New Social Security Chairman Announced

MARCH 2005
- MA Congressman Neal Also To Serve On Subcommittee - With the start of the 109th (2005-2006) congressional session, a new
important face has emerged in the Social Security debate and our fight
to repeal the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) and Government
Pension Offset (GPO) laws. He is Jim McCrery - a Louisiana congressman
since 1988 who is now the chairman of the powerful Social Security
Subcommittee. Editor's Note: Louisiana is one of the seven states,
including Massachusetts, whose public employees are not covered by
Social Security.

Moreover, we now have a
strong voice on that subcommittee with the appointment of our
Congressman Richard Neal, who has represented parts of central and
western Mass. since 1988. Neal will be sitting on the subcommitee as a
senior member, albeit from the minority (Democratic) party.

McCrery
replaces Clay Shaw, the Ft. Lauderdale, Florida representative whose
name our members had come to associate with the Social Security
Subcommittee and our work to repeal the WEP and GPO. While the House
rules prohibited him from serving more than 6 years as chairman, Shaw
maintains a prominent position on the subcommittee as its most senior
Republican member.

"Congressman Shaw
intends to remain active regarding Social Security," reports
Association Legislative Chairman Bill Hill. "While he is no longer the
chairman, he is a member of the Republican leadership and, therefore,
can exert considerable influence.

"Also,
let's not forget that 18 of Florida's 25 representative are
Republicans, and the majority party controls the flow of legislation
within the Congress. There's little question that our Florida members
will continue to play a pivotal role throughout this session of
Congress."

History Repeats Itself

Members
remember that during his first year in office, President Bush had
established a special Commission to strengthen Social Security. Among
its recommendations, this commission outlined 3 options for personal
investment accounts as part of the Social Security program, including
one that would allow an employee to deposit over one-half of his Social
Security payroll tax, up to $1,000, into a personal investment account.

"Now
some four years later, history is apparently repeating itself,"
comments Hill. "Once again, there are claims of a bankrupt Social
Security in the future and calls for personal investment accounts."

Recently President Bush has cited his special commission for having recommendations that he generally supports.

Among
them is the option which we discussed earlier, namely allowing personal
accounts. Another is adjusting the calculation of one's Social Security
benefits based on inflation rates and not increases in wages - a
proposal which would reduce benefits for future retirees. (To avoid any
confusion, this proposal speaks to the initial calculation of benefits
for future retirees and not those who are currently receiving benefits.)

It's
noteworthy that the President's special commission also considered
mandatory Social Security for newly hired public employees in
non-Social Security states, but decided against recommending it. While
the President has again embraced the work of his special commission, it
remains to be seen whether he will continue to support its decision
against mandatory coverage.

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