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As of June 30 there may be no job opportunities left for older workers as the U.S. Department of Labor is terminating Operation Mainstream and the title IX appropriation of $12 million is on the administration's rescission list. These two moves will leave over 12,000 older poor people without a job, and, in reality, without any hope of ever earning a living for themselves again. During good times the regular labor market didn't want them and now with so many unemployed people, they will never stand a chance even to do vital much-needed community service work.
It is disturbing that 2 years after the fact title IX is not securely funded at a level that would enable it to pick up the Operation Mainstream enrollees who will be terminated in 5 short months. The delaying tactics used by the Department of Labor to stop the commencement of title IX and their continued fight to kill this good program is a discredit to our country.
The national council was ready to begin putting title IX in operation in 1973 and once the Department of Labor decided to administer part of the title IX program it took us only a few weeks to have all the local projects operating and hiring older people who would begin to proudly call themselves senior aides. However, during the year that elapsed between passage of the act and finally putting the program in operation, the Department of Labor tried many techniques to stop this program from ever seeing the light of day.
: First, of course, the administration never requested any funds for the program. Congress did appropriate $10 million for fiscal year 1974 in December 1973. In February 1974, the administration, in a fiscal year 1974 Supplemental Request for the Comprehensive Emplovment and Training Act, tried to weave title IX into CETA and Assistant Secretary Kolberg testified during the next month that the $10 million already appropriated was a one-time, one-shot appropriation and that the money would be given to the State CETÀ prime sponsors even though the Senate report to the appropriations bill said national contractors of older worker programs were to be primarily used to administer the new title IX program.
In the second supplemental, the House report of April 1974, contained the same direction for the Department of Labor to use national contractors. Then in late April 1974 the Department of Labor finally released draft regulations for title IX and they gave the States first priority for the funds.
In May the Senate report to the second supplemental appropriations came out with language directing the Secretary to primarily use national contractors as their tried and proven approach of administering these programs was superior. The Department of Labor still didn't amend its regulations. The conference report to the second supplemental directed the Department of Labor to use national contractors for the title IX program.
Finally, the Department of Labor understood congressional intent and the $10 million was released to national contractors on June 28, 1974, but the new Federal regulations said the use of national contractors was only for fiscal year 1974 funds and in future years, the regulation state, priority is to be given to organizations such as State and local agencies responsible for administering grants and programs under CETA.
There it is, a full circle, a complete runaround.
Not to be daunted, congressional advocates for older workers picked up the ball and again appropriated $12 million for title IX for fiscal year 1975 with language in the appropriation reports again directing the Department of Labor to primarily use national contractors. Once more the Department of Labor came around and stated that the national contractors would be used to operate the title IX program for fiscal year 1975. However, the Department of Labor wants to impound the $12 million appropriated for fiscal year 1975 and it has yet to change the title IX regulations to reflect congressional intent for administration of the program.
I have, Mr. Chairman, in my right hand here a complete list of rescissions and referrals as issued by the White House Press secretary and as justification for the $12 million rescission of the title IX program it says:
This proposed rescission is in recognition of the existence of the identical authority under the Comprehensive Employment and Training Act and adequate funding in the Comprehensive Manpower Assistance CAMA account.
It says, “We are upping the $12 million for rescission because you have a program in Operation Mainstream and have already pushed that program from Operation Mainstream to CETA," where in all of the programs which the national council has, and it is not much better than any of the other national contractors, only one of some 54 programs had got a possible chance of being picked up by a prime sponsor. In other words, there will be no program for national contractors. There will be no program for the elderly under the CETA program and yet the $12 million proposed for rescission is because it exists.
For the next part of my testimony from pages 6 through 15 I am sure most of you sitting on this distinguished panel will want to understand at least why we believe Congress has supported national contractors as the administrators of older worker's programs and we have gone through quite a number of pages in this testimony, which I hope you will get a chance to look at, to say why we believe it is so important that the national contractors who feel and work for elderly and understand many facets of elderly employment and who care should be entrusted with this work ratlier than people who don't really care and resent the program.
It would seem that as our country's budget is under a terrible strain, that every effort should be made to get the most out of each and every dollar. No matter who operates these programs, there will be admiristrative overhead. And, as you heard yesterday from one of the national contractors, the fact is the national contractors operate these programs at administrative costs which are much less than operated at under the Department of Labor or any other way,
The programs of the National Council of Senior Citizens are operated at an administrative cost of just over 8 percent, Mr. Chairman, and that is unmatched anywhere in the field.
