Legislation in the House and Senate to provide one-time emergency COLA relief for seniors is expected to beconsidered in the lame duck session of Congress before it wraps up its work next month. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has includedCOLA reliefon her list of must-pass items and Majority Leader Harry Reid has promised to take it up in the Senate.Let?s be clear about what this bill would do. The legislation would not provide an actual COLA increase, since under current law the COLA formula mandated no increase in 2010 and 2011; however, this legislation would provide a single $250 payment next year. You may remember, a similar provision was included in the 2009 stimulus bill and was successful in providing modest relief to seniors hit hard by the recession and also providing desperately needed economic stimulus.But passage of this COLA bill is anything but certain. Deficit hawks continue their campaign against anything vaguely resembling help for the middle class and, in fact, the chairmen of the Fiscal Commission now suggest that the current formula (which led to zero COLA?s for two years) is actually too generous. They want a new and less ?generous? COLA formula enacted as soon as 2012. Cutting the COLA during the worst economic crisis in decades would be disastrous for millions of Americans but it is exactly what multi-billionaire and anti-entitlement crusader Pete Peterson has advocatedas far back as the 1970?s. We detailed some of that history here:
Peterson is no stranger to the battle against America?s retirement safety net. He?s called the current cost of living increases in Social Security, which provide adjustments of roughly 3% a year, ?one of the greatest fiscal tragedies of American history? because he considers them excessive. At the same time, Peterson steadfastly defends a controversial private equity tax break that benefits America?s wealthiest investors. So much for fiscal responsibility.
With$1 billion dollars invested in his anti-Social Security , oops we mean fiscal responsibility campaign, passage of this COLA relief legislation will be difficult. In fact, members of Congress are being told they?re ?political cowards? if they don?t cut Social Security. Now is the time for you to let Congress know that cutting Social Security while extending tax breaks for the wealthy shows anything but political courage.Send your representatives in the House and Senate an email directly from our Legislative Action center on our website or from our Facebook page. You can use the sample letter we?ve provided or, even better, write your own. The COLA vote could come at any time so please forward the links to your friends and tell Congress to support COLA relief legislation.