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Women and Social Security Alert No. 24

November 2009; New research from the National Academy of Social Insurance, plus news on the Greenspan Commission and COLA relief legislation.

ITEMS IN THIS ALERT:

New Research

  • National Academy of Social Insurance (NASI) Releases New Recommendations for Balancing Social Security's Finances and Improving Benefit Adequacy

    In the News

    • Staff of the Greenspan Commission Respond to Senate Budget Committee Hearings on a Proposed Bipartisan Debt-Reduction Commission
    • White House Supports COLA Relief Legislation

     

    NEW RESEARCH

    National Academy of Social Insurance (NASI) Releases New Recommendations for Balancing Social Security's Finances and Improving Benefit Adequacy

    On Friday, October 30, the National Academy of Social Insurance released its new report, Fixing Social Security: Adequate Benefits, Adequate Financingto help analysts, policymakers, journalists, constituent organizations, and interested citizens consider how to reform Social Security in ways that address concerns about benefit adequacy. The report proposed 30 different options for putting the Social Security program's funds into 75-year balance and it also provides 10 recommendations for improving the adequacy of benefits for Social Security recipients. To balance Social Security's finances, NASI recommends lifting the gap (now $106,800) on earnings from which workers and employers pay Social Security taxes, broadening the base for Social Security taxes, scheduling modest rate increases when funds are needed in the future, dedicating progressive taxes to pay for Social Security's future costs, and gradually lowering some future benefits. The report suggests improving benefit adequacy for the most financially vulnerable groups including beneficiaries over age 85, widowed spouses of low earners, low-paid workers, workers with gaps in paid work due to child care, and students in college or vocational school who lost their parental support due to death or disability.

    To read the full report, please visit:http://www.nasi.org/usr_doc/Fixing_Social_Security.pdf

    IN THE NEWS

    Members of the Greenspan Commission Respond to Senate Budget Committee Hearings on Proposed Bipartisan Debt-Reduction Commission

    On Tuesday, November 10, the Senate Budget Committee held hearings on legislation proposed by Senators Kent Conrad (ND) and Judd Gregg (NH) to form a bipartisan commission that would focus on reducing the debt by considering all options to address the deficit, including revenues and taxes and mandatory and discretionary spending. Several members of Congress working on commission proposals, including Senators Dianne Feinstein (CA), Joseph Lieberman (CT), George Voinovich (OH), Evan Bayh (IN), Representative Jim Cooper (TN), and Representative Frank Wolf (VA), spoke at the hearing. Others providing testimony included Maya MacGuineas (Committee for a Responsible Budget), David Walker (Peter G. Peterson Foundation), William Galston (Brookings Institution), and Douglas Holtz- Eakin (DHE Consulting). Under the proposed legislation, the Commission would hold public hearings across the country and then develop recommendations for Congress to approve on a fast track, much like the Base Closing Commission. The Commission would be composed of 15 members selected for their financial expertise. Testimonies and statements from the hearing are available at:http://budget.senate.gov/democratic/hearingstate.html.

    In response to developing commission proposals, eight budget experts who staffed the earlier National Commission on Social Security Reform (the Greenspan commission) submitted a statement to the Senate budget committee arguing against the proposed commission. In their statement, the former staffers argue that there is not a precedent for the limited debate and prohibition on amendments in the current commission proposal because Social Security legislation has always had the benefit of full committee hearings in the House and the Senate, executive sessions which provided members of Congress the opportunity to offer amendments, and debate and amendment in the House of Representatives. The group also emphasized that the Greenspan Commission was successful because it included members from business, labor, and the general public, not just financial experts. Since Social Security is crucial for millions of Americans, the group also believes that all proposals need to be carefully examined and understood by Congressional representatives who can be held accountable for any policy changes enacted. The statement also emphasizes the fact that Social Security is not responsible for the nation's deficit problems since it is expected to be in balance until 2037. Moreover, the current law already prohibits deficit spending for Social Security. To read the full statement, please visit: http://socialsecuritymatters.org/Resources.html.

    White House Supports COLA Relief Legislation

    On Wednesday, October 15, the White House announced that it would support Emergency Senior Citizens Relief Act. The bill, co-sponsored by Senator Bernie Sanders (VT) and Representative Peter DeFazio (OR), provides seniors, veterans, and persons with disabilities with an emergency benefit of $250 in 2010. This benefit is intended to compensate recipients for the lack of cost-of-living adjustments to Social Security in 2010. The bill extends the $250 emergency benefit that was originally provided to Social Security beneficiaries, SSI recipients, and disabled veterans under the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. To view a copy of the bill, please visit:http://www.thomas.gov/home/gpoxmlc111/s1685_is.xml

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