Urgent Alert on the Social Security Earnings Limit

From: Mike Freeman (mikef@pacifier.com)
Date: Tue Nov 21 1995 - 23:14:49 PST

      Director of Governmental Affairs
      National Federation of the Blind
     Please give this urgent alert notice the widest possible distribution
and do all in your power to act upon it now!!! The information below does
not diminish in any way the need to contact Senators about the same issue.
If anything, it increases the urgency of doing so. Congress--and I do
mean both the House of Representatives and the Senate--is clearly moving
toward an agreement on changing the earnings limit. All of the signs
point in the direction that it could happen in the rush to pass
significant legislation before the end of this year. Therefore, the
pressure is on all of us to act now!!!
     The Social Security Subcommittee of the House Ways and Means
Committee has scheduled a mark-up session on the Social Security earnings
limit for 3:00 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 28 in Room B 318 of the Rayburn House
Office Building. A list of the Social Security Subcommittee members is
the first document following this notice. The fax number and key staff
contact is given for most of these members. Although constituent contacts
should be emphasized, the issue to be voted on--the Social Security
earnings limit--is not limited to Congressional district. Therefore,
everyone who receives this notice should be sure that a significant number
of contacts are made with all of the subcommittee members regardless of
the state involved.
     A bill, H.R. 2668 by Mr. Bunning, introduced on Monday, Nov. 20, is
expected to be the starting point for the mark-up. Section 2 (b)(2) of
this bill is a so-called "conforming amendment" which is the standard
linkage breaking provision. In response to this move, Congresswoman
Barbara Kennelly is preparing to offer a linkage-retention amendment. It
is not possible at this early stage to give you the precise language or
section numbers being changed. The amendment will, however, be drafted so
that it is paid for under the Congressional Budget Office scoring rules.
     All members of the Social Security Subcommittee should be contacted
immediately and often until this mark-up has occurred. They should be
urged to vote for the linkage-retention amendment by Mrs. Kennelly. The
text of a letter, suitable for modification and re-use, follows the list
of the Social Security Subcommittee members. Finally, you will find a
"cosigners list," and a "possible supporters list." These lists indicate
that the linkage policy is already supported by one member short of a
majority on the Social Security Subcommittee and by two members more than
a majority on the full Committee on Ways and Means.
     All members on the Social Security Subcommittee should especially be
contacted before the Nov. 28 mark-up session. After that time, it may be
necessary to contact all members of the full Committee on Ways and Means.
A complete list of the House Ways and Means Committee members appears
after the other lists mentioned above. Those members who are listed as
"cosigners" and "possible supporters" should be thanked and reenforced.
Those not listed should be urged to make a favorable commitment to the
linkage-retention policy. Mark-up in the full Ways and Means Committee is
expected to occur quite soon after the Subcommittee mark-up. Therefore,
please provide me with the best information you can gather on how each
member (subcommittee and full committee) is likely to vote on a
linkage-retention amendment. Mrs. Kennelly needs the best information of
this type that she can get from us as soon as possible.
                  SOCIAL SECURITY SUBCOMMITTEE (Note: The members of the
Social Security Subcommittee, listed in the order of their ranking, are
shown below. To the extent the information is available, fax numbers and
staff contacts are identified.) Jim Bunning KY David A. York Phone: (202)
  Fax: (202) 225-0003 Sam Johnson TX Michael Hanson Phone: (202) 225-4201
  Fax: (202) 225-1485 Mac Collins GA Bo Bryant Phone: (202) 225-5901
  Fax: (202) 225-2515 Rob Portman OH Wayne Lippert Phone: (202) 225-3164
  Fax: (202) 225-1992 Greg Laughlin TX Stephen Swan Phone: (202) 225-2831
  Fax: (202) 225-1108 Phil English PA Karen McGee Phone: (202) 225-5406
Fax # not available Jon Christensen NE Mark Fahleson Phone: (202) 225-4155
  Fax: (202) 225-3032 Andrew Jacobs IN Sandy Wise Phone: (202) 225-4011
  Fax: (202) 225-5680 Barbara Kennelly CT Adam Rak Phone: (202) 225-2265
  Fax: (202) 225-1031 L. F. Payne VA Ford Drummond Phone: (202) 225-4711
  Fax: (202) 226-1147 Richard Neal MA Kathleen Sullivan or Ann Brozek
Phone: (202) 225-5601
  Fax: (202) 225-8112
                                                          DRAFT LETTER
Dear (insert name of Social Security Subcommittee member):
     Please support Mrs. Kennelly's "linkage-retention" amendment when the
bill to change the earnings limit under Social Security is considered.
The amendment will maintain the policy of present law by which the
earnings exemption for blind people and the earnings exemption for senior
citizens are statutorily linked. For the reasons explained below, we hope
that you will vote in the affirmative.
