Program Injects Billions into State and Local Economies
As we approach Social Security’s 83rd anniversary this mid-term election year, what better time to remind candidates for House and Senate about the program’s immense contribution to the economy? Every year, Social Security pays out more than $800 billion in benefits to some 57 million Americans, who spend that money in their communities – providing economic stimulus on the local, state, and national levels. With the elections less than 90 days away, the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare has updated our state-by-state snapshots, revealing how much revenue Social Security contributes to the economy of every Congressional District in each state.
“Social Security has a very big footprint in Congressional districts across the country, which is a tremendous benefit not only for beneficiaries, but for entire communities,” says Max Richtman, president and CEO of the National Committee. “Yet, in the face of clear evidence of Social Security’s effectiveness, conservatives want to cut and privatize the program. Candidates in this year’s mid-term elections must ask themselves whether their communities can afford to lose billions of dollars in economic stimulus – not to mention the baseline financial security that these earned benefits provide retirees and their families. The answer for anyone who seeks to represent the people should be a resounding ‘No.’”
The Congressional Democrats’ 2018 “For the People” agenda includes a strong commitment to strengthening and expanding Social Security, instead of benefit cuts and privatization. “With the passage of massive tax giveaways to billionaires, Washington Republicans just ushered in an era of $1 trillion deficits – and now they’re openly talking about slashing Social Security and Medicare to pay for it,” says Rep. Cheri Bustos (D-IL), co-chair of the Democratic Policy and Communications Committee. “Republicans had their chance to lead, instead they proved that they’re for the special interests. Democrats respect the years of hard work seniors put in on the job earning a secure retirement. Instead of turning millionaires into billionaires on the backs of our seniors, we should be working together to protect Social Security and Medicare for the American people.”
Democratic lawmakers have already introduced legislation to keep Social Security solvent for decades while boosting benefits, including Rep. John Larson’s Social Security 2100 Act, which raises the payroll wage cap so the wealthy pay their fair share. These bills have languished under GOP leadership, but could win passage if voters send enough Social Security champions to Congress.
In pivotal races across the country, candidates’ true positions on Social Security should be a crucial consideration for voters. In Wisconsin’s 1st Congressional district, where ironworker and Social Security champion Randy Bryce is running for retiring Speaker Paul Ryan’s seat, residents receive $2.5 billion in benefits every year. Colorado’s 6th district Congressional race pits incumbent Mike Coffman, who once called Social Security a ‘Ponzi scheme,’ against challenger Jason Crow, whose “protecting Colorado’s seniors” includes robust support for Social Security. There, $1.7 billion in Social Security benefits for nearly 100,000 6th district residents is at stake. Or consider the crucial Florida Senate race, where Republican candidate Rick Scott has appeared sympathetic to the idea of privatizing Social Security while incumbent Bill Nelson has been a rock solid defender of the program. Residents of the Sunshine State receive a whopping $78 billion cash injection from Social Security every year.
Seniors, who made up 21% of the electorate in the 2016 elections[i], wield significant power at the ballot box – and could help determine the fate of Social Security for current and future retirees and the communities in which they live. “In swing districts in 2018, seniors may represent up to 33% of the vote,” says pollster Celinda Lake, president of Lake Research Partners. “There will be no blue tide if we ignore seniors and near-seniors. And Democrats have powerful messages for them on preventing cuts to Social Security and Medicare, and lowering prescriptions drug prices.”
Now is the time for candidates – and voters – to recognize that Social Security is not only an economic stimulus, but an economic stabilizer, as well. During economic downturns when revenues and incomes generally decline, Social Security continues paying benefits – providing baseline stability for national, state, and local economies. Nothing less than the future of Social Security and the economic benefits it brings is at stake in November’s elections. The data doesn’t lie.
The National Committee, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization acts in the interests of its membership through advocacy, education, services, grassroots efforts and the leadership of the Board of Directors and professional staff. The work of the National Committee is directed toward developing better-informed citizens and voters.
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