But in 1973, when both the regional offices of the Department of Labor and the national contractors were operating programs under Operation Mainstream, the national contractors' costs were almost $1.000 less per man-year.
Our recommendations as to what this Congress should do with regard to the older people's programs in the Older Americans Act appear on page 16.
In order to carry this forward we recommend that title IX be amended to:
1. Direct the Manpower Administration and the Administration on Aging to draw up a working agreement between the two parties so that the programs will benefit from both manpower and aging knowledge of the need of older workers nationally and regionally, and from new research and development in these fields.
We regret the marked reluctance and antagonism expressed by the Department of Labor toward the older worker under the current administration. We think the Department's complete and utter discrimination against the older worker could be lessened if the Administration on Aging were able to help guide and direct this program. However, we do feel that as this is, first, an employment program, that it should be housed in the Department of Labor with direction from the Administration on Aging.
2. Specify that the present national contractor's technical and practical skills and abilities be primarily used to continue and expand the older workers programs so that high performance levels are maintained.
3. Authorize funding levels of at least $100 million for fiscal year 1976, $150 million for fiscal year 1977 and $200 million for fiscal year 1978. Full funding of these minimum authorization levels is mandatory to permit a rapid expansion of this program throughout the Nation in both rural and urban areas so that more than a minor fraction of older workers might benefit from this excellent older workers community service employment program. The 12,674 part-time work opportunities now available is the only special effort directed to older workers in this country and it is a gross mistake to discontinue or limit a proven effective program when there is no other opportunity available for the unemployed older persons of our Nation besides poverty, isolation and uselessness.
Now must be the time when Congress takes a firm stand to make title IX a part of this country's efforts to stop the deterioration of older people's lives. This administration has been trying to kill these effective senior citizens community service programs. This administration will continue to thwart every effort until it recognizes that lawmakers are serious about providing work opportunities for older Americans and are tired of having the laws they enact ignored by the White House.
The administration's latest move-rescission of the $12 million appropriation for title IX for fiscal year 1975—-was no surprise to us in light of their continued arbitrary policy not to serve the older workers in our country.
As late as January 13, 1975, the Department of Labor was answering congressional inquiries regarding the title IX and Operation Mainstream Older Workers program with a standard statement upholding congressional intent in regard to the title IX program. Their letters stated :
With respect to the senior community service employment program under title IX of the Older Americans Act, the Department will, in accordance with congres. sional intent, continue to award appropriated funds primarily to the five national organizations presently involved with this program. These are, it should be noted, the same five organizations involved with the NOWP-OM. For reference, the fire organizations under Operation Mainstream are the National Council of Senior Citizens, the National Farmers Union, the National Council on the Aging, the National Retired Teachers Association, and the USDA Forest Service.
Suddenly last Thursday we heard that the Department of Labor had put a halt to these form letters and changed their public policy to reflect their ongoing opposition to these good programs and title IX was put on the rescission list.
The National Council of Senior Citizens respectfully urges that Congress come to the aid of older unemployed Americans and rewrite title IX to require the Department of Labor to uphold its responbilities to this segment of our society. The Congress can insure responsible action on the part of the Department of Labor by requiring that it be guided by a working agreement with the Administration on Aging, that the national contractors are continued as they have proven to be the most effective method of assistance to the older worker, and that recommended funding levels are actively and fully supported.
These recommendations are backed by all national contractors of the Operation Mainstream and title IX programs who have had to spend much valuable time fighting the Department of Labor's constant harassment of this only special effort on behalf of the unemployed older American, who looks for a way to keep himself out of the abyss of poverty, uselessness and hopelessness. These people, our Nation's older citizens, need your strong support now.
Although the thrust of our statement has been directed at the critical title IX program, the national council is obviously concerned with the entire Older Americans Act.
We are outraged at the Ford administration proposals for this keystone act.
To properly analyze the administration proposals presented by Commissioner of Aging, Dr. Flemming, they must be studied in the context of the total Ford program and worsening economy.
