They Sure Do... Did You Vote For One Of Them?
Progressives have proposed bills to protect and expand Social Security benefits by raising the cap so that high earners pay their fair share. Bernie and Elizabeth Warren have a bill pending in the Senate and Jan Schakowsky has a sister bill bottled up by McCarthy in the House. The legislation “would expand Social Security benefits by $2,400 a year and ensure Social Security is fully funded for the next 75 years— all without raising taxes by one penny on over 93% of American households that make $250,000 or less.” Bernie explained the legislation like this:
"At a time when nearly half of older Americans have no retirement savings and almost 50 percent of our nation’s seniors are trying to survive on an income of less than $25,000 a year, our job is not to cut Social Security. Our job is to expand Social Security so that every senior in America can retire with the dignity that they deserve and every person with a disability can live with the security they need. The legislation that we are introducing today will expand Social Security benefits by $2,400 a year and will extend the solvency of Social Security for the next 75 years by making sure that the wealthiest people in our society pay their fair share into the system. Right now, a Wall Street CEO who makes $30 million pays the same amount into Social Security as someone who makes $160,000 a year. Our bill puts an end to that absurdity which will allow us to protect Social Security for generations to come while lifting millions of seniors out of poverty."
In the House, the original cosponsors of the Social Security Expansion Act include Pramila Jayapal (D-WA), Jamie Raskin (D-MD), AOC (D-NY), Jamaal Bowman (D-NY), Cori Bush (D-MO), Ro Khanna (D-CA), Barbara Lee (D-CA), Greg Casar (D-TX), Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ), Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), Mark Pocan (D-WI), Jim McGovern (D-MA), Jerry Nadler (D-NY), Chuy Garcia (D-IL), Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX), Steve Cohen (D-TN)… No Republicans so far. They have their own proposal— raising the Social Security full retirement age from 67 to 70, which would amount to a 23% lifetime benefit cut.
Conservative backers of this idea insist that life expectancy has increased and people are able to continue working and earning income well into their 60s, so no harm, no foul. Except that neither is really true. Life expectancy for many demographic groups has actually decreased in the past few years, especially for communities of color. Secondly, Americans in physically demanding jobs may not be able to continue working until age 70. They would have no choice but to claim benefits early and lose sorely-needed income.
The L.A. Times’ Michael Hiltzik drives home this point in a column aptly entitled, The Stupid and Dishonest Idea of Raising the Social Security Retirement Age is Back:
The proposal’s backers insist that something must be done to shore up Social Security’s finances before the projected 2035 insolvency date of the program’s trust fund— and raising the retirement age would save money. A key House Republican told the Washington Post‘s Tony Romm:
For conservatives, those “hard decisions” always seem to demand that seniors bear the burden through benefit cuts, rather than by bringing more revenue into the program. Democrats have introduced legislation do increase revenue by adjusting the payroll wage cap— so that high-earners begin contributing their fair share to Social Security. That alone could extend the solvency of the trust fund for decades. (Later this month, millionaires will stop paying into Social Security for the rest of the calendar year.)
Not a single GOP member of Congress has signed onto legislation to adjust the payroll wage cap. Instead, key Republicans insist that “entitlements” (Social Security and Medicare) must be reformed.
Many congressional Republicans conflate seniors’ earned benefits with the federal debt issue, even though Social Security and Medicare Part A are completely self-funded by American workers and employers. They don’t contribute a penny to the debt. None other than Ronald Reagan declared in 1984, “Social Security has nothing to do with the deficit.”
According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, the number one driver of the debt is tax breaks. But Republicans ignore the $2 trillion that the Trump/GOP tax cuts added to the debt. Instead of calling for repeal of those tax cuts, the GOP wants to make them permanent. This is a dubious set of priorities at a time when the wealthy and profitable corporations are by and large thriving, while some seniors— racked by the pandemic and high inflation— are barely surviving.
In a February 9 press release, the White noted that The Republican Study Committee— which includes a majority of House Republicans— released a formal budget that, according to Politico, included "raising the eligibility ages for each program, along with withholding payments for individuals who retire early or had a certain income, and privatized funding for Social Security to lower income taxes. And in 2015, most House Republicans, including Speaker McCarthy, Rep. Scalise, and a host of others in current leadership, voted to raise the retirement age to 70, which would cut Social Security benefits for tens of millions of seniors who paid into the system for years."
As part of his deal with extremists to become Speaker, McCarthy agreed to hold the debt ceiling hostage to pursing what the GOP calls “reforms to” Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. People think only GOP extremists like Marjorie Traitor Greene, Paul Gosar, Lauren Boebert, Andy Ogles (R-TN), Kevin Hern (R-OK), Mary Miller (R-IL), Beth Van Duyne (R-TX), Clay Higgins (R-LA), Kat Cammack (R-FL), Troy Nehls (R-TX), Mike Johnson (R-LA), Bob Good (R-VA), Patrick McHenry (R-NC), Matt Rosendale (R-MT), Diana Harshbarger (R-TN), Ralph Norman (R-SC), Anna Paulina Lunatic (R-FL), Jim Banks (R-IN), Ronny Jackson (R-TX), Russell Fry (R-SC), Byron Donalds (R-FL) support cutting Social Security benefits. But “people” aren’t paying close enough attention. Sure, all those extremists are working to cut benefits. But so are virtually all the fake-moderates among the House Republicans. These so-called “non-extremists: who have already signed on to the GOP proposal to cut benefits include Republicans who pretend to be mainstream like:
Mike Garcia (R-CA)
Ann Wagner (R-MO)
Don Bacon (R-NE)
Vern Buchanan (R-FL)
Ashley Hinson (R-IA)
Dan Crenshaw (R-TX)
Nick LaLota (R-NY)
John James (R-MI)
Dan Newhouse (R-WA)
Carlos Gimenez (R-FL)
Bryan Steil (R-WI)
Zach Nunn (R-IA)
Blake Moore (R-UT)
Brian Mast (R-FL)
Mike Turner (R-OH)
Jay Obernolte (R-CA)
Nicole Malliotakis (R-NY)
French Hill (R-AR)
Dusty Johnson (R-SD)
Kevin Kiley (R-CA)
David Joyce (R-OH)
Nick Langworthy (R-NY)