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DEFAZIO FIGHTS FOR SOCIAL SECURITY COST-OF-LIVING ADJUSTMENT

Republican Challenger Art Robinson wants seniors to invest in Wall Street

EUGENE (OR) – The Social Security Administration will announce nearly 60 million Social Security beneficiaries will not receive a cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) for the second year in a row. Seniors will have to wait until 2012 or longer before receiving a modest increase in benefits to pay for higher medical care and prescription drug costs.

“This is devastating news for our seniors and it is grossly unfair,” DeFazio said. “Rising medical and prescription drug costs disproportionately affect seniors and are diminishing the value of Social Security payments. Without a COLA, seniors will have fewer dollars in their pockets to pay Medicare premiums, prescription co-pays, utilities and other essentials. Our seniors need help, and they need it now.”

DeFazio, who has been fighting his party leadership to get a one time $250 COLA payment passed, was pleased to see that Congress will be taking up the issue in the lame duck session. DeFazio has proposed legislation that would increase the COLA to Social Security beneficiaries in 2011, paid for by closing a tax loophole for millionaires while adding nothing to the deficit.

DeFazio’s $250 one time payment proposal has broad support from senior advocacy groups the Veterans of Foreign Wars, the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare, and the Senior Citizen League.

DeFazio's challenger, Art Robinson, is not a fan. Robinson has called Social Security and Medicare "Ponzi schemes" and supports the privatization of Social Security and Medicare.

Robinson was asked about the dangers of Social Security privatization at a recent town meeting in Springfield. An attendee asked what Robinson would say to her if she invested retirement savings in the stock market and lost everything. Robinson replied, “You will have to rely on your friends and relatives and wouldn’t get a retirement income.”

SEE VIDEO OF EXCHANGE: http://whoisartrobinson.defazioforcongress.org/2010/10/14/art-robinson-privatize-social-security-and-tough-l/

"My opponent and I couldn't be further apart on this issue," DeFazio said. “As one of the only gerontologists in Congress, I have worked to protect and improve the Social Security system for current and future beneficiaries. My opponent thinks seniors should trust Wall Street. If his system had been in place two years ago when the market crashed, seniors would have lost 40 percent of their retirement investments. That's wrong, and I won’t let that happen without a fight."

In addition to the $250 payment, DeFazio said he is also fighting in Congress to change how the federal government computes Social Security cost-of-living adjustments so seniors do not have to continue to rely on politicians to pay their bills.

“A one-time COLA payment is desperately needed as a short-term measure to help seniors make ends meet, but it’s not a long-term solution. And using the current CPI to compute a cost-of-living adjustment for seniors doesn’t make any sense because it does not reflect what most seniors spend their money on - health care, prescription drugs, and housing,” DeFazio said. “We need a fair and consistent measurement that computes the real cost-of-living for seniors.”

Since 1975, annual increases in Social Security benefits have been linked to the Consumer Price Index (CPI), a measure of inflationary trends in the economy. The federal government calculates the CPI based on a generic basket of consumer goods that includes food, utilities, energy prices, and consumer electronics. The CPI places little emphasis on the cost of health care, Medicare premiums, and prescription drugs that make up the bulk of seniors’ budgets.

DeFazio introduced H.R. 2365, the Consumer Price Index for Elderly Consumers Act, in 2009. The legislation would direct the Department of Labor to prepare and publish a monthly Consumer Price Index for Elderly Consumers (CPI-E) that indicates changes in expenditures for consumption which are typical for individuals aged 62 years of age or older. The CPI-E would then be used to calculate Social Security cost-of-living adjustments. DeFazio’s legislation has 67 bipartisan cosponsors.

Learn more about what DeFazio is doing in Congress to fight for seniors and to protect Social Security at www.defazioforcongress.org .

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Posted on October 15, 2010 in Press Releases.

As Independent as Oregon.

Peter DeFazio's common-sense proposals aim to create good-paying jobs, expand access to affordable health care and develop options outside of the for-profit marketplace, restore economic and educational opportunities, hold government accountable and tip the scales of inequality back in favor of hard-working Oregonians.

Meet Peter