Expanding Social Security: Popular from sea to shining sea
© Greg Nash

Today, Rep. John Larson John Barry LarsonWarren introduces universal child care legislation Unchain seniors from chained inflation index A tax increase is simply not the answer to fund Social Security MORE (D-Conn.) introduced his Social Security 2100 Act with over 200 co-sponsors, an incredible level of support. Larson’s simple message resonates loudly in the halls of Congress because it resonates all over America: Expand Social Security!  

As president of Social Security Works PAC, I traveled to every corner of our country last summer and fall, doing endorsement events in 57 congressional campaigns. From Alaska to South Florida, from New Hampshire to Southern California, I managed to do in-person events with 57 of the 75 candidates we endorsed. Every one of our endorsed candidates promised to support expanding Social Security!

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I fought to spread this message from diners to union halls to the halls of the House of Representatives. I witnessed firsthand a groundswell of support on the issue from seniors: a whopping 66 percent of Americans are more likely to support candidates who favor expanding Social Security benefits.

Seniors everywhere wondered why their COLA was so meager; why millionaires and billionaires didn’t pay into Social Security at the same rate they did; why some politicians seemed more intent on cutting the program they loved and relied on than on bolstering and expanding it.

As a result, this election saw a seven percentage-point swing from Republican to Democratic by voters aged 65 and older, from 41 percent support for Democrats in the 2014 midterms to nearly half of seniors supporting them this year, based on CNN exit polling. Seniors gave more money to Democratic candidates for the first time in a midterm election year since donation tracking started in 1990.

So now we have the opportunity to make good on our promise, and it’s time to go to work.

Larson, who is chairman of the House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Social Security, will for the first time hold hearings on expanding Social Security. We are finally going to discuss expansion in real, concrete terms – and we will do everything we can to ensure that the Social Security 2100 Act passes the House of Representatives during this Congress.
Social Security is a modest program, but it’s a modest program that has kept millions of Americans out of poverty. Before Social Security was passed over FIFTY PERCENT of American seniors had incomes below the poverty line! By the most commonly used metric, the poverty rate for seniors has gone from above 50 percent to 8.7 percent. Social Security and Medicare have arguably been the two most successful social programs in American history.

The Larson bill addresses the expansion needs I heard seniors express all over the country. It promises an across-the-board increase in benefits for current and future Social Security beneficiaries. It changes the way cost-of-living increases are calculated. It makes sure there is an increase in the minimum benefit so that no one retires into poverty. And it creates enough additional revenue to keep the system solvent until the end of the 21st century, hence the name “Social Security 2100!”

As a result of our ongoing educational efforts, more and more people are now aware that above $132,900 of income not one more penny is paid into the Social Security program. The wealthy don’t pay into the system at the same rate as the average person, and the fundamental question for Americans is, “Is that fair?” The answer we generally get back is “No!” and “Why don’t millionaires and billionaires pay into the system at the same rate the rest of us do?” The cap adjustments and others outlined in the “Social Security 2100 Act” would ensure the program’s solvency for the rest of this century!

Many of you know my old Sha Na Na theme song, “Goodnight, Sweetheart.” Last year, I sang that “Goodnight” song to dozens of congressional Republicans who lost their seats in the 2018 midterm elections (“Goodnight Dana RohrabacherDana Tyrone RohrabacherThe Hill's Morning Report - Trump, Biden go toe-to-toe in Iowa Ex-GOP lawmakers are face of marijuana blitz Former GOP Rep. Rohrabacher joins board of cannabis company MORE, Well it’s time to go” was a popular favorite.) Next, we are going to sing “Goodnight” to retirement insecurity, “Goodnight” to any American retiring into poverty, and “Goodnight” to Republicans saying we have to cut Social Security to save it!

Americans from every walk of life are standing up and demanding the expansion of Social Security. Hand in hand, we are going to push Congress to pass the “Social Security 2100 Act” out of the House of Representatives, and dare Republicans in the Senate to pass this bill or say “Goodnight” in 2020!

Bauman is president of Social Security Works PAC.