Apr 05, 2017
Legislation that would expand benefits for Social Security recipients while giving millions of seniors a tax break was re-introduced in the U.S. House on Wednesday, with support from over two-thirds of the Democratic caucus--and, its backers hope, from large swaths of the grassroots resistance movement.
Rep. John Larson's (D-Conn.) bill, the "Social Security 2100 Act" or H.R. 1902, bears more co-sponsors than any other previous proposal to expand Social Security.
It "gives lie to the myth that Social Security is going bankrupt and the only way to save it is by cutting benefits and raising the retirement age," said National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare president Max Richtman upon its unveiling. "This legislation asks the wealthy to start paying their fair share so that current and future retirees know that Social Security is there for them well into the future--solid, strong, and uncompromised."
According to Larson's office, Social Security 2100 would:
- Provide an increase for all beneficiaries starting in 2018 that is the equivalent of 2 percent of the average benefit;
- Improve the annual cost of living adjustment (COLA) formula to better reflect the costs incurred by seniors through adopting a [consumer price index for the elderly or CPI-E] formula;
- Set the new minimum benefit will be at 25 percent above the poverty line and index it to wages to ensure that the minimum benefit does not fall behind;
- Cut taxes for over 11 million Social Security beneficiaries;
- Have millionaires and billionaires pay the same rate as everyone else by applying the payroll tax to wages above $400,000 (currently payroll taxes are not collected on wages over $127,200);
- Gradually phase in an increase in the contribution rate beginning in 2019 so that by 2042, workers and employers would pay 7.4 percent (instead of 6.2 percent today).
Nancy Altman, president of advocacy group Social Security Works (which was live-tweeting Wednesday's press conference), said the "landmark" legislation "wisely responds to several challenges facing the nation. These include a looming retirement income crisis, a growing squeeze on middle class families, and rising income inequality." Other groups present at the bill's introduction included disability rights organization The Arc, the non-profit Center for Global Policy Solutions, and Justice in Aging, which fights poverty among the elderly.
In a Facebook Live interview with the National Committee this week, Larson said he hopes the bill will ride the wave of grassroots energy that defeated the GOP healthcare plan last month.
"What we saw was people saying, 'Wait a minute, keep your hands off my healthcare'," he said. "It's the same with Social Security. We want to continue to build a groundswell in this country." Larson also noted, as others have for months, that President Donald Trump campaigned on a promise to protect Social Security--and that voters will be paying attention to see if Trump and his team break that pledge.
Altman spoke to these political considerations on Wednesday:
\u201cThe country is polarized on many issues, but Social Security isn't one of them. Americans want to see expansion, not cuts. - Nancy Altman\u201d— Social Security Works (@Social Security Works) 1491413792
\u201cIf Republicans really represented their constituents, #secure2100 bill to expand Social Security would pass easily. - Nancy Altman\u201d— Social Security Works (@Social Security Works) 1491413836
The full list of 156 co-sponsors is here.
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