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Progressives make case for expanding—not cutting—Social Security benefits: ‘No one should retire into poverty’

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“Social Security’s modest benefits should be expanded. When President Franklin Roosevelt signed Social Security into law, he called it ‘a cornerstone’ on which to build. Yet the last time Congress enacted increases was 1972.”

Progressive advocates and experts made the case for expanding Social Security during a historic House committee hearing on Thursday, providing a stark contrast to President Donald Trump’s call for billions of dollars in cuts to the popular New Deal-era program in his 2020 budget proposal.

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The Ways and Means hearing on Rep. John Larson’s (D-Conn.) Social Security 2100 Act—which would boost benefits by hiking taxes on the rich and ensure the program’s solvency through the end of the century—represents the first time a congressional committee has considered legislation to expand Social Security in nearly 50 years.

Nancy Altman, president of advocacy group Social Security Works, called the event a “critical milestone in the fight to increase, not cut, Social Security’s modest benefits.”

During her testimony in support of the Social Security 2100 Act on Thursday, Altman said the legislation would help solve America retirement income crisis.

To bolster her argument that expanding Social Security is both good policy and good politics, Altman pointed to survey data showing that expanding Social Security is popular across party lines.

“Social Security is intended to provide, as its name suggests, a sense of security, peace of mind,” Altman said. “But that invaluable benefit has been lost because too many Americans have been convinced that Social Security won’t be there for them. Passage of the Social Security 2100 Act is an important step to restoring that peace of mind.”

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Abigail Zapote, executive director of advocacy group Latinos for a Secure Retirement, also testified (pdf) in support of Larson’s bill on Thursday, calling it an important step toward a secure retirement for seniors and future generations.

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“Social Security is a vital safety net that protects American families,” said Zapote. “Children are protected in the event they are orphaned, or their parents become disabled. Workers are protected if they can no longer work because of disability and parents and grandparents are protected when they become too old to continue working. Social Security is a sacred trust between generations and represents our Latino family values.”

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Contrary to continued right-wing fearmongering about the looming collapse of Social Security, recent analyses have found the program is in good financial shape. But, as Altman wrote for Forbes Thursday, the program’s benefits “are modest by virtually any measure” and should, in fact, be increased.

“Social Security’s modest benefits should be expanded, not cut,” Altman wrote. “When President Franklin Roosevelt signed Social Security into law, he called it ‘a cornerstone’ on which to build. Yet the last time Congress enacted increases was 1972.”

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“Social Security has stood the test of time,” added Altman. “Next month, we will celebrate the 84th anniversary of the system’s enactment. It is more universal, efficient, secure, and fair than its private sector counterparts are or could be.”

Larson’s legislation—which was introduced in January, on FDR’s 137th birthday—would increase Social Security benefits for all current and future recipients, set the minimum benefit level to 25 percent greater than the federal poverty line, and improve the annual cost of living adjustment to ensure benefits are not eroded by inflation.

To finance the benefit expansion, Larson’s bill would subject all earnings above $400,000 to a payroll tax.

“No one should retire into poverty,” advocacy group MoveOn tweeted Thursday. “Rep. John Larson’s Secure 2100 Act increases the minimum monthly Social Security benefit, ensuring seniors can retire in dignity.”

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Watch the full Ways and Means Committee hearing:


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2020 Election

Jeff Sessions ridiculed after losing GOP primary for his old Senate seat in Alabama

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Former Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) attempted a political comeback by running in the GOP primary for the Senate seat he long held.

Sessions resigned the seat to serve as President Donald Trump's attorney general, before the two had a falling out.

"On Tuesday, Mr. Sessions lost the Alabama Senate Republican runoff election to Tommy Tuberville, a former Auburn University football coach whose platform was largely a blanket promise to support the president at all times," The New York Times reports. The Daily Beast also projected that Tuberville had won.

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Senior Trump advisor says a senior White House advisor ‘has been wrong about everything’

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On Tuesday, in an op-ed for USA TODAY, White House trade adviser Peter Navarro attacked the nation's foremost infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, claiming that he "has been wrong about everything I have interacted with him on."

"In late January, when I was making the case on behalf of the president to take down the flights from China, Fauci fought against the president’s courageous decision — which might well have saved hundreds of thousands of American lives," wrote Navarro. "When I warned in late January in a memo of a possibly deadly pandemic, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases was telling the news media not to worry."

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CNN

Anderson Cooper tears into Trump for lying about coronavirus death rate: ‘This is just ludicrous’

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On CNN Tuesday, anchor Anderson Cooper led his show with a searing indictment of President Donald Trump for his ongoing lies about his management of the coronavirus pandemic.

Cooper particularly took umbrage at Trump's claim, at the day's Rose Garden press conference, that "we have just about the lowest mortality rate" and only seem to have more cases because "we do tremendous testing. We have the best testing in the world."

"This is just ludicrous," said Cooper. "This is the president of the United States. More than 130,000 people dead in this country and he's continuing this ridiculous lie, it's nonsensical. It defies any belief. We shouldn't be surprised because this is what he does. This is one of president's favorite lies. The United States is not the best or close to it in deaths — it's the seventh-worst in the world. The testing doesn't discover them. According to Redfield and others, the cases we know about are probably far underestimating the actual spread of this virus."

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