Congressman Dennis A. Ross (R-FL), today announced several pieces of legislation he is co-sponsoring to protect Social Security and save Medicare for today's seniors and tomorrow's retirees.
On Social Security, Congressman Ross has signed on to two pieces of legislation authored by Congressman Ron Paul of Texas - The Senior Citizens' Tax Elimination Act (which repeals all taxes on Social Security benefits) and The Social Security Beneficiaries' Tax Reduction Act (which repeals the 1993 tax increase on Social Security benefits).
* Currently, if a senior files a federal tax return as an "individual" and his/her combined income is between $25,000 and $34,000, they may have to pay income tax on up to 50 percent of their benefits. If that combined income is greater than $34,000, up to 85 percent of their benefits may be taxable.
* If a senior files a joint return, and the couple has a combined income that is between $32,000 and $44,000, they may have to pay income tax on up to 50 percent of their benefits. If that combined income is greater than $44,000, up to 85 percent of their benefits may be taxable.
Upon co-sponsoring these bills, Congressman Ross said, "Taxing a Social Security benefit is unconscionable. Seniors have paid taxes their entire lives into the Social Security Trust Fund to finance this benefit. Paying taxes on benefits already paid for by payment of past taxes is as absurd as it sounds. In addition, this tax provides no incentive for future retirees to put money away in IRAs or 401k's because the government penalizes you for planning ahead. It is wrong and I hope Democrats and Republicans can join together to repeal this tax."
Congressman Ross has also sponsored the Seniors' Tax Simplification Act of 2011. This would instruct the Secretary of the Treasury to create a tax filing form specifically for seniors, regardless of where the income comes from. New Form 1040SR would simplify filing requirements for seniors by making social security benefits, distributions from retirement plans and other income common to seniors more easily reportable.
While working to preserve Social Security, Congressman Ross has been involved in the effort to save Medicare from bankruptcy and the $500 billion in cuts Obamacare has in store for seniors.
Specifically, Congressman Ross has co-sponsored the State Health Care Flexibility Act of 2011. This legislation would allow States to opt out of the most damaging portions of Obamacare to seniors and allow the State of Florida to create its own health care system to serve seniors.
In addition, Congressman Ross has co-sponsored legislation to reform Medicare through a "Premium Support" system of payments. This system would provide seniors with the same medical plan Members of Congress and federal employees receive, while vastly reducing the costs of the program to taxpayers. Instead of the cumbersome and fraud riddled system of fee-for-service, the "Premium Support" system would offer seniors a variety of private health plan choices, similar to Medicare Advantage, and the government would pay the premium. This would give seniors greater choice, doctors would receive better payment, and the federal budget deficit will be vastly reduced.
Congressman Ross has also co-sponsored three Balanced Budget Amendments that, if enacted, would benefit current and future seniors. At present, the federal government has "borrowed" $2.5 trillion from the Social Security Trust Fund. In addition, Medicare continues to rapidly rise in cost. If the federal budget was balanced, and the debt was being paid off, this would save the taxpayers over $400 billion per year. Over the last ten years alone, taxpayers have paid over $4 trillion in interest on the nation debt. That $4 trillion could be used to shore up Social Security or increase the "Premium Support" for seniors on Medicare.
In discussing these legislative priorities, Congressman Ross said, "Our seniors left us a country better than they found it. It is now up to us to keep our promises to those who sacrificed for us, while at the same time, leaving the next generation an America better than we found it. It is a moral imperative to pay off our debts, stop stealing from Social Security, and confront the sponsors of the status quo, and fix Medicare. Our choices are political courage vs. politics as usual - bold futures vs. bankruptcy. I stand with those who believe America is an incredible place, where free markets and free people created the greatest country ever known to man."
Dennis Ross, son of Bill and Loyola Ross, was born in 1959 and raised in Lakeland, Florida. He graduated from Auburn University and the Cumberland School of Law at Sanford University. He has served as in-house counsel to the Walt Disney Company and as an associate of the law firm of Holland & Knight. He previously served in the Florida Legislature from 2000 until being term limited in 2008. Dennis and his wife, Cindy Hartley, were married in 1983 and have two sons, Shane and Travis.
In the 112th Congress, Dennis will serve on the Committee on Oversight & Government Reform (Chairman of the Federal Workforce, Postal Service & Labor Policy Subcommittee) as well as the Education & the Workforce and Judiciary Committees.