Mandatory Soc. Sec. Still Looms

MAY 1999 - Association Talks With Federal And State Officials - Uncertain
is one way to describe the current status of mandatory Social Security
in the Congress. With that in mind, the Association, and the Mass
Coalition to Preserve Retirement Security (to which we belong), have
been working hard to insure that those representatives against
mandatory coverage stand firm while persuading the uncommitted to come
out in opposition.

To that end, the
Association has reached out to both sides of the aisle - Republican and
Democrat - and at the state and federal levels. “You can’t leave
anything to chance on this issue,” states Association President Ralph
White. “We don’t want to look back and regret not touching all the
bases.”

Democrats And Republicans Alike Oppose Mandate

Recently,
President White and other Association officials met with US
Representative Michael Capuano in his Cambridge district office. “Even
before he went to Congress, Rep. Capuano has been there for public
retirees, and on mandatory coverage, he is still in our corner,”
according to White. “We’ve never doubted his commitment but felt the
meeting was important to let him know that we’re there for him.”

Obviously,
since the Congress is controlled by the Republicans, the Association
must do what it can to reach out to them. For example, Congressman John
Kasich (R-Ohio), who is chairman of the powerful House Budget
Committee, was the guest of this state’s Republican House Political
Action Committee.

This event
provided the Association’s Shawn Duhamel with an excellent opportunity
to discuss with the influential congressman his position on mandatory
Social Security. “These opportunities don’t present themselves often,
so we were determined to take advantage,” states Duhamel.

When
Duhamel raised the issue, Congressman Kasich was most direct in his
response. “Well-funded systems, like that in the Commonwealth, should
not be disrupted but left alone by the federal government. I am not in
favor of mandatory coverage.”

Complimenting
our work with Republicans at the federal level, we had been assisting
Governor Cellucci’s staff on the issue. Before attending a Governors
Conference in February, Association representatives provided briefing
papers, outlining mandatory Social Security’s impact on the state’s
economy.

In addition to ourselves,
other Coalition members approached Governor Cellucci earlier this year.
“Just before he left for the (Governors) Conference, I had a chance to
speak with Governor Cellucci personally,” reports Coalition member Fred
McCray, president of the Mass Association of Contributory Retirement
Systems (MACRS). “I emphasized to the Governor MACRS’s opposition and
the urgent need to defeat mandatory Social Security.”

Apparently,
this work, and the efforts of other Coalition members, paid off. During
the Conference, Governor Cellucci and many influential governors,
including Texas’ George W. Bush and Michigan’s John Engler, sent a
joint letter to President Clinton, opposing mandatory Social Security.

Other Coalition Work

As
for the Coalition, their efforts are ongoing in Washington, D.C., as
well as at the State House. Congressional hearings on Social Security
are expected to be scheduled shortly, and Coalition representatives
will be there to testify. At press, the only representative on the
Mass. delegation which remains uncommitted is Representative Edward
Markey.

In the meantime, Coalition
members have been meeting with congressional staff to lay the
groundwork. At the State House, the Coalition has been working with
House Minority Whip Brad Jones (R-North Reading) to prepare and issue a
resolution that would be sent to the Congress, setting forth the
Legislature’s opposition to mandatory Social Security.

Tom
Lussier, a key member of the Coalition, will be giving a major address
to members of our 106 retirement boards at the MACRS Spring conference
in Hyannis this June. Lussier, director of the Teachers’ Retirement
Board has been a leading spokesman against mandatory coverage and for
the current public pension system.

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