thompson of Centre County.

“It’s unconscionable that 51 members of the House of Representatives would suggest using the current manufactured crises to push through harmful Social Security cuts,” said Wayne Burton, the newly-elected President of the PA Alliance for Retired Americans.  “Raising the retirement age means thousands of dollars lost for future retirees. The Chained-CPI COLA formula is a heartless cut to current and future beneficiaries that will guarantee that benefits don’t keep up with the cost of living.  And Social Security is already means-tested by the current benefit formula and by the taxes that wealthier seniors pay on their benefits.  It’s nice to see a modest revenue increase included as well, but even that doesn’t go far enough.  The worst part about this plan is that Social Security doesn’t add to the Federal Deficit, because its income and payments are separate from the general government.  But these politicians would still ask seniors to sacrifice to solve the problems created on Wall Street.  It’s just not fair.”

“Pennsylvania seniors deserve better representation than this,” added Judy Jobes of Erie; a PARA Board Member and constituent of Congressman Kelly.  “Congressman Kelly and Congressman Thompson may claim that Social Security needs these cuts to survive, but the facts don’t support their claim.  It’s no wonder that Kelly and Thompson, respectively, have a 0% and 5% pro-retiree lifetime rating with the Alliance.  Instead of this letter, they should sign on to HR 3118 which would remove the cap on earnings subjected to FICA taxes and enact a COLA change called the CPI-E which would make the formula better for retirees; all the while shoring up Social Security’s finances for the forseeable future.”

The Pennsylvania Alliance for Retired Americans, led by President Wayne Burton of Chester County, has over 300,000 members and 149 local affiliates across the Commonwealth.  PARA’s mission is to educate seniors and the public about retiree issues, and organize seniors to advocate for their interests in Harrisburg and Washington.  To learn more, visit www.pennretiredamericans.org.

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