In a speech on the Senate floor, Sen. Franken said:
we’re just one month away from the New Year. 2016 will bring a lot of new things, but one thing it will not bring is a cost-of-living increase for seniors, veterans, and people with disabilities. Despite the fact that the costs of health care, prescription drugs, and housing are increasing, the size of a Social Security check won’t go up one cent on January 1 – unless Congress acts.
That’s why my colleagues and I have introduced the Senior and Veterans Emergency Benefits Act – or SAVE Benefits Act. The SAVE Benefits Act gives a one-time payment to seniors and veterans receiving their earned benefits so they can better meet their basic living expenses.
CEOs and big businesses will still do just fine under this bill. At the same time, the SAVE Benefits Act will provide critical assistance to Americans struggling to meet their expenses. In fact, this increase in benefits will lift about 8,000 Minnesotans out of poverty, and thousands more in every state.
Ultimately, the debate over this bill comes down to priorities. What’s more important? Protecting high pay for the wealthiest Americans or ensuring that seniors, veterans, and people with disabilities have the income security that they need to pay for health care, prescription drugs, and housing?
The group of liberal senators who are sponsoring the bill includes Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.), Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Bob Casey (D-Pa.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Al Franken (D-Minn.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Mazie K. Hirono (D-Hawai’i), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), and Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.).
Republicans are going to reject this bill and show that protecting CEOs and big business is more important to them than the 70 million Americans who would be helped by this cost of living increase.
It is important to note that the liberals aren’t pushing for a permanent increase. They are only seeking a one-time payment to seniors, veterans, and the disabled. There will be more campaign ads than a person can count airing next year, but the best way to measure the intentions of an incumbent is to look at their actions when they are not up for reelection.
The Republican majority in the Senate has acted in ways that are anti-seniors, anti-persons with disabilities, and anti-veterans. The Republican Senate majority talks a good game, but when the rubber hits the road, they always choose the interests of their corporate and billionaire backers.
Senate Democrats are holding the Republicans accountable, and offering them a chance to back up their talk with action. On Election Day 2016, voters will remember when Republicans chose billionaires and corporations over seniors, the disabled, and veterans and the price will be their jobs.