Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Senator John Kerry backs away from hearing on repeal of the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP)

Efforts for the repeal of the WEP took a step backward with the recent decision by John Kerry, the Chairman of the Senate’s Committee on Social Security, not to conduct hearings this year on the issue.

Louisiana is one of seven states (CA, CO, IL, MA, OH, and TX) where the majority of public employees do not participate in Social Security.

Although Senator John Kerry co-sponsored bills that would permanently repeal both the WEP and GPO, it now appears that the Senator would rather address the legislation within the context of an overhaul to the Social Security System.

"During this Congress and in the past, I have cosponsored bills that would permanently repeal both the GPO and WEP. I am currently a co-sponsor of S.206, Social Security Fairness Act of 2007, which Senator Feinstein introduced. I will continue to support partial relief measures to help people adversely affected by the GPO and WEP in the hope that such a bill would pass in the Senate.

"In addition, for your suggestion of a hearing on S.206. I personally believe that the best way to address this legislation is in the context of an overhaul to the Social Security Program. I fear a hearing on this issue has the potential to reopen the debate on private accounts and actually move us backwards in terms of finding a solution."

Based on Senator Kerry's letter, we can draw no other conclusion other than he is not in favor of calling a hearing on the WEP and GPO, the two laws that are so devastating to many public employees.

Therefore, we will focus on the House, where the leadership has indicated a willingness to give our members and their Congressmen an opportunity to be heard. We just can't sit back and wait for Social Security's overhaul, which may or may not happen for many years.