This morning, Data For Progress released a new poll about Social Security which showed what you would probably expect: there is overwhelming support for Democratic proposals to expand Social Security benefits. One question in the survey asked about raising the benefits to keep up with inflation and 83% support the idea while just 10% oppose it. 86% of Democrats, 84% of Republicans and 79% of independents were all in favor. Increasing Social Security benefits is part of Florida Democrat Christine Olivo’s platform. She told me she and her familytake care of her uncle who spent over 40 years as a taxi driver. “He has suffered multiple strokes and he can no longer work. His Social Security is $524 a month. His rent has been raised to $1217. Between the remaining rent balance, food and utilities our family has no choice but to put our pennies together every month. This month was extra difficult for us and my uncle sadly received his first eviction notice. We will fight it, but we shouldn’t have to. If we don’t increase Social Security then our elderly will become homeless. I dare Congress to try living off of $524 a month.”
Even more stunning is what happens when voters are told that Democrats want to expand Social Security and Republicans want to end it in the next 5 years. Voters hearing this positions support Democrats in a. Generic congressional poll by a massive 20 points, Even 22% of Republicans say they would vote for the Democrat! Alan Grayson mentioned to me today that he's close to retirement age "and there hasn’t been an increase in Social Security benefits (benefits, not COLA adjustments) since I was in school. It’s indicative of a collapse in democracy itself when there is near-universal agreement that benefits should increase, and an obvious moral and economic imperative that they do so, and yet year after year, decade after decade, they don’t."
And then the old question of the cap. Right now there is a cap in Social Security payroll taxes that benefits the wealthy. Most people pay a payroll tax on their whole income. But people who make over $147,000 pay no payroll taxes on that excess income. Most Americans would like to see that disparity end. I wasn’t thrilled with how this poll was pushing a proposal that allows an abeyance of payrolls taxes between $147,000 and $400,000, with people paying on $400,001 and move. That’s foolish, unfair, complicated and confusing. Congress should just eliminate the cap altogether. Here’s the polling they offered:
Jason Call is running for Congress in northwest Washington for a seat held by New Dem Rick Larsen, a so-called deficit hawk on any issue that involves making peoples’ lives better. He has taken the position that "all options should be on the table" to balance the federal debt, which is generally code for privatizing and cutting Social Security and Medicare— basically anything except the Pentagon budget. Call has a very different perspective. He told me today that “With polling like this— incontrovertible evidence that voters would support expansion of Social Security, and removing the cap on taxation— it’s amazing that the Democratic Party hasn’t moved forward on the issue. How many issues are they going to fail on because leadership and the Senate won’t abolish the filibuster and actually govern as if they were the majority that they are. With Joe Biden’s presidency sinking faster than the Titanic, you would think that the administration would find any path to bail water. Instead they’re just going to tell young people to vote harder.”
Sergio Alcubilla, the candidate in Hawaii running for the seat reactionary Blue Dog Ed Case holds, has a similar way of looking at it. "Now is the time to expand Social Security benefits for all to keep up with rising costs and I would strongly support such efforts in Congress. Now is not the time to reduce benefits in the guise of Social Security reform. Instead, we should be looking at eliminating the cap on payroll taxes. When the wealthiest 20% of the country control 90% of the wealth, we need to look at the income inequality in this country to see that we can do better for our retirees, disabled, and children who rely on Social Security. It begins by asking the wealthiest to pay their fair share and not by asking those with little to do more with less."
Mark Neumann, a progressive in western Wisconsin is running for the open seat New Dem Ron Kind is giving up His feeling is that “The gravest danger to democracy succeeding is the ever widening disparity of wealth and power being concentrated into fewer hands. Governance of the people, by the people and for the people depends on all people having a voice in the process. What we are moving towards is governance of the people, by the plutocrats, for the accumulation of more power and wealth. For a strong majority of Americans being in favor of extending the cap on Social Security taxation, this bodes well for me that we understand the need for staunchly progressive taxation formulas. We need to do this to favor governance of the people, by the people to protect human rights of all including the human right of elders to live in dignity with security of food, shelter and community membership.”
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