Action Alert # 90 – Making Our Way in the New Order

Take a deep breath and start in again.

  • As always, communicate with your Congressional Representative and your Senators.
  • Learn more and refine your story to share with family and friends, especially those who might be in other districts or states.
  • Keep abreast of changes and be ready to respond to our Action Alerts.

Changes in Washington.

With the change in the balance of power in Washington, we need to be looking at our campaign for Social Security Fairness in a bit of a different light and assessing where we are.  Although there has been, in the past, substantial bi-partisan support for the repeal of the GPO and WEP in the House, the Senate often has been less responsive to our needs. In addition, our incoming President probably does not know about the Social Security offsets and is even less likely to understand the complexities of their implementation.

Since both houses of government, as well as the Presidency, are in Republican control, which was also the case from 2003 to 2007, we need to look at refining the way we make our claims for change in a way that fits with the Republican point of view—a technical rather than a “fairness” vision:  “these are faulty laws that have been poorly implemented and which our government needs to fix.” 

Kevin Brady, who became the powerful Chairman of the House Committee on Ways and Means when Paul Ryan became Speaker of the House, has been trying to change for many years what he sees as the flawed formula of the WEP.  His bill, H.R. 711, which he proposed during the last Congress (2015-16), did not eliminate the idea of the WEP, but used a different method which looks at a person’s non-Social Security covered income in addition to the Social Security earnings to calculate what he said was a more fair way of paying out retirement benefits. He has not given up on the idea of changing the WEP, as you can see from the statement of purpose that was sent to the public from the Ways and Means committee this week:

In 2017, our Social Security Subcommittee will focus on advancing solutions to make this vital program work better for seniors and individuals with disabilities today and in the future. For example, our teachers, firefighters, and police officers are not always treated equally when it comes to Social Security due to a flawed policy known as the Windfall Elimination Provision. The lead Democrat on our Committee, Rep. Richard Neal, and I have been working together on a solution to this problem and we will continue that effort this year.

This week the Republicans announced the names of their members of the Social Security Sub-committee of Ways and Means:

Chairman Sam Johnson (TX) Tom Rice (SC) David Schweikert (AZ) Vern Buchanan (FL) Mike Kelly (PA) Jim Renacci (OH) Jackie Walorski (IN)

The Democratic members of this sub-committee have not yet been announced, but the ranking member, Xavier Becerra, was just named to a CA state position, and will be leaving the House of Representatives.  Stay turned to find out whom to lean on next.

Re-thinking the Government Pension Offset.

  • This provision was designed to cut the total retirement income (pension plus SS) for those affected by as much as 40%.
  • It has resulted in a total loss of Social Security benefits for approximately half a million retired women.
  • This provision is a major deterrent to the recruiting of teachers for the 1/3 of U.S. teaching positions affected.  The U.S. teacher shortage is an emergency.

There are many causes to defend that affect seniors in Washington, D.C., this year.  We hope that you will stay with us as we refine our pointed Action Alerts.