Posted on 4/6/2017 9:53 AM By NCPSSM
Legislation just introduced in the U.S. House would put extra money in Social Security beneficiaries’ pockets while keeping the system solvent through the rest of this century. Rep. John Larson’s Social Security 2100 Act does all of that and something more: It gives lie to the myth that Social Security is going bankrupt and the only way to fix it is by cutting benefits.
Larson’s solution is simple… and fair. It asks the wealthy to pay their fair share of Social Security payroll taxes. In exchange, the legislation ensures Social Security stays solvent through the year 2100 – with no benefit cuts and no turning over the program to Wall Street, which budget hawks have long dreamed of doing.
The Act provides much needed relief to seniors who are having a difficult time paying for basic expenses like healthcare, housing, and utilities. The bill includes a modest 2% benefit increase for all beneficiaries, higher cost of living adjustments (COLAs), and a tax break for 11 million seniors. Since 2014, the National Committee’s Boost Social Security Now campaign has lobbied Congress to pass expansion legislation on behalf of its millions of members and supporters.
In a Facebook Live interview with the National Committee, Congressman Larson says he hopes his 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.’ It’s the same with Social Security. We want to continue to build a groundswell in this country.” Larson says the bill has already attracted more than 150 cosponsors in the House. The Congressman calls on President Trump to support it, based on his campaign promises to “protect” Social Security.
In order to keep the system solvent through the year 2100, the Larson bill would apply the Social Security payroll tax to wages above $400,000, which only would affect the top 0.4% of wage earners. (Currently, earnings above $127,200 are exempt from the payroll taxes.) Eventually, the cap would be phased out completely. In addition, the legislation would gradually raise the overall payroll tax rate by 1% over 25 years – an increase of only 50 cents per week for a worker making $50,000 per year (or, as Larson himself is fond of pointing out, the price of one Starbucks coffee drink every nine weeks). These financing changes would not only keep Social Security flush, they would allow for a modest 2% benefit increase for all beneficiaries --- and a tax break for 11 million seniors earning under $50,000 a year (or $100,000 for older married couples).
The Larson bill not only provides an increase in benefits, it would help retirees better keep up with inflation by linking cost of living adjustments (COLAs) to an index called the CPI-E (Consumer Price Index for the Elderly). The CPI-E takes into consideration what seniors really spend for crucial goods and services, including housing and medical costs.
The National Committee has enthusiastically endorsed the Social Security 2100 Act. As President and CEO Max Richtman explains, “This bill is a win-win for beneficiaries and the entire country, because it protects the commitment to hard working Americans who pay into the system and enhances benefits.”
Watch Congressman Larson’s full Facebook Live interview here.
Watch the Social Security 2100 Act event on Capitol Hill Facebook Live here.
Posted on 2/17/2017 3:11 PM By NCPSSM
Senator Bernie Sanders and Rep. Peter DeFazio introduced landmark legislation yesterday to keep Social Security solvent for the next six decades --- without cutting anyone’s benefits. The National Committee endorses the bill, titled the Social Security Expansion Act, introduced on the day when the average millionaire reaches the payroll tax income cap of $127,000 per year.
National Committee President Max Richtman joined Senator Sanders, Senator Elizabeth Warren, Rep DeFazio and other dignitaries and advocacy groups on Capitol Hill to mark the day and support the new legislation, which would require high-earners to pay Social Security taxes on annual income over $250,000.
The bill doesn’t “scrap the cap” right away; but for now only income between $127,000 and $250,000 would be exempt from payroll taxes. Eventually the cap would phased out and completely scrapped. The expanded payroll taxes (which only affect the top 1.5% of earners) would keep the Social Security Trust Fund flush until at least 2078.
