Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH)
Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH)
Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) had high hopes for passage of his proposed measure that would have given all senior citizens a one-time payment of $250. However, the bill fell short of the needed support in votes in both the House and the Senate on Wednesday.

This marks the second year in a row that the idea has fallen flat in Washington D. C. On Wednesday, the House managed only a 254-153 affirmative vote, which was short of the needed two-thirds to move ahead. The story was the same in the Senate where that body voted 53-45 on a measure which would have brought the Social Security supplement bill to the Senate floor for debate. The measure needed 60 votes to continue through the process.

In a teleconference earlier in the day on Wednesday, Brown had praised the value of the Social Security program and bashed Republicans and the recent tax cut deal agreed to by President Obama.

"We know that Social Security... probably no other government program has lifted more people out of poverty. It used to be in this country that the elderly were the poorest people in our poorest segment of society. Now they aren't. That's because we have done Social Security, and we have done Medicare," Brown declared. "My Republican colleagues oppose it because they say we can't afford it, but at the same time they're arguing for a $700 billion tax cut for people making over $250,000."

The bill was designed to provide additional funds to seniors since Social Security is not giving a cost of living increase for the coming year because of the low rate of inflation.

Brown cited a 2007 study put out by the Committee for Medicare and Medicaid Services which claimed that 45 percent of a senior citizen's Social Security check is spent on health care. By extension, Brown thinks that the inflation that has hit the health care industry is hurting seniors more than younger Americans.

The price tag for the bill would have been $13 billion -- an amount that Brown tried to justify by comparing it to the figure he attached to the tax cuts. He also stressed the one-time nature of the payout.

He stated, "The reason that's less troubling than it might be on the surface, it's not a tax cut for the rich that is built into the system. It's a one-time vote. It doesn't cause a systemic budget deficit. It's a one-time expenditure. So it's not added every year and puts us in a position where we can't get out of it."

Brown's bill would not have come with any means testing, instead giving the money to any seniors receiving Social Security checks. He compared the $250 payouts to unemployment insurance payments, saying that the money would be spent, and in so doing, helping the local economy. According to Brown, the economic impact would be better than the tax cuts.

"More than a million Ohio seniors are lifted out of poverty because they have Social Security benefits," Brown asserted. "The average benefit for a Social Security recipient last year was $14,000 -- not a lot to live on if that's all you have. Most seniors have something else, but most seniors don't have a lot else, so this check each month is a really, really, really big deal to people."

In the House vote, 26 Republicans voted for the bill, while 141 opposed it. Democrats were in favor, 228-12.

This marks the second year that Social Security recipients are not receiving a cost of living adjustment, however in 2009, seniors got a 5.8 percent increase, thanks mostly to soaring gasoline prices that reached above $4 per gallon in many areas of the country.

Brown also had more harsh words about the tax deal, saying that he thinks Obama did not negotiate well with the Republicans. "I want the president to live up to his campaign promise," he said pointedly. The senator also revealed that he could change his mind, but at the present time he plans on voting no on the tax cuts. "I hope we can get something better," he said.