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Public Statements

Rep. Berman Speaks in support of his Social Security Fairness Act, H.R. 82


Location: Washington, DC

Rep. Berman Speaks in support of his Social Security Fairness Act, H.R. 82

- At a press conference following today's Ways and Means Subcommittee on Social Security's hearing on Social Security fixes, including Rep. Howard Berman's bill, H.R. 82, The Social Security Fairness Act, Berman gave the following statement:

"The Social Security Fairness Act has 336 cosponsors - fully three quarters of the House of Representatives, and a record number for this bill. This level of Congressional support tells us that this legislation is extremely important to millions of Americans nationwide.

"The people who need this bill made their Social Security payments for as long as they were required to. But they don't receive full benefits in return. Why? Because they also worked as public servants. This is not only unfair, it hurts our communities. It makes it very difficult to attract future public servants to our states.

"Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger estimates that California faces a shortage of one hundred thousand teachers over the next 10 years, especially in math and science.

"The Government Pension Offset (GPO) and Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) make it very hard for individuals who have worked in the private sector to choose to become teachers. Their move from a Social Security to a non -Social Security covered job exposes them to the pension penalties we're fighting to repeal. Passing the Social Security Fairness Act will undeniably help us attract experienced, knowledgeable people to second careers as educators.

"Public employees - teachers, police officers, government workers, and fire fighters - face the loss of a substantial part of their retirement benefits because of GPO and WEP. Although these two provisions were created to help equalize the way workers are treated between two retirement systems, the outcome is a substantial financial hardship for many of our nation's retiring public servants. This is a classic case of the law of unintended consequences hard at work.

"The testimony presented at this morning's hearing of the Ways and Means Subcommittee on Social Security made clear that these provisions are arbitrary and hurtful. I hope the Subcommittee will continue its investigation of G-P-O and WEP and will conclude that they should be repealed."

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