"We can expand the life of Social Security for 61 years, if we have the guts to tell millionaires and billionaires they’re going to have to pay more in taxes.” – Sen. Bernie Sanders
Senator Warren passionately defended the bill, saying it is necessary because, under current law:
"...Once [the wealthy] hit the cap, they can earn and earn and earn without paying into the system. We want a Social Security system that works of all America, not just the millionaires and billionaires.” – Sen. Elizabeth Warren
NCPSSM President Max Richtman referred to a favorite metaphor involving a high-earning NBA superstar paying into Social Security. “He’s already hit the cap and is done contributing before the first quarter of the first game of the season is over.” On a more serious note, he continued, “We are here today to say that for those who have so much, it is only right that they pay their fair share into the Social Security program.”
Richtman used the occasion to recall the words of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who started the Social Security system:
"The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much, it is whether we provide enough for those who have little." - FDR
In addition to lifting the cap, the Sanders-DeFazio bill increases Social Security benefits by an estimated $65 a month, improves the Special Minimum Benefit by making it easier for low-income workers to qualify for benefits, and links the cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) formula to a new Consumer Price Index for the Elderly (CPI-E) to factor in costs seniors traditionally face such as prescription drugs, utility bills and property taxes.
Posted on 2/16/2017 11:18 AM By NCPSSM
Americans overwhelmingly support traditional Social Security and Medicare and oppose benefit cuts, according to a new poll released this week by the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare. At a time when Congressional Republicans are proposing to fundamentally alter both programs, strong majorities of voters want Congress to protect Social Security and Medicare – and intensely disagree with key provisions of GOP plans.
In the poll of likely voters, 79% favor increasing Social Security benefits --- and funding that increase by having wealthy Americans pay the same rate into Social Security as everyone else. Seventy-seven percent oppose raising the Social Security retirement age to 69, and a whopping 93% favor allowing Medicare to negotiate to bring down the price of prescription drugs.
“These results prove that Americans want Congress to honor the commitment to all working people who paid into Social Security and Medicare, and keep their hands off these programs,” said Max Richtman, President and CEO of the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare. “This should be a warning to members of Congress that they tamper with our cherished social insurance programs at their peril.”
The poll results were released Tuesday at the U.S. Capitol by Richtman, with Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-MD); Rep. John Larson (D-CT); Rep. Tony Cardenas (D-CA); Celinda Lake, President Lake Research Partners; Witold Skwierczynski, President, National Council of SSA Field Operations Locals, Council 220, American Federation of Government Employees; Steve Hill, Director of Retirement Security Campaigns, SEIU; and Nancy Olumekor, Director, American Postal Workers Union Retiree Department.
“Social Security and Medicare represent a promise America has made to all those participating in this system,” said Senator Van Hollen. “Americans overwhelmingly want to strengthen these essential lifelines. I strongly support efforts to ensure that these programs can increase benefits and continue to deliver financial security for generations to come.”
Representative Larson said the poll underscores popular support for the kinds of measures he proposes in his Social Security 2100 Act, which keeps the program solvent into the next century while increasing benefits. “Social Security is not an entitlement; it’s insurance we paid for,” said Larson. “Let’s say to President Trump: join us in protecting and expanding Social Security.”
Representative Tony Cardenas (D-CA) made an emotional plea to preserve the two programs by citing a family story. “My grandson’s great-grandmother was saved by Medicare. It’s a matter of dignity and life.” He railed against proposals to privatize social insurance programs. “Do we value dignity? Do we value life? Make our President and our Congress commit that they will not take it away from you!”
OTHER HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE POLL:
o 74% favor gradually requiring employees and employers to pay Social Security taxes on wages above $127K, including majorities across party lines.
o 75% favor including a Social Security benefits credit for up to five years of time spent outside the paid workforce caring for young children, aging seniors, or family members with disabilities.
o 65% oppose raising the Medicare eligibility age to 67.
The poll of 800 likely voters nationwide was commissioned by the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare and conducted by Lake Research Partners from January 4 to January 7, 2017. The poll was co-sponsored by the American Federation of Government Employees, American Postal Workers Union, Service Employees International Union and the United Steelworkers.
