Legislative Update for Week Ending January 29, 2016

Legislative Update for Week Ending January 29, 2016

This week, action on Capitol Hill was slow. Lawmakers in the House canceled all legislative business due to the winter storm that hit the east coast over the weekend, and those in the Senate returned to Washington for a shortened week of business. However, The Senior Citizens League (TSCL) did see two new cosponsors sign on to a key piece of legislation.

Social Security 2100 Act Gains Cosponsors

This week, two new cosponsors – Reps. Mark DeSaulnier (CA-11) and Robin Kelly (IL-2) – signed on to Rep. John Larson’s (CT-1) Social Security 2100 Act (H.R. 1391). The cosponsor total is now at an all-time high, at seventy-seven.

If signed into law, the Social Security 2100 Act would strengthen Social Security benefits in several ways. First, it would make cost-of-living adjustments (COLAs) more accurate by basing them on a Consumer Price Index for the Elderly (CPI-E). Currently, COLAs are based on the way young, urban workers spend their money, so they fail to capture the true inflation seniors experience.

The bill would also provide a 2 percent benefit bump for the average beneficiary and it would create a new minimum benefit set at 125 percent of the federal poverty line. In addition, more than 11 million seniors would see a significant tax cut, since the bill would double the income threshold for the taxation of benefits from $25,000 per individual to $50,000, and from $32,000 per couple to $100,000.

The Social Security 2100 Act would also strengthen the program’s solvency in a responsible way. It would apply the payroll tax to income over $400,000 so the wealthiest Americans contribute more to the program. Currently, the payroll tax is only applied to the first $118,500 in annual earnings. The bill would also gradually increase the payroll tax rate by 0.05 percent annually until it reaches 7.65 percent. The payroll tax rate currently sits at 6.2 percent for both workers and employers. Together, these two measures would ensure that the program is able to pay out benefits through the year 2100.

Upon introducing the bill, Rep. Larson said, “Social Security remains the nation’s bedrock retirement program and provides vital protection for the disabled and those who have lost a loved one. Many Americans, however, do not believe it will be there for them when they retire. I am proud to announce a common sense path forward today that, not only strengthens benefits now, but ensures Social Security will be here through the next century.”

TSCL supports Rep. Larson’s common sense solution enthusiastically, and we were pleased to see two new lawmakers announce their support for it this week. In the months ahead, we will continue to advocate for the Social Security 2100 Act on Capitol Hill, and we will post updates about the bill’s progress here in the Legislative News section of our website.