October 15th, 2009
05:27 PM ET

$250 for seniors to make up for no Social Security increase?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

President Obama wants to send $250 dollars to 57 million Americans - including seniors, veterans and people with disabilities. 2010 will mark the first year that Social Security benefits don't increase in more than three decades. The cost-of-living adjustment for Social Security, in effect since 1975, is pegged to inflation; but since inflation was negative this year there won't be any increase.

The president says, "we must act on behalf of those hardest hit by this recession," and points to seniors and others who have seen their retirement accounts and home values plummet.

The $250 equals about a two percent increase in benefits for the average person getting Social Security.

It's backed by some key members in Congress. But other lawmakers don't think this is a good idea. The formula used to determine Social Security doesn't call for an increase.

Congress approved a similar $250 payment earlier this year as part of the economic stimulus package.

If it happens, it will cost an estimated $13 billion over 10 years. Mr. Obama says he wouldn't allow the payments to come out of the Social Security trust fund - which is already running in the red. But the president didn't say where the money would come from. Apparently he's open to borrowing the money. Which means it would be added to the deficit.

Here’s my question to you: Should the government pay seniors $250 to make up for no increase in Social Security next year?

Tune in to the Situation Room at 6pm to see if Jack reads your answer on air.

And, we love to know where you’re writing from, so please include your city and state with your comment.

Interested to know which ones made it on air?


Filed under: Government • Social Security
October 15th, 2009
05:00 PM ET

Do away with health insurance industry's antitrust exemption?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

Democrats are pushing back hard against the health insurance companies. As part of the health care reform bill - they want to strip the industry of its antitrust exemption. The industry got a special exemption from the anti trust laws way back in 1945 on the grounds that it didn't participate in interstate commerce.

Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY)

This means that unlike other industries, health insurance companies can discuss pricing, territories and other things that would otherwise be considered collusion. Translation: They make more money and you pay higher premiums. Nice deal - for them.

Senator Chuck Schumer is calling for more competition - and points to statistics that show 94 percent of the nation's insurance markets are "highly concentrated,"and that in almost 40 states, two firms control more than half the market. Schumer says the top 10 companies went from $2 billion to $12 billion in profits in the past decade.

Where has this little factoid been during the health care debate... and what is Congress is waiting for? If this could increase competition and lower prices - why haven't they done something already? Excuse me. I lost my head there for a moment.

The insurance companies insist they are one of "the most regulated industries in America at both the federal and state level." They say this is nothing more than a political ploy. Whatever it is, it's long overdue.

Congress' wrath was triggered by that potentially flawed industry report earlier this week suggesting premiums would rise significantly under the Senate's health reform bill. They're also running TV ads that say seniors would suffer under the Senate plan.

The deal is we all suffer under the health insurance companies' plan. Time to contact your senator or representative... or both.

Here’s my question to you: Should Congress do away with the antitrust exemption enjoyed by the health insurance companies?

Tune in to the Situation Room at 5pm to see if Jack reads your answer on air.

And, we love to know where you’re writing from, so please include your city and state with your comment.

Filed under: Congress • Health care