– At a press conference in Bangor, with a number of Maine Seniors and a Veteran in attendance, Congressman Bruce Poliquin (ME-02) announced his new bill that will ensure Seniors and retired Veterans receive the Social Security benefits they have worked for, earned and deserve.
Congressman Poliquin’s Guaranteed COLA Act ensures Seniors and Veterans receive a “cost-of-living adjustment,” or COLA, increase for their Social Security of at least 1.5% in 2018, while also eliminating wasteful spending for unused government buildings.
Congressman Poliquin released the following statement:
“Many of our Seniors and retired Veterans in Maine rely on their Social Security benefits for everyday items, like groceries or gas,” said Congressman Poliquin. “The prices of these goods continue to go up each year, but our retirees’ Social Security benefits haven’t kept up in recent years. My commonsense legislation will ensure that our Seniors and retired Veterans are given the increase in their Social Security benefits that they’ve earned, while also cutting wasteful spending for government buildings that have been lying vacant and unused but continue to cost taxpayers to maintain.
“Our Seniors and our Veterans deserve the Social Security benefits they’ve worked for, earned and deserve.”
About the bill:
Congressman Poliquin’s Guaranteed COLA Act will make certain that Social Security recipients are given a COLA increase of at least 1.5% in 2018. The bill instructs the federal government to sell unused, dormant government buildings and properties for any additional funding to compensate for the COLA increase.
Many retirees, both Seniors and Veterans, rely on their Social Security benefits, which they have paid into their entire lives and rightfully earned. The COLA is designed to compensate for yearly cost increases for basic items—like groceries or gas. However, in recent years retirees have seen little or no COLA increase.
This year, in 2017, there was only a modest increase of 0.3% (roughly $4 for the average Social Security recipient), while the year before, in 2016, there was no COLA increase at all for Seniors and Veterans.
This bill guarantees that Seniors and Veterans will receive at least a 1.5% COLA increase in 2018. If the COLA formula projects any increase less than 1.5%, this bill makes up the difference, ensuring that retirees are receiving at least 1.5%.
The money is generated by selling unused, dormant government buildings and properties, which are actually currently costing taxpayers every year just to maintain. The Guaranteed COLA Act would call for the General Services Administration (GSA), which is the primary federal property manager, to sell excess buildings that have not been set aside for historical preservation.
The COLA was created as a way to compensate for the effects of inflation and routinely rising costs of basic products. The adjustments are calculated every year based on the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W). Generally, as the CPI-W rises, so does the COLA for the next year. However, in some years, the CPI-W does not raise enough to trigger the formula to require a COLA increase.
Since 2010, there have been three years with no COLA increase at all, including in 2016. This year, in 2017, there was just a 0.3% increase, or roughly $4 for the average Social Security recipient nationwide.
In the 2016 Fiscal Year, there were 3,120 government properties deemed “unutilized,” including warehouses, offices, laboratories and dormitories/barracks.