This week four prominent politicians in the United States have taken measures to protect Social Security which is beloved by senior citizens. Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren from Vermont and Massachusetts respectively, in addition to Representatives Jan Schakowsky from Illinois and Val Hoyle from Oregon have introduced legislation that would hugely expand benefits for those enrolled in Social Security. This includes an additional $2,400 a year as well as complete funding for at least the next 75 years without having to raise taxes even a penny on 93 percent of American households making $250,000 or less each year.
These estimates reflect an analysis of the legislation conducted by the Social Security Administration at the request of Sen. Sanders. The analysis was also released today in a letter from Chief Actuary Stephen Goss.
Joining Sanders, Warren, Schakowsky, and Hoyle on the Social Security Expansion Act are Sens. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Alex Padilla (D-Calif.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), and Ed Markey (D-Mass.), as well as 25 cosponsors in the House including Reps. Alma Adams (D-N.C.), Jamaal Bowman (D-N.Y.), Cori Bush (D-Mo.), Troy A. Carter (D-La.), Greg Casar (D-Texas), Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), Jesús Chuy García (D-Ill.), Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.), Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas), Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), Ro Khanna (D-Calif.), Rick Larsen (D-Wash.), Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), Stephen F. Lynch (D-Mass.), Jim McGovern (D-Mass.), Gwen Moore (D-Wis.), Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), Grace Napolitano (D-Calif.), Eleanor Holmes-Norton (D-D.C.), Donald M. Payne, Jr. (D-N.J.), Chellie Pingree (D-Maine), Mark Pocan (D-Wis.), Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), and Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.).
“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,” said Sen. Sanders. “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.”
“Social Security is an economic lifeline for millions of Americans, but many seniors are struggling with rising costs,” said Sen. Warren. “As House Republicans try to use a manufactured debt ceiling crisis to cut the Social Security that Americans have earned, I’m working with Senator Sanders to expand Social Security and extend its solvency by making the wealthy pay their fair share, so everyone can retire with dignity.”
“Social Security lifts more people out of poverty than any other program in the United States. In 2021 alone, Social Security lifted over 18 million seniors out of poverty,” said Rep. Schakowsky. “Instead of working to protect Social Security, my Republican colleagues are plotting to cut benefits and raise the retirement age. I am proud to introduce the Social Security Expansion Act with Senator Sanders, Senator Warren, and Congresswoman Hoyle, to protect the national treasure that is Social Security. This bill will extend the Social Security trust fund’s solvency and expand benefits so that everyone in America can retire with the security and dignity they deserve after a lifetime of hard work.”
“Every American should be able to retire with respect and security by knowing that they will receive the Social Security payments they have earned,” said Rep. Hoyle. “With the rising cost of living, it’s time to modernize and expand the program. I’m proud to co-lead the Social Security Expansion Act, my first bill in Congress, which helps address the disproportionate amount Social Security recipients spend of their income on things like health care and prescription drugs. While House Republicans are willing to put Social Security on the chopping block, we are fighting hard to protect Americans’ hard-earned benefits and expand coverage.”
One of the most successful and popular government programs in U.S. history, Social Security has never failed to pay out every benefit owed to every eligible American on time and without delay. Before 1935, when it was signed into law by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, about 50 percent of the nation’s seniors were living in poverty, as well as countless Americans living with disabilities and surviving dependents of deceased workers. Nearly 90 years later, the senior poverty rate is down to 10.3 percent and in 2021 alone, during the onslaught of the Covid-19 pandemic, Social Security lifted 26.3 million Americans out of poverty, including more than 18 million seniors.
Despite this long legacy of combatting poverty, more must be done to strengthen the program, not cut it. While the average Social Security benefit is only $1,688 a month, nearly 40 percent of seniors rely on Social Security for a majority of their income; one in seven rely on it for more than 90 percent of their income; and nearly half of Americans aged 55 and older have no retirement savings at all.
By requiring millionaires and billionaires to finally pay their fair share into the program, the Social Security Expansion Act would ensure the fund’s solvency to the end of the century, help low-income workers stay out of poverty by improving the Special Minimum Benefit, restore student benefits up to age 22 for children of disabled or deceased workers, strengthen benefits for senior citizens and people with disabilities, increase Cost-Of-Living-Adjustments (COLAs), and expand program benefits across-the-board.
The Social Security Expansion Act has also been endorsed by more than 50 major organizations, including: Social Security Works, AFA CWA, AFSCME, Alliance for Retired Americans, American Federation of Government Employees, American Federation of Teachers, American Postal Workers Union, BMWED/IBT, International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers (IFPTE), United Electrical, Radio & Machine Workers of America (UE), United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, National Education Association, Indivisible, MoveOn, National Domestic Workers Alliance, People’s Action, Public Citizen, Care in Action, CASA, Center for Medicare Advocacy, Center for Popular Democracy, Blue Future, Church World Service, CommonDefense.us, Connecticut Citizen Action Group, Demand Progress, Health Care Awareness Month, Hunger Free America, Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement, Just Care USA, National Partnership for Women & Families, NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice, NJ State Industrial Union Council, Oregonizers, Our Revolution, Right to Health Action (R2H Action), Sunrise Movement, The National Employment Law Project, Upper West Side Action Group: MoveOn/Indivisible/SwingLeft, Working Families Party, National Korean American Service & Education Consortium (NAKASEC), Indivisible Marin, Children’s Aid, P Street, East New York Farms, Partners for Dignity & Rights, Generations United, Broadway Community, Inc., National Council of Jewish Women, New York State Public Health Association, Justice in Aging, National Women’s Law Center, Americans for Tax Fairness, National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare, Labor Campaign for Single Payer, and American Medical Student Association.
Read the bill text, here.
Read the fact sheet and full list of supporting organizations, here.
Read the Social Security Administration’s analysis of the legislation, here.
Read an analysis of what the world’s wealthiest people would pay under this legislation, here.
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