Last month, I wrote a post that generated a lot of debate about a petition that was started on the White House’s “We the People” website to eliminate the Government Pension Offset (GPO) and the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP). To put it mildly, readers of our site had some strong opinions on the subject as reflected by the volume of comments on the original post.
So as the deadline for this petition draws near (it’s tomorrow), how is it faring and is it going to get a response from the White House?
In a word: No. The petition has absolutely no chance of generating a response as it is nowhere near the minimum 100,000 signatures required and the deadline is tomorrow, March 23. It only has 3,553 signatures as of the time of this writing.
However, for those who were hoping for better news, all hope is not lost. The subject is timely because the House Ways and Means Committee just held a hearing today on reforming WEP and GPO.
A press release from the House Committee about the hearing suggests that hearing’s primary purpose was largely to garner support for repealing these two measures from those who oppose them.
This quote from the Committee’s Chairman, Kevin Brady (R-TX), sums up the general tenor from the press release:
Since 2004, I have worked to repeal the WEP and replace it with a formula that treats our firefighters, police officers, teachers, and other affected workers fairly … Under our approach … No more unfair formula for teachers, firefighters and police officers. Instead, we use the same benefit formula for everyone, looking at all earnings.
Brady is a proponent of reforming WEP. In 2015, he introduced a reform bill called the Equal Treatment of Public Servants Act (H.R. 711). Among other things, this bill would reduce the penalty on a federal employee’s Social Security benefits. NARFE has a good summary of the bill on their website.
NARFE president Richard G. Thissen said of the bill, “NARFE is encouraged by the ongoing various reform efforts, particularly with regard to H.R. 711. This bill would help mitigate the WEP penalty by providing some relief for both current beneficiaries through a rebate and future Social Security recipients by improving the formula going forward. This relief is long past due but would be very much appreciated by individuals who are being penalized for their public service.”
As for what comes next, Brady called the hearing “an important first step” and said that the Committee will continue to move towards a solution that makes sure everyone is treated equally.