As expected, the $250 one-time benefit sought by Democrats for Social Security recipients has become a talking point in the campaign. Both Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid have committed their chambers to a vote on the bill in the lame-duck session, with strong support from the President. But the lack of support caucus-wide in the Senate may throw a wrench into this plan:
“Instead of helping seniors,” Pelosi’s office said, “Republicans, backed by their allies on Wall Street, are threatening to privatize and cut Social Security, just as they tried to do under President Bush.”
Added Reid, “The only thing standing in the way of America’s seniors receiving this critical support are Senate Republicans.”
Actually, 12 Democrats and one independent who aligns himself with Democrats joined 37 Republicans in blocking the $250 bonus when Senate voted on the issue last March. Two of the Senate Democrats who voted against it then, Michael Bennet of Colorado and Russ Feingold of Wisconsin, are engaged in tough campaign battles to keep their seats.
Those votes would probably change if the legislation were paid for. The benefit for the roughly 58 million recipients of Social Security would cost about $14 billion. When the Senate brought up the bill last time, they didn’t offset the spending, and thus it failed. Bennet, Feingold and many others would probably come back to the fold, in that case. In fact, Bennet has vowed to support the measure as long as it’s paid for.
You may see the carried interest loophole come back into play here. The compromise hashed out as part of the tax extenders bill, which eventually never passed, would have saved the government around $18 billion, by ensuring that investment fund managers pay taxes on their income as income and not capital gains.
Whatever the case, Republicans in key races could be put on the spot about their support for seniors, sure to be the largest voting bloc in the midterm elections.