Congressman John Larson (right) is reintroducing his landmark Social Security expansion bill
For years, seniors have told us that they need their Social Security benefits boosted. They want fairer cost-of-living adjustments (COLAs) that reflect retirees’ true living expenses. They say it’s time for the wealthy to start paying their fair share in Social Security payroll contributions. Congressman John Larson’s Social Security 2100 Act would achieve all of that – and more. The bill would keep the system solvent for nearly the rest of this century while modestly boosting benefits – and cutting taxes for retirees. Not only do seniors and advocates support this bill, the American public has affirmed the proposals that it embodies in poll after poll, across party lines and age groups.
This morning at the U.S. Capitol, Rep. Larson announced that he is re-introducing his bill, the legislation having languished in the GOP-controlled House for four years. With a new majority in the House, the bill will finally get the consideration it deserves. Larson, the newly minted chairman of the House Social Security subcommittee, promises to hold hearings on the bill featuring testimony from experts and the public.
The Congressman decided to re-introduce his bill on President Franklin Roosevelt’s birthday. F.D.R. signed Social Security into law in 1935 to give retirees the basic income security they lacked. (At the time, many seniors were destitute and dwelled in poor houses.) Over the decades, Social Security has been expanded to benefit a wider swath of Americans. The expansions included benefits for survivors and dependents, provisions for early retirement, disability coverage, and annual cost-of-living adjustments (COLAs) to offset the effects of inflation.
Social Security isn’t an entitlement. It is the insurance Americans have paid for with every paycheck. It helps provide economic security for millions of Americans including seniors, people with disabilities, and children and spouses who have lost a provider. That’s why I’m working to expand Social Security. – Rep. John Larson
Champions of Social Security like John Larson know that the program must be boosted to keep pace with the country’s ever-changing needs. But conservatives have fought to reduce Social Security benefits, insisting the only way to address the system’s projected future shortfalls is to cut it. Congressman Larson’s bill is a resounding rebuke to those claims. It would keep Social Security financially sound for generations, mainly by requiring the wealthy to contribute more to the system.
Under current law, all income above $132,900 is exempt from Social Security payroll taxes. Rep. Larson’s bill adjusts the payroll wage cap so that earners with incomes exceeding $400,000 per year would continue contributing to Social Security. Eventually, the cap would be phased-out altogether. The legislation also includes a payroll tax increase of 1.2 percentage points spread over more than twenty years – the equivalent of 50 cents per week for the average wage earner.
This new revenue allows the Social Security 2100 Act to provide a much-needed boost in benefits. Among other things, the legislation:
*Provides a 2% benefit bump for all beneficiaries.
*Protects retirees against inflation with a new formula for calculating cost-of-living adjustments, the Consumer Price Index for the Elderly (CPI-E).
*Includes an increase in the special minimum benefit so that more low-wage workers qualify.
*Cuts taxes for over 12 million Social Security beneficiaries.
These improvements could make a meaningful difference for seniors living on fixed incomes. The average Social Security retirement benefit is a modest $1,461 per month, yet half of America’s seniors rely on Social Security for at least 50 percent of their income. One in five seniors depend on it for at least 90 percent of their income. The Social Security 2100 Act gives retirees the pay raise they need and deserve. It’s time for the Congress to move forward under Congressman Larson’s leadership.