Ask Congress to End the Government Shut Down and Avoid the Debt Meltdown
Major Events Last Week
Budget & Appropriations – Negotiations on the Government Shutdown and Debt Ceiling
Move to the Senate
After discussions between the White House and the House of Representatives failed to end the stalemate
over shutting down the government, the Senate met throughout the weekend to develop a plan to end the
government shutdown and ensure that the federal government can pay its bills by raising the debt ceiling.
The White House, the Senate Majority Leader, and the House Minority Leader have been steadfast that
the government must re-open and be able to pay its bills before any negotiations on the broader fiscal
issues begin. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY)
appear to be searching for a plan that could gain sufficient support from their respective parties. Among
the issues that could be included in a Senate deal are several that are important to the disability
community – the spending levels for discretionary programs if the government is reopened (whether at
or above the levels of the automatic across-the-board spending cuts); funding for and implementation
of the Affordable Care Act; “entitlement reform” including per person caps in Medicaid, means testing
in Medicare, and the use of a different measure of inflation (the Chained consumer price index (CPI)) that
would result in lower cost of living increases for Social Security and other programs; and revenue increases.
Meanwhile, anxiety is growing in the financial markets over the looming deadline of October 17, the date by
which the U.S. is predicted to no longer be able to meet its financial obligations. While there is bi-partisan
agreement that failure to act on the debt ceiling would have a disastrous effect on the U.S. economy, the
path forward is unclear. If the federal government defaults on its financial obligations, the ability to
operate critical lifeline programs such as Medicaid, Medicare, and Social Security would be threatened.
While these programs have been shielded from the worst impact of the federal government shutdown,
they are at risk if the government cannot pay its bills.
Social Security – Senate Hearing on Social Security Disability Benefits
Last week, the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee held a hearing on
“Social Security Disability Benefits: Did a Group of Judges, Doctors, and Lawyers Abuse Programs
for the Country’s Most Vulnerable?” The hearing focused on the Committee’s investigation of a very
serious and shocking situation of alleged collusion between a claimants’ attorney, an Administrative
Law Judge, and others in Social Security’s Huntington, WV hearing office. Visit the Committee web site
to view video of the hearing.
Social Security – Another Troubling Media Story on Social Security Disability
On October 6th CBS’ 60 Minutes aired a piece they dubbed “Disability, USA” in which they perpetuated
many of the same myths and inaccuracies seen in other media coverage earlier this year. The Arc is
deeply concerned that to press the panic button on the funding stream for Social Security Disability
Insurance (SSDI) is irresponsible. We’re discouraged to see 60 Minutes join other national media in
reporting that puts people who rely on these programs to survive on edge – especially when the truth is
much less sensational but also much more interesting. Learn more about the story and get the facts
on Social Security disability on The Arc’s blog.
Health Care – Resources Available on The Arc’s Website
The Arc wants to make sure you have the most up to date resources and information about the
Affordable Care Act (ACA). We have been updating our Health Care page on our website, and urge you
to use our toolkit that will help educate individuals about the benefits of the ACA and how to support
outreach and enrollment.