The cause of expanding Social Security got a big boost on Capitol Hill today with the creation of two new Congressional caucuses. Key members of the House and Senate launched ‘Expand Social Security’ caucuses for each chamber of Congress. Co-chaired by Senators Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), and Representatives John Larson (D-CT), Conor Lamb (D-PA), Debbie Dingell (D-MI), Raul Grijalva (D-AZ), and Terri Sewell (D-AL), members of the new caucuses promised a “righteous fight” to expand, not cut, Social Security – while demanding the wealthiest pay their fair share. “We’ll protect and expand Social Security for every American who has a right to it,” promised Congresswoman Dingell.
Yellow t-shirted volunteers from the National Committee’s Capital Action Team (CATs) traveled to Capitol Hill to show their support for the new caucuses. Speaking for the National Committee, Senior Policy Analyst Webster Phillips lauded members of Congress for embracing a movement the group has long championed.
“For decades, stagnant wages have eroded working Americans’ ability to save for retirement. That’s why protecting and expanding Social Security is critical to the National Committee, and to an overwhelming majority of Americans from across the political spectrum.” – NCPSSM Senior Policy Analyst Webster Phillips, 9/13/18
Senator Sanders touted legislation, including his own Social Security Expansion Act and Rep. Larson’s Social Security 2100 Act, which would keep the system solvent for decades while modestly boosting benefits.
“We must say loudly and clearly, at a time when millions of seniors are trying to survive on fixed incomes, we’re not going to cut Social Security. We’re going to expand! You hear that, Paul Ryan? Expand!” – Sen. Bernie Sanders, 9/13/18
Co-chair John Larson said that more than 140 members had signed onto the House caucus so far, making it the largest in Congress. Larson and the other co-chairs insisted the time is right for creation of these caucuses, in the face of relentless Republican proposals to cut Social Security benefits, which they falsely label ‘entitlements.’ “News flash! It’s not an entitlement. It’s insurance you pay for,” thundered Larson. Senator Warren struck an equally defiant tone.
“We’re here to say no! We will never cut Social Security. We will expand Social Security! We will fight shoulder to shoulder for what’s right. This is a righteous fight… and we’re going to win!” – Sen. Elizabeth Warren, 9/13/18
In 2013, the National Committee launched the Boost Social Security Now campaign to advocate higher benefits and more accurate cost-of-living adjustments (among other improvements) for retirees and people with disabilities. “With almost half of retirees depending on Social Security for all or most of their income at a time of rising living expenses, boosting benefits is the only just and sustainable path forward,” said Max Richtman, President and CEO of the National Committee.
The “Boost” campaign includes specific policy prescriptions for expanding the program, including: lifting the cap on Social Security payroll contributions (currently set at $128,400 in annual income); increasing the basic benefit for current and future retirees; providing Social Security credits for family caregivers; and replacing the inadequate inflation index now used to calculate cost-of-living adjustments with the Consumer Price Index for the Elderly (CPI-E), which more accurately reflects seniors’ true expenses. These expansion measures stand in stark opposition to the conservative agenda to cut Social Security.
“The movement to expand Social Security is a bulwark against conservative attempts to slash benefits, raise the retirement age, and impose lower cost-of-living adjustments under the guise of ‘entitlement reform.’ The political right has renewed its attacks on Americans’ earned benefits in the wake of the Trump/GOP tax cuts, which have failed to trickle down to working people while blowing a $2 trillion hole in the federal debt,” said Richtman.
Expanding Social Security benefits is not only the right thing to do for beneficiaries struggling to make ends meet; it will enhance Social Security’s role in boosting the economy. Social Security already provides more than $1.6 trillion in national economic stimulus every year. Every dollar paid in benefits adds $2 to the economy. Boosting Social Security benefits will infuse communities, states, and the entire country with billions of dollars in additional stimulus. For more information, see the National Committee’s Social Security Snapshots, detailing the program’s economic impact in all 50 states and U.S. territories.