Once a smaller sector of the American population, senior citizens now make up a very sizable sector of voters. The Baby Boomers are now retiring and many relying on Social Security for their living. They look forward to every yearly increase in Social Security retirement benefits in hopes of being able to keep up with inflation. In many years, the paltry annual cost of living increase in Social Security is less than the overall cost of living, especially compared to the steady increases in healthcare costs.
The holds true for the ever growing number of disabled veterans receiving government benefits. The wars in the Middle East have left thousands of men and women disabled, both physically and mentally. Many of them are young and still have most of their lives ahead of them but find themselves unable to work and provide for themselves and their families.
The Obama administration recently announced that the inflation figures used to determine the cost of living increase for Social Security and disabled veterans were too small to warrant an increase for 2016. Using the existing formula, a cost of living increase for SSI and disabled veterans would only amount to 0.6%, so it was decided that no cost of living increase would be given in 2016.
The news has hit many seniors hard, especially since Obamacare is causing the cost of their healthcare and medications to increase at an alarming rate. Many are wondering what, if anything, they can sacrifice from their fixed budgets to pay for these significant increases. They were counting on the meager annual increase of their benefits to help make up the difference, but that won’t happen in 2016.
In an effort to win the votes of millions of senior and veteran voters, Sen. Bernie Sanders has joined forces with Sen. Elizabeth Warren by introducing legislation that would send every Social Security recipient and disabled veteran a lump sum of around $580, or 3.9% of their annual benefits, to make up for the loss of their cost of living increases.
They further want to win votes by saying that they will pay for the payout by ending tax loopholes that allow businesses to write off part of the salary they pay their executives that is based upon performance. Supposedly, that will cause businesses to pay more in corporate taxes.
However, Republicans control the Senate and House and most of them have said they are against the payout legislation. If they do block it from passing, Sanders and probably Hilary Clinton will undoubtedly use it against the GOP presidential candidates in an effort to win the votes of senior citizens and disabled veterans. I can’t help but believe that Sanders and Warren’s actions are nothing more than a showy effort to buy the votes of seniors and disabled veterans.