Progressives, take note. There’s reaction, guarding the frontier — and pro-action, moving the ball. Both are needed.
We’ve been playing defense (guarding the frontier) on safety net cuts, especially on Social Security. That’s not a bad thing — and we have strong help in the Bernie Sanders lame-duck initiative. (Click to see how you can help with that; your help really is needed.)
Time to go on offense
Time to go on offense as well. Here’s Alaska Senator Mark Begich with a bill to do just that. From the press release (my emphasis and some reparagraphing):
Says Social Security should be taken off the table in fiscal cliff debate
As the Senate returns to Washington to debate how to reduce the federal deficit and avoid severe automatic budget cuts, Sen. Mark Begich announced a new bill to strengthen the Social Security program while making clear the federal budget should not be balanced on the backs of America’s seniors by cutting or privatizing Social Security. …
Entitled the Protecting and Preserving Social Security Act, the bill extends the solvency of Social Security for approximately 75 years by requiring higher-income Americans to pay Social Security on their earnings all year long and adjusting the formula for cost-of-living increases to better reflect the needs of our seniors and persons with disabilities.
How Senator Begich’s Bill Works
• Increases Benefits for Seniors and Persons with Disabilities. Currently, Social Security benefits are adjusted by the Consumer Price Index for workers. However, costs and spending patterns for seniors do not mirror those of the workforce. That is why Sen. Begich’s bill calls for adjusting cost-of-living increases with a Consumer Price Index specifically for the elderly which was created to more accurately measure the costs of goods and services seniors actually buy.
• Lifts the Cap on High-Income Contributions. Current law sets a cap based on income at $113,700 for paying into Social Security. If an individual’s wages hit that total for the year, they no longer pay into the program. Sen. Begich’s bill lifts the cap and asks higher income earners to pay Social Security on all their earnings in order to increase the program’s revenue stream and extend the overall solvency of the program.
• Extends Social Security for approximately 75 years through modest revenue increases gradually implemented over the course of seven years
I have questions about that last bullet — not sure what “revenue increases” includes. But his two main points are exactly right. Kill the salary cap; adjust COLA the right way, to sweeten the benefits, not strangle them.
Way to go, Senator. Thanks.
What you can do
You can help in three ways. (1) Call Senator Begich’s office and thank him. It’s seriously important to let him know that real progressives are behind a real progressive proposal. His DC office number is:
Senator Mark Begich
(202) 224 – 3004
(877) 501 – 6275 (toll-free)
(2) Get behind this bill. If you can publicize it, do. If you can write about it, do. If you can talk about it, do. We need to do our part as well to promote real progressive legislation. The next four years should not be a spectator sport.
(3) Call your senators — both of them — and ask them to co-sign this bill. This needs momentum, and co-signers provide that. The list of Senate phone numbers is here.
Feel free to report back in the comments. This is one to watch. And thanks!
To follow or send links: @Gaius_Publius