randynSocial Security Rates Rise Slightly for 2017
The monthly Social Security and Supplemental Security Income benefit for beneficiaries will rise by 0.3 percent for 2017. I understand many seniors who rely on Social Security would have liked to see a larger cost-of-living adjustment (COLA), particularly after no COLA was triggered last year. As Social Security recipients know, the annual COLA is based on a consumer price index designed to reflect the change in cost of goods and services purchased by workers with modest incomes during the year. The COLA formula is set in law to ensure benefits increase when prices in the economy increase. I understand many Social Security recipients are also concerned about possible changes in Medicare Part B premiums, which Medicare will announce in the coming weeks, and I will make sure to keep you updated in the Roundup.

As we monitor the Social Security and Medicare adjustments every fall, I am reminded how important it is to protect the long-term stability of these programs. I hear from many beneficiaries across the 19th District concerned about these programs on a regular basis. My response is that no one in Congress is seriously proposing – nor do I not support – changes that affect anyone who is currently age 55 and older. However, if we are to continue providing this safety net for Americans, Congress must reform the programs for younger Americans, despite the many obstacles to doing so.

Spotlight on the House Financial Services Committee
The House Financial Services Committee has the potential to impact not just our nation’s economy as a whole, but individual communities as well. I have worked to protect consumers, small businesses, and community banks within the context of this committee since I joined it in 2005 because I think all too often smaller institutions are not the focus of financial policy discussions.

Since the 2008 financial crisis, the focus of financial services policy has been on some of the largest financial institutions and the creation of more and more intricate regulations. While many larger institutions contributed to the crisis, regulations with steep compliance costs meant to rein in large institutions often end up harming Main Street. Community banks are the lifeblood of many areas in the 19th District, particularly those that rely on agriculture. For a long time now, I have been advocating for ways to get back to relationship banking. More and more, our banks are forced into narrow lending patterns by computer-generated metrics, taking away lenders’ ability to consider other factors and use their best judgment when making loans to farmers, small business owners or families they have known all their lives.

In seeking to put a spotlight on our community banks and credit unions in the context of the House Financial Services Committee, I participated in several full committee hearings. Furthermore, as the Chairman of the Subcommittee on Financial Institutions and Consumer Credit, I convened several hearings to examine the challenges facing consumers, small businesses, and banks, and to study potential solutions. This Congress, our committee has passed more than 70 pieces of legislation, many of them originating in my subcommittee.

In seeking to protect taxpayers from bailing out institutions that are “too big to fail,” some of our regulations have created an environment of “too small to succeed” that has led to an average of one community financial institution closing per day. Through the Financial Services Committee, I have worked hard this year to change that environment. Moving forward, I hope the Financial Services Committee continues to prioritize communities that are most adversely affected by broad, restrictive regulations.