Social Security represents America’s promise that after a lifetime of hard work and paying into the system, senior citizens have earned greater financial security in their golden years, free from abject poverty. Americans expect that when their leaders give their word, they keep it.
Social Security remains strong and solvent, but only for the next 17 years. After that, it faces a shortfall, only able to pay 75 percent of its promised benefits. Rather than breaking our promise to our seniors, and forcing retirees to shoulder benefit cuts that some have proposed – across the board cuts, inadequate cost of living adjustments, and privatization – Congress should instead work together to keep America’s word and strengthen Social Security.
One way to strengthen Social Security is to do what’s known as “scrapping the cap.” Americans only contribute to Social Security on the first $127,200 in income earned every year. That makes no sense. Why should the very wealthiest get a tax break, when nurses, electricians, and grocery store clerks pay into the system on 100 percent of their earnings? Closing this loophole would extend the program for at least another generation.
With my first bill, the Save Social Security Act, we are keeping our promise to our seniors and strengthening Social Security. This legislation eliminates the Social Security tax break for people making over $300,000 a year, while maintaining it for income earned from the current cap of $127,200 up to $300,000. This is a fairer way to extend the life of the program. In fact, the Chief Actuary of the Social Security Administration found that my legislation would extend the program’s solvency for another 30 years, keeping it on firm financial footing through 2064. At that point, it would also close 2/3 of the remaining gap, allowing Social Security to still pay 90 percent of benefits.
But our fight to protect seniors doesn’t stop there. My bill also ends the nonsensical practice of “double taxation” on Social Security benefits for middle class seniors. Currently, many seniors pay taxes when they receive their Social Security benefits, even though they were taxed to create those benefits throughout their working lives. That’s wrong! Providing a tax cut to middle class seniors while increasing the sustainability of Social Security is something everyone in Congress can – and should – agree on.
Seniors have earned their Social Security benefits. It is our duty as elected representatives to protect them, which strengthens the fabric of our nation, making our society healthier and our communities stronger.
The opinions expressed in “Congressional Corner” reflect the views of the writer and are not necessarily those of TSCL.