Support Begich bill to strengthen Social Security w/o salary cap

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):

Begich Proposes Changes to Strengthen Social Security

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!

GP

To follow or send links: @Gaius_Publius


Gaius Publius is a professional writer living on the West Coast of the United States. Click here for more. Follow him on Twitter @Gaius_Publius and Facebook.

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  • Moderator3

    You have jumped into a thread that’s more than a month old. I wouldn’t expect a reply if I were you.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Bill-Betzen/543333746 Bill Betzen

    I am puzzled. The income distribution tables I have seen, and then projecting forward a year to 2013, it appears that half of all income is above the cap. Is that not true?

  • Powkat

    Republicans have been looking for an excuse to get ride of Social Security for 75 years – this is just their latest ploy. We need to keep fighting back and thank you Sen. Begich for standing up for we the people.

  • rmthunter

    You’re right — all the talk about “increased life expectancy” as an excuse to raise the retirement age is fine, if you work a desk job. If your job involves strenuous physical labor, not so much.

  • rmthunter

    Benefits are fully funded until sometime between 2032 and 2041, depending on whose analysis you read. Also, Treasury bonds have due dates — they get paid back automatically. It would take an act of Congress to stop that (and that might not even work — certainly no one who voted for it would survive the next election). And no, raising the retirement age is not OK. That’s just another way to screw the people who have been paying into the fund.

  • FunMe

    GREAT bill! Meanwhile, only 15 comments with mine, do people not care?

  • TechGrrl1972

    I live in Kentucky, so I wasting time, money, and electrons trying to convince my two senators of anything isn’t on the table. Can I send money to Senator Begich, instead?

  • A reader in Colorado

    No, the federal government. Democrats too talk about robbing the Social Security system by securing new revenues in order to avoid paying what they already owe.

  • hewhoasks

    This is all about preserving Social Security for younger workers who are told they’d better let the forces of the right yank it away because otherwise the forces on the right will yank it away. (I know: stupid. But that is pretty much exactly what is going on. The right has for a long time engaged in a drumbeat of propaganda about how Social Security could disappear. When they’re saying that they pretty much always leave out any mention of the fact that they are the ones who would do it. No doubt they’re more up front when they’re addressing rich supporters in private functions.)

  • hewhoasks

    If the tax on Social Security benefits for those with significant other income were increased I’d pay more. I’m also an American: do it.

  • samizdat

    Well, lowering the retirement age would certainly help in the professions/trades that see the most strenuous applications of labor: Masonry, nursing and nursing home work (for the latter, most of that really difficult labor is performed by women; the number of back injuries is proportionally higher in those instances), construction/demo/laborer, some industrial work, and a number of other fields, as well. Forcing someone in these areas to work past 60 or 62 is inhumane. They don’t call this stuff “back-breaking” labor for nothing. As someone who sustained a herniated disk in my lower spine from industrial work, I can tell you from experience that it is no fun.

  • hewhoasks

    Not the federal government, the right.

  • A reader in Colorado

    The Federal Government is showing bad faith by this talk of reneging on their debts, stealing from present and future retirees, whom they owe. Raising the retirement age is ok, but not if they don’t pay their debts to Social Security.

    I want them to begin paying back the Social Security Trust Fund. That means cashing T-Bills to fund benefits.

  • http://twitter.com/ptelder Kenneth Brown

    If you click through to the “fact sheet”, it looks like the revenue increases they’re talking about are a 7 year phasing of the payroll tax cap removal.

  • wmforr

    Getting rid of the salary cap would make me pay more.

    But since I am not a Me-Me-Me Republican, I support the measure. Do I want to pay more if there are visible results to our country? Of course I do. My name is not Koch. I’m an American.

  • nicho

    They don’t even need to remove it entirely. The cap — and the regular increases — were designed so that the tax would cover 90 percent of the income in the country. However, with growing income disparity, a greater proportion of income is going to those above the cap. The tax now covers less than 80 percent of the income in the country. That is the sole source of the problem — not the baby boomers, the increase in life expectancy, or any of the other cover stories that they use. Raise the cap, cover 90 percent of the income, and the problem is solved. Period.

  • FLL

    Looks like Harry Reid isn’t into selling out Social Security, or even tweaking it:

    “I’ve made it very clear. I’ve told anyone that will listen, including everyone in the White House, including the president, that I am not going to be part of having Social Security as part of these talks relating to this deficit.” Associated Press

  • MichaelS

    The Social Security tax is actually the single most REGRESSIVE tax in our entire system. This bill improves that flaw, but only slightly, bringing it into line with the Medicare tax — thus making the entire FICA tax a FLAT TAX. That’s STILL a very regressive tax, and – of course – the dream of the far-right tax reformers. So let’s not deceive ourselves… We’re talking about a 7.65% FLAT TAX here for everyone (except the self-employed, who’ll pay 15.30%). No, no, no no… it should be reformed at the same time to be graduated, just like current tax rates are. Start at 2%, then 4.5%, then max out at 7.65%.

  • OtterQueen

    Any thoughts on a proposal to lower the retirement age to 55?

    http://www.thomhartmann.com/blog/2009/08/cash-geezers-lower-retirement-age-55-now

    It seems like it would work, but I may be missing something.

  • Eyeball_Kid

    At last! Something that makes sense!

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