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Democrat Says He Will Push $250 Social Security Payment

Rep. Earl Pomeroy said Wednesday he will push legislation this fall that would provide a one-time $250 payment to seniors as he and two other Democrats, back home in their districts after a one-day House session, touted their party’s efforts to protect Social Security.

Pomeroy, who is in a tough race to hold his North Dakota seat, told reporters in an afternoon conference call that he had been holding events throughout his state and meeting with seniors to highlight Social Security’s 75th anniversary. Pomeroy was joined on the call by Reps. Ron Klein of Florida and Jan Schakowsky of Illinois. He said seniors in his state were worried their Social Security benefits could be reduced.

“We reject those who propose benefit cuts for Social Security,” Pomeroy said, seizing on a Democratic theme that Republicans, if they win control of the House, would attempt to privatize the program or reduce benefits.

Democrats are positioning to keep the issue in the limelight this fall. Pomeroy said he had spoken with Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) about legislation that would provide a $250 payment to Social Security recipients if there is no automatic cost-of-living adjustment again this year.

“And I anticipate action in September on it,” he added.

A similar benefit was extended as part of last year’s economic stimulus law.

Democratic leaders have encouraged their rank and file to spend this week talking about Social Security ahead of the Saturday anniversary and specifically to try to draw a contrast to Republicans by highlighting GOP proposals that would move toward privatization, such as a proposal from House Budget ranking member Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) that would establish private accounts for Social Security.

Schakowsky said seniors in her district were upset and angry at the prospect that privatization efforts, which seniors were instrumental in beating back after the 2004 elections, could re-emerge.
“They thought they had succeeded in putting the stake in the heart of privatization during the Bush administration,” she said.

Although Ryan’s bill has just a handful of co-sponsors, the Democrats insisted that Republicans would move to embrace such proposals if they won control of the House in November.

“We absolutely need to engage in that discussion,” Pomeroy said. “Failure to do so might leave the impression that there’s somehow a national mandate for change that we don’t believe exists.”

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