On a warm August day in the middle of the Great Depression, President Roosevelt signed into law bold legislation that would create one of the most popular and reliable federal programs in American history: Social Security. Since 1935, Social Security has provided financial security, independence, and dignity for seniors in their retirement years. It has also assisted millions of people with disabilities and children who lost a parent, as I did. In Central New Jersey 16.6 percent of all residents, including 83,923 retirees, receive on Social Security benefits every month.
Some in Congress want you to believe the program is in dire straits and we must dramatically cut benefits or raise the retirement age. I disagree. I will soon introduce the Strengthening Social Security Act with Representative Linda T. Sánchez (D-CA) to keep the program sound for generations while increasing benefits for those most in need.
Our bill would finally remove the wage cap on payroll taxes so that wealthier Americans would contribute to Social Security at the same rate as teachers and police officers. The legislation would also establish an updated formula for cost-of-living adjustments that actually keeps pace with seniors' daily expenses and would make modest changes to the monthly benefit formula resulting in additional $70 a month for beneficiaries. We do all this as well as actually extending the solvency of Social Security through 2049.
As we prepare to celebrate Social Security's 78th Anniversary this month, we must ensure that Social Security can continue to live up to its obligation to, in the words of President Roosevelt "take care of the human needs and at the same time provide for the United States an economic structure of vastly greater soundness."
A Bad Deal for Students
On President Obama's desk is a bill to address the uncertainty about student loan interest rates. However, the legislation fails to lower interest rates on college loans as much as it could or should and it allows the rates to grow to as high as 10.5 percent. Student loan debt now stands at over $1 trillion and graduatesstrapped with debt cannot make strides to further improve their quality of life.
Senator Elizabeth Warren has it right. Her plan would allow students to borrow at the same rate, that banks do, 0.75 percent. Why should Wall Street be allowed to borrow money at the lowest interest rate while college students pay more? They shouldn't.
Mail Bag on Postal Reform
I continue to hear from constituents who are worried about the future of their mail delivery and the United States Postal Service. Recently, a House committee recently approved -- on a party line vote -- the so-called "Postal Reform Act of 2013", H. R. 2748. I strongly oppose this flawed bill, and will vote against it should it be considered on the floor of the full House. While this bill claims to restore fiscal solvency to the USPS, I am deeply concerned that the bill would actually just dismantle the USPS. It would end six-day delivery and phase out to-the-door delivery which would negatively affect our nation's seniors.
Instead, I am a cosponsor of H.R. 630, the Postal Service Protection Act, which would strengthen the USPS's finances by -- among other measures -- ending a Congressional mandate that currently requires the USPS to prepay its pension obligations at a much higher rate than other public and private organizations.
Cutting Red Tape
I was recently contacted by a constituent from South River whose home was damaged by Hurricane Sandy. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) initially provided her rental assistance to help her get back on her feet, but she continued to struggle financially. After I contacted FEMA on her behalf, she was awarded an additional $4,260 in rental assistance.
If you need help to resolve a problem with a government agency please let me know so I can do everything possible to help. You can call me toll-free at 1-87-RUSH-HOLT (1-877-874-4658) or send me an e-mail at http://holt.house.gov/contact.