Categorized | Pushback, Your Money

New Bill Could Make Social Security Better For Everyone

House Democratic Caucus Chairman Rep. John B. Larson, D-Conn., talks about jobs and the economy as the House of Representatives returns to work from its winter break, at the Capitol in Washington, Wed., Jan. 18, 2012.   (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

The bill introduced by Rep. John Larson, D-Conn,  includes a tax cut for middle-income seniors and other Social Security beneficiaries who are currently required to pay federal income tax on their benefits. 

By Al Norman

On Jan. 30, the 137th anniversary of FDR’s birth, Rep. John Larson, D-Conn. and 200 cosponsors, introduced the Social Security 2100 Act, which increases benefits for all 63 million current beneficiaries, and for future beneficiaries. It increases the minimum Social Security benefit 25 percent above the poverty line, so that no one who has worked all his or her life has to retire into poverty. The bill adopts a more accurate way of calculating the annual cost of living adjustment, the CPI-E, so that the program’s benefits are not eroded by time, and is solvent for the next 75 years.

The bill includes a tax cut for middle-income seniors and other beneficiaries who are currently required to pay federal income tax on their benefits, and gradually increases the contributions (FICA) of workers and their employers.

Norman

The cap on wages subject to FICA, would rise over 30 years from $132,900, to above $400,000, and the FICA rate of 6.2 percent on employees and employers, would rise by .05 percent a year — 50 cents a week for an average worker in the first year — until it reaches 7.4 percent. The Social Security 2100 Act restores the program to long-range balance through the 21st Century, and beyond.

Nancy Altman, the president of the advocacy group Social Security Works, said the new legislation “will provide perhaps the most important benefit of all: Peace of mind, security, that if disaster strikes in the form of death or disability, Social Security will be there, month after month, providing the economic security we have earned and deserve.”

When FDR signed the original Social Security Act in 1935, he described it as “a cornerstone in the structure,” but he admitted that structure was “by no means complete.” Protections and adjustments have been made over time, like adding survivor’s benefits for children and spouses, and for workers who forced by disabilities out of the workforce.

But for decades there have been critics of the program, like billionaire Pete Peterson, founder of the Blackstone Group, a private equity management firm, who has denigrated Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid as bloated “entitlements” that must be cut back. Many policymakers have accepted the fiction that we can’t afford the program as it now exists — much less consider expanding it. America is the wealthiest country on the planet, and its people deserve a decent retirement and health care system as a priority.

Ninety-nine cents of every dollar collected is paid out as benefits to its members. That’s far more efficient than many private corporations will ever be. Social Security expansion is also a way to address the widening income inequality in our nation.

This is not a partisan issue. In 2016, nearly three out of four (73 percent) of Donald Trump voters, and 71 percent of Hillary Clinton voters said in exit polls that they support the idea that “Social Security benefits should not be reduced.” Two years later, two thirds of voters (66 percent) said they would be more likely to support a candidate who pushed for “expanding and increasing Social Security benefits.”

Yet all 200 cosponsors of the Social Security 2100 Act, are Democrats. All nine Massachusetts Congressmen are sponsors. To see if your Congressman is a sponsor, go to :larson.house.gov/sites/larson.house.gov/files/full percent20release.pdf

It’s time to set partisanship aside for the benefit of those retired, their spouses and children,  and disabled Americans everywhere.

Al Norman worked as an elder advocate in the home care field for 38 years. He can be reached at: alnormaneldercare@gmail.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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