President Obama’s speech in Indiana yesterday was seen by many as our first glimpse at his future role as campaigner-in-chief for 2016 Presidential and Congressional races. He provided a detailed repudiation of GOP economic ideas generally and Donald Trump’s morphing plans specifically. The real surprise came when the President, for the first time ever, supported the growing grassroots movement to boost Social Security benefits:
“We have to tackle retirement security. That is something that keeps a lot of people up at night. That is why we have taken action already to make it easier for more workers to stay with their jobs, to make sure that you – when you do save – it is not in Wall Street’s best interest but your best interest. Even if they have an account set up, American’s don’t have enough money at the end of the month to put into it. They are barely making the bills. That is why Social Security is more important than ever.
We cannot afford to weaken Social Security, we should be strengthening Social Security. Not only do we need to strengthen it, it is time we finally made Social Security more generous and increase the benefits so that today’s retirees and future generations get the dignified retirement that they have earned. We could start paying for it by asking the wealthiest Americans to contribute a little bit more. I can afford it.”…President Obama, Elkhart, Indiana June 2, 2016.
Of course, none of this is news to millions of retirees, people with disabilities, survivors and their families who depend on the Social Security benefits they’ve earned. Vast majorities of Americans, both Republicans and Democrats, agree on ways to strengthen Social Security — without cutting benefits. Fully 74% of Republicans and 88% of Democrats agree that “it is critical to preserve Social Security even if it means increasing Social Security taxes paid by working Americans.
“The American people have known for a long time that the disconnect between Congress’ economic goals and what the average family actually needs has grown into a gaping political chasm. President Obama’s support of boosting Social Security benefits marks an important shift away from the billion dollar campaign — led by the anti-Social Security lobby and their Congressional supporters — to cut middle-class benefits which has dominated Washington’s political debate for years.
Americans know first-hand that the average $1,300 monthly Social Security retirement benefit isn’t too generous. They know that this year’s zero cost of living allowance isn’t too generous. They see a growing amount of their Social Security check going to pay for rising healthcare costs and skyrocketing drug prices. These are the cold economic realities that have spurred the Boost Social Security movement and will not be ignored. I challenge Congressional leaders and candidates alike to follow the President’s lead and offer their support for any of the important boost Social Security bills currently introduced in Congress.”…Max Richtman, NCPSSM President/CEO
The National Committee has been working closely with Congressional allies on Social Security for decades and we support numerous pieces of legislation which would boost benefits for American workers who’ve contributed over a lifetime to build the program. We owe a true debt of gratitude to Congressional Members who’ve actually listened to what average Americans tell them about the importance of Social Security and led the movement shifting Washington’s conversation about Social Security away from a decades-long political strategy of cutting benefits to boosting benefits. Among them: Senators Sanders, Warren, and retired Senator Tom Harkin plus the House Seniors Task Force and Progressive Caucus.
But the true challenge is to turn campaign rhetoric into action. We’d like to hear all candidates who promise to “save” Social Security provide their detailed strategy for Social Security expansion and long-term solvency solutions.
Empty promises simply aren’t enough.
Now’s the time to join the Boost Social Security movement and help us keep the momentum going and the pressure on!