Tuesday, January 3, 2017


January 2, 2017


A President Bernie Sanders would be arguing for "expanding benefits"

President-Elect & House Speaker Paul Ryan
Ryan withdrew Trump support but now has "a cat who ate the canary' smirk. 

The photo itself shows there is a "glaring error" in what is to come.

In an email initiated by Act Blue they report "Rep. Sam Johnson (R-TX) – Chairman of the House Social Security Subcommittee – introduced a bill that would, on average, cut Social Security benefits by 27% for the majority of recipients." Act Blue asks for citizens to sign a petition to prohibit such cuts.* 

                                        Michael Phelan Social Security Works info@socialsecurityworks.org

I signed the petition and encourage you to do so as well. Go to the link below and you should be able to reach the site. 

Sign the petition today to stand up to Donald Trump and Paul Ryan, and remind them that Americans did not vote to destroy Medicare and Social Security!

In addition entered the following comments.

"Social Security Benefits are the equivalent of a solemn promise by the Federal government to every American worker to guarantee a retirement payment. Social Security Retirement Benefits and subsequent programs such as Medicare have been in place for 80 years. The benefits are universally accepted by a vast majority as "sacred" and a covenant that cannot be severed, manipulated by the few and reinforced as the foundation of a stable source of income in old age when it is most needed." 

I added my suggestions as to how Social Security Retirement Funds can remain solvent.

Social Security should be solidified by lifting the cap on taxes for the most wealthy wage earners. The current withholding FICA tax of 6.1% presents no hardship on these wage earners. SSB should be expanded, not cut. Congress needs to look at their own inflated and number of retirement programs. They enjoy generous Federal pensions, Deferred Comp 457, 401-K & other incentives as well as Social Security. Limits are needed and Federal pensions cut as much as 50% for members of Congress who are part time at best"


This bill must be defeated before it hits the floor. Americans should be educated and galvanized in a universal campaign to write, email and phone call ALL of Congress that We the People will not accept anything less than securing benefits, but expanding them. 

While contacting your respective Congressman you may wish to add your opposition to a repeal of Obama Care without a suitable replacement or in the areas of Immigration, Pro Choice, Human Rights, LGBT Rights, Dodd-Frank, Escalation in a Nuclear Arms race and all legislation or reversal of executive orders detrimental to ninety-eight percent of Americans. 

Do not ever believe your voice does not matter. It does. Phone calls, tweets and email no doubt have an impact, but written letters are powerful. There is nothing more imposing to a public official when letters pile up on their desks. They are aware each letter is a vote.

On the Home page here in the Title Bar you can "click on"  Contact Washington, DC that will bring up a page where you can find names and addresses of the Michigan delegation and links to the websites where you can locate your representative. 

Also, remember Senator Bernie Sanders who is leading the cause to keep Donald Trump honest and true to his campaign promises, holding harmless changes to Social Security. Please support Bernie and join his cause. The New Year and the immediate years to follow call for everyone to remain aware of detrimental legislation by Republicans and vigilant in your opposition. 

Again, I urge anyone with a stake in their current benefits and those that will be negatively impacted, to contact their respective House Representative and demand this bill be defeated and never reaches President Trump's desk.


* Rep Sam Johnson (R-TX) is a member of the larger Ways & Means Committee and serves as chair of the Subcommittee on Social Security since 2007  comprised of  (11) eleven members of which (7) seven are Republican and only (4) are Democrats.

An interesting sidebar is that on November 15, 2016 the Ways & Means bestowed an honor by officially naming a hearings room as the "Sam Johnson Hearings Room." This occurred one month prior to the introduction of his bill with a subtitle. This action is indicative of Sam Johnson's  influence.

Rep Sam Johnson (R-TX) introduced his bill "to save Social Security" to the subcommittee for which he is chair on December 15, 2016. As chair he will call for testimony before his subcommittee to present pros and cons on this legislation.  

After the hearings, it usually issues a report that is either favorable or unfavorable to the bill. Or it may report out an amended or changed bill. When the subcommittee finalizes its' work the eleven members will vote ( 7 Republicans, 4 Democrats) on forwarding the bill to the Ways and Means Committee. It is a safe bet this recommendation will be decided along party lines with a 7-4 vote. The standing committee usually accepts the recommendation of its subcommittee. The next step is for Speaker Paul Ryan to consider the bill and decide if it is to be presented before the House. For all practical reasons, the Speaker will decide the amount of time for debate on the floor and set a date for a vote by the full House.

When the House, based on no doubt little debate votes the outcome will be predictable in that the Republican majority will vote in favor and pass the bill on to the Senate.

You can access the complete written 54 page draft by placing this link in your browser.


I spent time reviewing both summary of the highlights and the actual bill. The bill it is divided into sections and line items. One item immediately grabbed my attention is the first. 


This is a typical Republican "spin" of misinformation of the words, titles, bills as proposed and fed to the media in press releases for public consumption. Note the use of "Modernizing" and "for the 21st Century." By use of such terms, the first reaction of the general public is that "it must be good" as it "modernizes...to make Social Security solvent" for future young members of the workforce. It will be seen as sweeping change promised by the President-Elect. It will be marketed as "Progressive" when it is nothing close to the truth.

The Johnson HR Bill _____ (without yet a number), is fifty-four pages in length, written in legalese that is foreign to most readers. 

One item identified highlighted is to limit the COLA (Cost of Living Increases) for recipients annually taking effect each January. Rep. Johnson wishes to place "limits" on the size of the increase by decreasing the raise due to COLA. 

This is a joke. The change in Social Security benefits for 2017 is based on a new formula to determine "average increase in the cost of living across the board" based on consumer prices and costs in 2016. This year, Congress determined that there was no discernible increase in the cost of seniors to live day to day throughout the year. The amount of the "benefit increase" that takes effect January 2017 is 0.003%

Now take note, that percentage increase is not 3%, but .003%! This is an insult to Seniors, Retirees and the Disabled. To illustrate let us use the amount of $1,000.00 in benefits per month. This formula is 1000 X .003 = $3.00 per month. Need anyone say more? 

The hypocrisy in the computation of the rate of inflation has no discernible effect is contradicted by Social Security in their Award Letters issued to beneficiaries. The contradiction is that with 2015 benefit year, the Medicare Part A B & D premium amounts increased significantly. 

Therefore, Social Security acknowledges there is evidence to support this increase in Medicare premiums than, in my view, is based on an increase in overall medical costs to which I believe is just one factor considered to determine overall increase or inflation that certainly has an impact on seniors and other beneficiaries. In my own situation, my Medicare premium increase was $80 per month or $960.00 per year. This amount does reflect an overall increase in the cost of living obviously omitted from the first computation based on the CPI. 

Be mindful that the statistics and amounts estimated come from the Department of Labor as they report to the Congressional Office of the Budget (COB). The varied statistical studies that impact Congressional debate on spending is an entity controlled by a majority Republican Congress. The public knows that this political party is suspect on every position concerning every issue.