Democrat Lisa McCormick released the following statement concerning the future of Social Security, the nation’s retirement insurance system designed to protect workers.
CONGRESS SHOULD EXPAND SOCIAL SECURITY BENEFITS – NOT CUT THEM.
With corporations cutting worker pensions, our grandparents and veterans need Social Security more — not less. We must preserve, protect, strengthen and expand Social Security and Medicare. Medicare is the bedrock of health care coverage for more than 50 million American seniors and people with disabilities.
Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman says, “The truth is that we really should be increasing Social Security benefits… Social Security is the last defined-benefit pension still standing.”
For 80 years, Social Security has been America at its best. Social Security reflects our shared belief that every American should be able to retire with dignity after decades of hard work. That no American should face poverty because he or she is disabled, or when a loved one dies. That we all have an obligation to each other.
Republicans are using scare tactics about the future and effectiveness of Social Security to push through policies that would jeopardize it. Clearly, Republicans want to cut or privatize successful programs that have kept seniors alive and out of poverty.
I will always defend Social Security against Republican attacks, fight any attempts to gamble seniors’ retirement funds on the stock market through privatization, oppose reducing cost-of-living adjustments or increasing the retirement age.
Women who are widows and those who took significant time out of the paid workforce to take care of their children, aging parents, or ailing family members deserve to be credited for their important labors by Social Security. I am tired of hearing about ‘family values’ from people who obviously do not value families and the loved ones who comprise them.
Millions of women—and men—take time out of the paid workforce to raise a child, take care of an aging parent or look after an ailing family member. Care giving is hard work that benefits our entire economy.
However, when Americans take time off to take care of a relative, that can reduce their Social Security benefits at retirement, since those benefits are calculated based on their top 35 years of earnings. No one should face meager Social Security checks because they took on the vital role of caregiver for part of their career. Americans should receive credit toward their Social Security benefits when they are out of the paid workforce because they are acting as caregivers.
The poverty rate for widowed women 65 or older is nearly 90 percent higher than for other seniors—in part because when a spouse dies, families can face a steep benefit cut. For a two-earner couple, those benefit cuts can be as much as 50 percent. Lisa will work to correct the injustice of allowing an elderly woman to face crushing economic burdens at the same time they endure the painful loss of the man she loved.
We can best preserve Social Security for decades by asking the wealthiest Americans to contribute more. Social Security must continue to guarantee dignity in retirement for future generations, and the way to accomplish that goal is simply by asking the highest-income Americans to pay more.
If working people can pay taxes on the first dollar they earn, people making more than $250,000 a year can share some of their income above the current cap and taxing unearned income, which is not currently subject to Social Security taxes.
Senators Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) and Mark Begich (D-Alaska) agree. Even better, they’re doing something about it. Unlike the President’s proposal to cut Social Security benefits, Harkin and Begich would give a worker $452 more per year by age 75 and $807 more by age 85.
And they would make millionaires and billionaires pay their fair share by “scrapping the cap” on what wealthy people pay into Social Security. This would pay for the benefit expansion and extend Social Security’s solvency for decades. We’re working directly with Senators Harkin and Begich to move these bills forward. Join us!
Social Security is the most successful government program in our nation’s history. Before it was signed into law, nearly half of senior citizens lived in poverty. Today, the elderly poverty rate is 10 percent. Although still much too high, that’s a dramatic improvement.
Through good times and bad, Social Security has paid every nickel owed to every eligible American – on time and without delay. As corporations destroyed the retirement dreams of millions over the past 30 years by eliminating defined benefit pension plans, Social Security was right there paying full benefits. As millions of Americans lost their life savings after Wall Street’s recklessness crashed the economy in 2008, Social Security was right there paying full benefits.
Today, Social Security is more important than ever. Over half of workers between the ages of 55-64 have no retirement savings. More than a third of senior citizens depend on Social Security for virtually all of their income. One out of every five senior citizens is trying to scrape by on an average income of just $8,300 a year.
Given these facts, our job cannot be to cut Social Security. Our job must be to expand it so that every American can retire with dignity and respect.
Virtually every Republican candidate for president disagrees. Many of them claim Social Security is “going broke,” that it’s causing the deficit to explode, and its trust fund is full of IOUs.
They want the American people to believe Social Security is in crisis and must be cut.
They are dead wrong.
Here are the facts:
- Social Security has a $2.8 trillion surplus. It can pay every benefit owed to every eligible American for the next 19 years (and more than three-quarters after that).
- Social Security’s assets aren’t “just paper,” as conservatives sometimes put it. Social Security invests in U.S Treasury bonds, the safest interest-bearing securities in the world. These are the same bonds wealthy investors have purchased, along with China and other foreign countries. These bonds are backed by the full faith and credit of the U.S. government, which in our long history has never defaulted on its debt obligations.
- Right now a billionaire pays the same amount of money into Social Security as someone who makes $118,500 a year. That’s because there is a cap on taxable income that goes into the Social Security system.
- Sen. Bernie Sanders introduced legislation to end this absurdity, by lifting this cap so that everyone who makes over $250,000 a year pays the same percentage of their income into Social Security as the middle class and working families.
This would not only extend the solvency of Social Security for the next 50 years, but also bring in enough revenue to expand benefits by an average of $65 a month; increase cost-of-living-adjustments; and lift more seniors out of poverty by increasing the minimum benefits paid to low-income seniors.
Not only is this the right thing to do from a moral perspective, it is also what the vast majority of the American people want us to do. 61 percent of the American people support expanding Social Security benefits by lifting the cap on taxable income, according to reliable polls.
At a time when millions of Americans are working longer hours for lower wages, even as virtually all of the new income in this country is going to the top one percent, Sen. Sanders’ legislation will begin to reduce the obscene level of income inequality in America.
It’s time to expand Social Security to make sure that everyone in this country can retire with the dignity and respect they deserve.