RSVP: Lame Duck & the 114th Congress

Congress is back in what is commonly referred to as the ‘Lame Duck Session’. With less than ten legislative days before the New Year, a number of vital issues await action. From immigration, ISIL and the budget to the tax code and infrastructure, you deserve to know the facts about what we will be debating over the next few weeks - and in the 114th Congress.

On Tuesday, November 25th, I will be hosting a community forum from 6PM-8PM at East Hartford High School on both the Lame Duck Session and the new, incoming Congress. I look forward to providing you with the latest facts on major issues faced by Washington now and over the next two years, as well as information on the makeup of our new Congress. As always, you will also be provided an opportunity to ask questions throughout.

Tuesday, November 25, 6PM-8PM
East Hartford High School, East Lecture Hall
869 Forbes Street, East Hartford, CT 06118
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Please fill out the information below to RSVP:
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While the United States and the international community works to contain the outbreak of Ebola overseas and while public health officials make every effort to prevent the transmission of the virus here in the U.S., I am working to ensure residents of the First District have all the facts they need to keep themselves safe and informed.

I was recently briefed by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) on the steps that need to be taken to prevent the spread of Ebola. After conversations with our Connecticut hospitals, physicians, and nurses, I have relayed their concerns to CDC officials and I look forward to continuing these discussions to ensure their questions get answered. In addition, I encourage everyone to learn more about what Governor Malloy and Commissioner Jewel Mullen (Department of Public Health) are doing to raise the level of preparedness in our Connecticut hospitals and protect our citizens and medical personnel.

While the chances of an outbreak of Ebola in the U.S. on the scale that we have seen in other countries is unlikely, it is clear that Congress needs to be back in session to ensure we are doing everything we can to keep the American public safe and make certain that our public health officials and hospitals have the resources they need to keep us safe and to better respond to potential Ebola cases. I will continue to prevail upon Congress to return to D.C. to address this threat to national security and provide agencies and health care providers with the resources they need to keep all Americans safe from Ebola here in the U.S. and abroad. 

Please continue to check this site, as we will be updating it as new information becomes available.



To find out more information on the current government response to Ebola you can follow this link to the CDC’s website.  In addition, there are links included below to the websites of the other governmental departments involved, outlining their efforts as it relates to Ebola:

Department of Health and Human Services – Facts about Ebola: http://www.hhs.gov/blog/2014/10/facts-about-ebola.html
Department of Homeland Security - http://www.dhs.gov/news/2014/10/08/fact-sheet-screening-travelers-airports
State Department - http://www.state.gov/p/af/rt/health/ebola/index.htm
USAID - http://www.usaid.gov/ebola
Federal Aviation Administration - http://www.faa.gov/news/press_releases/news_story.cfm?newsId=17375
Department of Defense - http://www.defense.gov/home/features/2014/1014_ebola/






Strengthens Benefits

Benefit bump for current and new beneficiaries – Provides a modest increase for all beneficiaries starting in 2015 that is the equivalent of 2% of the average benefit. Increasing benefits will help seniors to get back what they have lost as increased medical costs have eroded Social Security benefits over the last two decades (iv) It will especially help low-income beneficiaries who rely on Social Security for the majority of their income.

Protection against inflation – Improve the annual cost of living adjustment (COLA) formula to better reflect the costs incurred by seniors through adopting a CPI-E formula. This provision will help seniors who spend a greater portion of their income on health care and other necessities. Improved inflation protection will especially help older retirees who are more likely to rely on Social Security benefits as they age.

Cut taxes for beneficiaries – Over 10 million Social Security recipients would see a tax cut. Presently, your Social Security benefits are taxed if you have non-Social Security income exceeding $25,000 for an individual or $32,000 for couples. This would raise that threshold to $50,000 and $100,000 respectively.

Protect low income workers – No one who paid into the system over a lifetime should retire into poverty. The new minimum benefit will be set at 25% above the poverty line rather than below it. It would be indexed to wages to ensure that the minimum benefit does not fall behind.


Strengthens the Trust Fund

Contribution rate increase – Phase in a gradual increase in the contribution rate over 20 years so that workers and employers would pay an additional 1% in 2037. For the average worker that would mean an additional 50 cents per week each year to keep the system solvent.

Have millionaires and billionaires pay the same rate as everyone else – Presently, payroll taxes are not collected on wages over $117,000. This legislation would apply the payroll tax to wages above $400,000. In order to maintain the link between contributions and benefits a 2% benefit credit would be applied.

Improve the rate of return – This provision would only kick in if actuarial projections showed it was necessary to achieve long-term solvency. It would allow a portion of the trust fund’s reserves to be invested back into the American economy to bolster the system as more baby boomers begin to retire. This is based on a plan put forth by former Social Security Commissioner Robert Ball and Social Security Works co-director Nancy Altman (v) and is similar to what is currently done in the railroad retirement program, the Federal Reserve Board pension system, and many state pension systems. The investment in a broad-based, diversified index fund would be overseen by an independent board with fiduciary responsibilities and limited to no more than 25% of Trust Fund reserves. This provision will not affect the benefits guaranteed to individuals as it will be solely used to bolster the Trust Fund.

Addresses the Disability Insurance trust fund – The Disability Insurance (DI) program is a vital part of the Social Security system. However, the DI fund is projected to become depleted in 2016 and this bill would include a payroll tax reallocation to ensure the solvency of the DI program. While DI technically has its own trust fund, the combined Old-Age and Survivors Insurance fund and the Disability Insurance fund are what are commonly referred to as the Social Security Trust Fund. Congress has never let either the OASI or the DI trust funds become depleted and has taken similar reallocation measures 11 times in the past. This has always been a noncontroversial, technical fix and would not affect the projected solvency of the Social Security Trust Fund.


Click Here to View Sources

National Academy of Social Insurance

ii National Academy of Social Insurance

iii National Academy of Social Insurance

iv Social Security Works

v Ball/Altman Plan: http://www.thebattleforsocialsecurity.com/plan.php

vi 72% of Americans have a favorable view of Social Security (NASI)

vii About half (51%) of Millennials believe they will get no benefits from Social Security and 39% predict they will get benefits at
reduced levels (Pew)

viii National Academy of Social Insurance