Posted on 1/27/2017 3:21 PM By NCPSSM
Speaker Paul Ryan and the House GOP are on a tear to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA), without being any closer to agreement on a replacement plan. The House will likely introduce a budget reconciliation bill to effectively repeal the ACA in the next two weeks… with no immediate replacement. Ryan and his troops hope to have a replacement plan by April, but Max Richtman, the President of the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare is skeptical:
"Given the potential political risk of displacing 20 million Americans who now have health coverage through the ACA, the legislative battle will probably take longer than they think."
Republicans meeting in Philadelphia this week to strategize about replacements for the Affordable Care Act were unable to come to a consensus. The disarray in the GOP caucus made for an alarming headline in this morning’s Los Angeles Times: Republicans divided over whether millions of Americans should lose government-subsidized health coverage.
In the meantime, if Congress repeals the ACA soon but blows past April struggling to replace it, says Richtman, that could destabilize the health insurance market and endanger ACA policyholders’ coverage.
"If key parts of the ACA are repealed now, and insurance companies think the situation is too unpredictable, you have an immediate de facto loss of coverage for more than 20 million Americans."
The nearly 60 million seniors and disabled on Medicare are also at risk of losing benefits that the ACA mandated, including annual wellness visits and preventative screenings with no out of pocket costs, and will have to pay an average $1,000 per year more for prescription drugs unless those parts of Obamacare are retained. Of course, at this point no one knows which of the ACA’s benefits will stay or be shredded, including House Republicans.
In a related development, the Washington Post reports the White House is pulling ads for ACA enrollments in advance of the 2017 enrollment deadline.
Posted on 1/17/2017 2:14 PM By NCPSSM
Max Richtman, President and CEO of the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare, joined other advocates, politicians, and everyday Americans at a Day of Action rally in Richmond, Virginia Sunday. The Day of Action was an opportunity for people across the country to stand up for the Affordable Care Act, Medicare, and Medicaid. The Richmond rally – attended by Richtman, Senator Tim Kaine, Rep. Bobby Scott (D-VA), and Governor Terry McAulife – was one of more than 40 protests nationwide.
Some one thousand people gathered on the grounds of the Virginia State Capitol to make their voices heard. Max Richtman rallied the crowd early on with a reminder of the struggle to defend Social Security in 2005. “We had a president (George W. Bush) whose top agenda item was to privatize Social Security. Even with a GOP House and Senate, we were able to kill it. Not a single bill reached the floor. And that’s what we can do today. We can defeat any changes to the ACA which will endanger Medicare.”
Ricthman reminded the crowd in stark terms exactly what is at stake if the Affordable Care Act is repealed, “despite a lot of the myths that citizens have heard in the past few years.” Medicare beneficiaries, in particular, would lose the valuable improvements that the ACA provided. “Here is the truth,” Richtman said from the podium, “For the first time ever, Medicare beneficiaries were able to get annual wellness exams with no out of pocket costs under the ACA. For the first time ever, they could get preventative screenings with no out of pocket costs, including mammograms, colon cancer screenings, and diabetes screenings. All of that will disappear if the ACA is repealed.” He warned that the Part D Prescription Drug “donut hole” – which the ACA was rapidly closing – would return with repeal, costing the average beneficiary more than $1000 a year.
As the Washington Post reports, the Day of Action was the brainchild of Senator Bernie Sanders and other democratic leaders in Congress. At rallies across the country, crowds heard poignant testimonials from Americans who benefitted from the Affordable Care Act. Kate Barrett of Richmond worried that her daughter suffering from incurable cancer could be denied coverage or won’t be able to afford treatment if the ACA is repealed. 73-year old Scott Gledhill said he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer two months after signing up for Medicare. “My bill would have been half a million dollars. I would have lost everything I had, after a whole lifetime of work and saving.”
Day of Action organizers want Republicans in Congress to feel public pressure against ACA repeal, and urged attendees to contact their elected representatives right away. “Don’t agonize. Organize!” was the rallying cry of the day, said Richtman. “As we've learned from our past battles,” he explained, “Once politicians feel the heat, they begin to see the light.”