     Concerning the issue of cost: any change in the earnings limit must
be paid for by off setting revenues. This is true if the change applies
only to seniors or if blind people are included as under present law. In
fact, the Congressional Budget Office scoring shows a much higher cost in
raising the earnings limit for seniors as compared to the cost for the
blind. The point is that the cost must be paid. Mrs. Kennelly's
amendment will do just that.
     Question: When the threshold was increased in five mandatory stages
from 1977 through 1982, what was the cost to apply these same changes to
blind people as was done under Mr. Archer's 1977 amendment?
     Answer: Inclusion of blind people had no measurable cost impact. The
same would be true now with Mrs. Kennelly's amendment.
     The rationale for reducing the penalty against earnings for blind
people is precisely the same as it is for seniors. Since the time that
Mr. Archer's amendment to create an identical earnings limit for the blind
and for seniors was passed in 1977, all mandatory and automatic changes
have applied to both groups to exactly the same extent and at absolutely
no additional cost.
     The present earnings exemption is $11,280. Blind people would still
be limited to this while earnings of seniors could go up without penalty.
That differential will establish a policy of keeping blind people out of
the work force while inviting seniors to keep working. The distinction
being made is a cruel one. Blind people, their family members, and their
friends will understand it that way.
     If members who support the Senior Citizens' Equity Act want to have
equity for both blind people and seniors, it is possible to do so with the
costs being paid. Your vote in favor of Mrs. Kennelly's amendment during
mark-up will help to make this happen.
                              Very truly yours,
                        LIST OF COSIGNERS (Note: The Ways and Means
Committee members listed below have indicated their support for
maintaining the linkage of earnings exemptions for blind people and
seniors. They have done so in at least one of the following ways: (1)
cosponsoring House Concurrent Resolution 23, by Mrs. Kennelly; (2)
cosigning a letter on the earnings limit linkage which was sent to House
Speaker Newt Gingrich; and (3) cosigning a letter on the earnings limit
linkage which was sent to Senate Finance Committee Chairman Robert
Packwood.) Rep. Nancy L. Johnson CT Rep. Dick Zimmer NJ Rep. Jennifer Dunn
WA Rep. Greg Laughlin TX Rep. Charles B. Rangel NY Rep. Andrew Jacobs IN
Rep. Barbara B. Kennelly CT Rep. William J. Coyne PA Rep. Sander M. Levin
MI Rep. Jim McDermott WA Rep. Gerald D. Kleczka WI Rep. John Lewis GA Rep.
L. F. Payne VA Rep. Richard E. Neal MA
                    POSSIBLE SUPPORTERS LIST (Note: The Ways and Means
Committee members listed below have expressed positive reactions to
maintaining the linkage of earnings exemptions for blind people and
seniors. However, they have not officially cosponsored or cosigned any
communication to this effect.) Rep. Philip M. Crane IL Rep. Bill Thomas CA
Rep. Amo Houghton NY Rep. Wally Herger CA Rep. Sam M. Gibbons FL Rep.
Harold E. Ford TN Rep. Robert T. Matsui CA
                         104th CONGRESS
                       (in ranking order) Note: There are 37 members on
the House Ways and Means Committee. 11 of these members serve on the
Social Security Subcommittee. These 11 members are identified. The
address for each of the following members is as follows: Member Name
United States House of Representatives Washington, D.C. 20515 Majority
members: Rep. Bill Archer Chairman TX 202-225-2571 Rep. Philip M. Crane
IL 202-225-3711 Rep. Bill Thomas CA 202-225-2915 Rep. E. Clay Shaw FL
202-225-3026 Rep. Nancy L. Johnson CT 202-225-4476 Rep. Jim Bunning KY
Social Security Subcomm., Chairman 202-225-3465 Rep. Amo Houghton NY
202-225-3161 Rep. Wally Herger CA 202-225-3076 Rep. Jim McCrery LA
202-225-2777 Rep. Mel Hancock MO 202-225-6536 Rep. Dave Camp MI
202-225-3561 Rep. Jim Ramstad MN 202-225-2871 Rep. Dick Zimmer NJ
202-225-5801 Rep. Jim Nussle IA 202-225-2911 Rep. Sam Johnson TX Social
Security Subcomm. 202-225-4201 Rep. Jennifer Dunn WA 202-225-7761 Rep.
Mac Collins GA Social Security Subcomm. 202-225-5901 Rep. Rob Portman OH
Social Security Subcomm. 202-225-3164 Rep. Greg Laughlin TX Social
Security Subcomm. 202-225-2831 Rep. Phil English PA Social Security
Subcomm. 202-225-5406 Rep. John Ensign NV 202-225-5965 Rep. Jon
Christensen NE Social Security Subcomm. 202-225-4155 Minority Members:
Rep. Sam M. Gibbons--Ranking Minority Member FL 202-225-3376 Rep. Charles
B. Rangel NY 202-225-4365 Rep. Pete Stark CA 202-225-5065 Rep. Andrew
Jacobs IN Social Security Subcomm.--Minority Chair 202-225-4011 Rep.
Harold E. Ford TN 202-225-3265 Rep. Robert T. Matsui CA 202-225-7163 Rep.
Barbara B. Kennelly CT Social Security Subcomm. 202-225-2265 Rep. William
J. Coyne PA 202-225-2301 Rep. Sander M. Levin MI 202-225-4961 Rep.
Benjamin L. Cardin MD 202-225-4016 Rep. Jim McDermott WA 202-225-3106 Rep.
Gerald D. Kleczka WI 202-225-4572 Rep. John Lewis GA 202-225-3801 Rep. L.
F. Payne VA Social Security Subcomm. 202-225-4711 Rep. Richard E. Neal MA
Social Security Subcomm. 202-225-5601

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