The Ford program of such ill-conceived features as legislated ceilings for social security and other retirement income programs, skyrocketing prices for heating oils, gasoline, et cetera, severe cutbacks proposed for medicare and scheduled cuts for food stamps, and nutrition programs are adding tremendous anxiety to the lives of older Americans already burdened by severe inflation.
We note when the President is proposing, for example, a $1.3 billion cutback in medicare programs, there is no suggestion that the young worker who is paying his contribution, social security contributions to pay for those programs, that he should cut back because the benefits are not going to be given to older people. This is all part of the great mystery of the unified defense budget, which if the funds are not spent from social security trust funds for the purpose for which created, then they show up as a surplus in the President's budget; and it is the same proposal with regard to limiting our older people to a 5-percent increase in social security.
In fact, by July 1, there will be an increase of 12.7 percent in the cost of living since we last got an increase for social security beneficiaries last July. There will be actually a cost of living increase of 12.7 percent under the formula which Congress proposed quickly in December 1973, when that last increase was given, the formula must be continued on a 9-month basis. So, on a 9-month basis only 9 percent has been offered.
The President wants to reduce that to only 5 percent, leaving the surplus which is going into the trust fund as a surplus in his hudret. I hope that Congress will not follow such very, very bad advice, such advice, which as I say right now people are being squeezed into an economic vise between recession and inflation. The toughest of all is for these poor people, millions of elderly people, who are living on social security and SSI, many of them who are having not only wave after wave of propaganda against social security sent at them, but now there is a subject “they are harming the country because they happen to be poor," they happen to be poor and therefore subject to a transfer program and it is the cost of these transfer programs which are, after all, going to put the Nation down the drain if you believe these statements.
That is my statement and it has all been submitted.
[Prepared statement follows:] PREPARED STATEMENT BY WILLIAM R. HUTTON, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, NATIONAL
COUNCIL OF SENIOR CITIZENS, WASHINGTON, D.C. Mr. Chairman, members of the Select Committee on Education. I am William R. Hutton, Executive Director of the National Council of Senior Citizens, Our national headquarters office is at 1511 K Street, N.W., Washington, D.C.
The National Council is a non-profit, non-partisan organization of over 3,000 older people's clubs in all states. We are the country's largest organization of senior citizen's clubs.
The National Council is proud of its history—an organization initially built to gain passage of Medicare—and we are equally proud of our sustained efforts to build a better life for the old and the young of America. Our members are primarily those people who have worked hard all their lives to support themselves and their descendants and have a continuing sense of community and national pride.
Many older Americans find that their meager Social Security or SSI benefits do not afford them decent food and shelter. These people however, do not really wish to collect welfare if they can possibly avoid it. They would rather work several hours a day to provide for themselves like they have in times past be fore their age became an artiticial barrier to their obtaining work. These elderly Americans-particularly those who have read reports of senior citizen community service programs under Title IX or Operation Vainstream--would like to have such a program to provide opportunities for working in their own home town. The National Council has over 1,200 formal requests from communities in all 50 states for a Senior AIDES program. Requests from individuals fill several feet of filing space. Many older people who write for jobs do not belong to the National Council and are consequently not aware that only a few communities in our country are able to provide some work opportunities to older people,
The National Council of Senior Citizens is therefore, extremely concerned with Tit IX of the Older Americans Comprehensive Services Amendments of 1973.
Two years ago when this Title, the Older American Community Service Employment Act, became law, the National Council had high hopes that, at last, many older poor Americans would have a choice--a choice between welfare and a job, a choice between loneliness and involvement, a choice between worthlessness and usefulness, a choice between desperate poverty and making ends meet. a choice between hopelessness and hopefulness.
Title IX. modeled after the very successful Operation Mainstream Older Workers Program, was viewed by us as the Title that could have an impact on manı problems in the aging field.
Title IX would offer an opportunity for able bodied older people to help themselves. It would give them a chance to keep their dignity because they were working for a living, as most good Americans must do to keep their place in society. Art Buchnld's recent comment on our country's work ethic rings true. “We're been told for such a long time that the onlr neonlo in this country who are unemplored are those who are laze, shiftless and don't give a damn. In America, not haring a job makes you an outcast ..."
Title I would be a useful tool to breaking down the barriers and myths that koen senior citizens from being treated as part of our society. The vast array of jnhs that could be initiated under Title IX would put seniors in contact with all ages of people in their communities. The older person would be portrayed in an