Retiree group scores Congress on votesNews added by Benefits Pro on March 10, 2016

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By Marlene Y. Satter

Retirement security was not a priority for the 2015 Congress, according to a new voting scorecard released by the Alliance for Retired Americans.

The group, a national organization that advocates for the “rights and well-being of … retirees and their families,” released its scorecard at a Las Vegas meeting focusing on organizing and advocacy skills. It gave freshman Republican senators a failing grade, with nine out of 12 scoring zero for their votes on the 10 issues examined for the scorecard. The other three got a 10 percent ranking.

The report examined 10 Senate and House votes in 2015, showing the roll calls on issues that affect “current and future retirees,” and found the results from the new members of Congress wanting. However, all members of Congress were ranked based on their votes, and not just for 2015; each also received a “lifetime” rating for votes affecting retirees.

Issues on which the group criticized votes were:
  • Attempts to cut or privatize Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid to reverse sequestration cuts,

  • Repeal the Affordable Care Act,

  • Pass the fast-track trade authority, which the group said “eliminated the ability to scrutinize and amend proposed trade agreements that lock in higher drug prices,”

  • And attempts to increase the minimum wage, which it said would address income inequality.
The report looked not only at legislation, but at amendments that would change how a piece of legislation would affect retirees.

Proportionately, senators scored higher than members of the House, with 28 receiving scores of zero, but 33 getting “perfect scores of 100 percent in 2015.” Among House members, 133 got perfect scores of 100 percent and 31 scored zero.

House Ways and Means Committee Chairman and current House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wisconsin, Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-California, Majority Whip Steve Scalise, R-Louisiana, and Budget Committee Chairman Tom Price, R-Georgia, all scored 10 percent on legislation that was important to seniors in 2015.

“Unfortunately, the new Congress that came to town did not help improve the nation’s retirement security,” Robert Roach, Jr., president of the Alliance, said in a statement. “We had an opportunity for change but we didn’t take advantage of it.” He added, “This voting record reflects how committed our elected representatives are to seniors. It will be a useful tool as we look at who our friends truly are.”

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