Congressional Corner: Strengthening Social Security

Congressional Corner: Strengthening Social Security

By Representative Peter DeFazio (OR-4)

There's a lot of talk in D.C. about using Social Security to help pay down the federal deficit. Despite the hype, Social Security is not, and never was, the cause of our deficit. Those spreading these false claims are the same people who have for years been working with Wall Street to privatize the program.

Unfortunately, under the guise of deficit reduction President Obama has proposed reducing your annual cost-of-living increase (COLA) by adopting a new formula called the "Chained CPI." I staunchly oppose this effort, and have offered legislation that would make sure seniors get an accurate COLA.

I introduced H.R. 1030, the Consumer Price Index for Elderly Consumers Act. My bill would finally change the COLA formula to reflect the cost of goods that seniors buy. Currently, the Social Security COLA is calculated using an outdated formula based on the cost of consumer products like laptop computers and iPods, as opposed to goods most often purchased by seniors like prescription drugs, housing, food, and other basics. Healthcare costs are going up at twice the rate of inflation and seniors suffer from those increased costs more than younger Americans. This means that even in years that you do get a COLA, it isn't keeping pace with the increased cost of everyday necessities.

If we want to strengthen Social Security for future generations, we don't need to cut benefits. We need to close an egregious tax loophole that allows millionaires and billionaires to pay a lower percentage of their income into Social Security than everyone else. I have introduced H.R. 1029, the "No Loopholes in Social Security Taxes Act," which preserves Social Security by subjecting all income over $250,000 to the same 6.2 percent Social Security tax rate that middle income Americans pay. My bill guarantees the Social Security Trust Fund will be solvent and pay full benefits for at least 75 years.

We have a choice: we can cut the benefits of future retirees and make them work until 70 or we can close the tax loophole for millionaires and billionaires, and guarantee full benefits for future generations.

Finally, to safeguard the Social Security Trust Fund from being "raided" for other federal priorities, I have introduced H.R. 1031, "The Social Security Protection and Truth in Budgeting Act."

Social Security was created to ensure all Americans could retire with dignity - it wasn't designed to hide federal deficits and serve as a credit card for the Treasury. Nevertheless, over the past 30 years the Treasury has borrowed $2.5 trillion from the Trust Fund and replaced the money with bonds and a future promise to repay. My legislation would prohibit use of the Trust Fund for any non-Social Security use.