Posts Tagged ‘tax bill’

CALL SENATORS: Tax bill could wipe out RRB unemployment/sick fund

The Republican tax bill that is being voted on today has the potential to wipe out Railroad Retirement Board-administered unemployment and sickness benefits.

This is your last chance to call and tell your senators to VOTE NO.

A call to action posted by SMART Transportation Division last week told you about $9 million in potential cuts to that RRB benefit if sequestration – mandatory cuts – are triggered in 2018 by the increased debt that the tax plan will bring.

Now an updated analysis by the RRB warns that unchecked sequestration can result in that fund being “zeroed out.”

Under the federal “Pay-As-You-Go” (PAYGO) Act of 2010, federal spending is required to balance or offset any increases to the federal budget deficit (also known as sequestration). As a result, the tax bill would trigger automatic budget cuts across all federal programs including the RRB’s Railroad Unemployment Trust Fund, which is targeted for a 6.6 percent cut or approximately $9 million in the 2018 fiscal year by the administration.

If Congress does not act to avert sequestration run amok, said RRB labor member counsel Michele Neuendorf in an email, pay for sick or unemployed rail workers will be gone.

“Essentially, if PAYGO goes into effect and there is 100% sequestration, there could be 100% reduction in benefits, meaning that these benefits to railroaders will be zeroed out,” she wrote.

Sick and unemployed rail workers may have paid in, but they’ll lose out. The RRB says in its report:

“These benefits are subject to sequestration. Current sickness and unemployment benefits are set at a maximum of $72.00 per day or $720.00 per two-week or 10-day claim period. However, this benefit rate has been reduced by sequestration in effect since FY 2013 due to the Budget Control Act of 2011. The actual maximum benefit currently paid is $672.48 per 10-day claim period which is a 6.6% reduction…

“Any further reduction resulting from another sequestration would significantly degrade the benefit protections enacted by Congress and harm those employees suffering either unemployment or sickness. For example, if 100% sequestration is triggered by PAYGO rules, railroad employees eligible for sickness and unemployment benefits would receive nothing. Their benefit payments would zero out.”

So someone might be getting a gift from this tax bill this holiday, but it’s not our ailing brothers and sisters or those who are out of work.

Call your senators and urge them to vote against the tax bill.

Find out who your members of Congress are by accessing the SMART-TD Legislative Action Center or call the U.S. Capitol switchboard at (202) 224-3121.

Read a PDF of the RRB’s analysis.

ACTION NEEDED: Tax bill takes away from unemployment fund

The Republican tax bill would result in millions of dollars in cuts to the Railroad Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund and take funds away from out-of-work employees. Tell your senators and representatives to VOTE NO.

Next week, the House and Senate are expected to vote on a tax bill that is expected to add $1.5 trillion to $2 trillion to the federal deficit in the form of corporate and individual tax cuts. According to estimates, the Railroad Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund could lose as much as $9 million without any subsequent action by Congress under a 2010 budget process known as sequestration.

“Required spending reductions would significantly exceed the total resources available to be sequestered,” said Michele Neuendorf, a Railroad Retirement Board (RRB) labor member counsel, in an email. “This would have the practical result of a 100% sequestration of all non-exempt direct spending accounts including the funds from the Railroad Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund which is used to pay unemployment and sickness benefits.”

Under the federal “Pay-As-You-Go” (PAYGO) Act of 2010, federal spending is required to balance or offset any increases to the federal budget deficit (also known as sequestration). As a result, the tax bill would trigger automatic budget cuts across all federal programs including the RRB’s Railroad Unemployment Trust Fund, which is targeted for a 6.6 percent cut or approximately $9 million in the 2018 fiscal year by the administration.

“This tax proposal is Robin Hood caught in reverse,” said SMART Transportation Division National Legislative Director John Risch. “It would take from the poor and give to the rich. If the tax bill becomes law, the railroads will still be able to deduct money that they spend on union-busting lawyers while our members will no longer be able to deduct their union dues. The corporate tax rate for the big railroads will go from 35% to 21% while ours will stay the same with fewer deductions.”

It also means that $9 million intended for ailing and unemployed rail workers doesn’t go where it was supposed to. Instead it will go into the pockets of corporations and the well-to-do.

“Every person in America should be outraged that the Republican tax bill will borrow $1.5 trillion to $2.5 trillion to fund tax cuts for the wealthy while leaving no room for future federal investments toward infrastructure projects such as airports, transit systems, and passenger railroads,” Risch said. “I’ve been in the business of government policy since the 1980s and this is simply the worst tax proposal I have ever seen. Economists across the political spectrum are condemning this plan and the Republicans are so desperate for some sort of ‘win’ they are moving forward with little to no transparency or accountability to their constituents.”

Time is running out. A vote is planned for next week. Call your senators and representatives and urge them to vote against the tax bill.

Find out who your members of Congress are by accessing the SMART-TD Legislative Action Center or call the U.S. Capitol switchboard at (202) 224-3121.