Tell Congress ‘No’ to a secretive ‘Fiscal Commission’

by Tia Maria

A so-called “fiscal commission” proposed by House Republicans should alarm senior citizens and others who depend on programs such as Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. 

At press time, HR 5779 (the Fiscal Commission Act) and the companion bill in the Senate, S. 3262 (the Fiscal Stability Act), would target worthy programs for cuts. 

House Speaker Mike Johnson supports the bad idea of a fiscal commission. Data shows that tens of millions of seniors would fall into poverty without their monthly Social Security check, and more than half of African American families who depend on Social Security would fall into poverty. Many agree that this is disturbing news, especially during current Congressional threats of a government shutdown.

Cutting senior citizens’ benefits would be an end result, and not the needed increase in revenue, to extend program solvency. Working- and middle-class Americans would take a massive financial hit in order to extend the solvency of the Social Security trust fund, but Social Security and Medicare Part A have zero to do with the debt. The most recent statistics show that 40 percent of Social Security beneficiaries depend on the program for 90 percent of their retirement. That’s a lot of people.

And let’s not be fooled. Benefit cuts include proposals to raise the retirement eligibility age, adopt a stingier COLA (Cost of Living Adjustment) formula, and means-testing, which would cut deep into the heart of middle-class benefits. 

Even more insulting to seniors and those approaching retirement age is the Republican Study Committee that proposes privatizing programs in addition to raising the retirement eligibility age. But each year the retirement eligibility age is raised translates into a 7 percent cut in benefits. 

Ask a construction worker, a restaurant server or anyone else who works for a living how they like those bad ideas. Add to this a fiscal commission that would meet in secret and lead to a fast-track measure if legislation reached the Senate for a vote. This would give political cover to politicians who vote for cuts and leave voters not knowing who voted for cuts.

Something also to be aware of is legislation creating a fiscal commission that might not arrive as a stand-alone bill for a vote on the full House floor. Instead, it could be sneaked into a grand spending bill to keep the government open. That’s dangerous for seniors but tempting even for Democrats to support — something experts agree will ultimately backfire on them. Because let’s face it, when you’re a champion of Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, voters will reward you on election day.

Thankfully, we have a supportive president with a veto pen and a citizenry who are resolved to protect these programs. Many legislators also support these programs. But they need to hear from their constituents. Let your congressional elected officials know they should oppose any fiscal commission that will meet in secret to cut worthy programs. Use a positive tone and remember a quote credited to First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt: “To handle yourself, use your head. To handle others, use your heart.”

Find your Congressional representative at Call or write them and tell them in the best way possible to oppose any fiscal commission, be it a stand-alone or part of a larger bill, that would meet in secret and cut worthy social programs that help a lot of people. Then contact your U.S. Senator with the same message:

Tia Maria (a pen name) is a volunteer with the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare and credits the NCPSSM for the above information.

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