On Wednesday, a panel discussion and press conference were held to examine Social Security’s role in the retirement income crisis. Representatives from groups such as AARP, the Economic Policy Institute, the Alliance for Retired Americans, and others joined with congressional leaders to advocate for one opinion that an overwhelming majority of Americans hold: Social Security benefits should not be cut.
Social Security is the one program that the overwhelming majority of Americans are in agreement. In a recent study conducted by the National Academy of Social Insurance, over 72% of all Americans have a favorable view of Social Security. In addition, a petition made in conjunction with Campaign for America’s Future has already gathered nearly 500,000 signatures urging Congress to reject all Social Security cuts.
Many Americans depend on Social Security just to survive. In the same NASI study, 87% of all Americans state that Social Security will be important to their monthly income when they retire. Among current beneficiaries, 96% say that Social Security is crucial to their monthly income.
Even so, Republicans continue to push for legislation that reduces vital Social Security benefits. The chained CPI is a benefit cut that drastically threatens the income of all those who rely on Social Security.
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Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), said at the press conference that the chained-CPI is “not some kind of a little tweak.” Sanders commented that if chained CPI went into effect today, “a senior aged 65 would receive $658 a year less in Social Security benefits when he/she is 75, and $1,100 a year less at age 85.”
Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) spoke about bill S. 567: Strengthening Social Security Act of 2013. The bill is designed to “improve the retirement of American families by strengthening Social Security.” Harkin and other congressional leaders call for a “scrap on the cap,” in which the wealthiest Americans would pay the same tax rate as middle class families, eliminating concerns about Social Security’s long-term financing. According to Social Security Works, it would lead to benefits for current and future retirees improving, and would help more “seniors, children, and the families of American workers out of poverty.”
The American people agree that Social Security benefits should not be cut. Rep. Alan Grayson (D-NY), closed his remarks with a resounding question: “Why are we even contemplating these acts if they’re not something the American people want?”