Monday, October 18, 2010

Can Congress Constrain Its Future Self?

The short answer appears to be no.

Dems Set Lame-Duck Vote on Extra Social Security Payment - Blog - OpenCongress
On Friday, Speaker Nancy Pelosi [D, CA-8] announced that she was scheduling a vote on the Seniors Protection Act of 2010, which would give a one-time payment of $250 to social security recipients who are struggling in the recession economic downturn.

Pelosi’s announcement came on the heels of an announcement from the Social Security Administration that, for the second year in a row, seniors on social security will not be receiving a cost of living adjustment (COLA) in 2010. Since the Social Security Amendments Act passed by Congress in 1975, payments have been calculated automatically based on a formula using a 12-month view of the Consumer Price Index in order to keep pace with the rate of inflation. The CPI has been on a very steady increase for decades, but when the recession hit it tanked and it’s still below its peak level of July 2008. The COLA formula is designed to automatically block increases until the CPI is above its former peak. Therefore, no increase in payments. This is not an act of the 111th Congress, it’s an effect of actions taken by the 94th Congress, which, by the way, was controlled by the Democrats in both chambers.
Please keep this in mind around 2018 when the tax on high cost health plans is supposed to kick which are supposed to help pay for the Obama health reform.

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