Following President Donald Trump’s claims that the Democrats are trying to cut Social Security at a recent campaign rally in Montana, Senators Bernie Sanders (I-VT), and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), along with Reps. John Larson (D-CT), and Debbie Dingell (D-MI), joined seniors and aging advocates at a press conference to announce the creation of the Expand Social Security Caucus. Currently, the new Democratic Congressional caucus has over 146 members, including 16 Senators.
The new caucus will continue to push for the expansion of Social Security, a key Democratic legislative issue in the upcoming midterm election, just 50 days away. Currently, there are over a dozen bills that have already been introduced in Congress to expand and strengthen Social Security to provide income for the nation’s retirees. Look for more bills to be thrown into the legislative hopper next year and Congressional hearings on Social Security, especially if the Democrats take control of the Senate and House.
According to the caucus, the Social Security program keeps older Americans financially afloat. “Last year alone, Social Security lifted 22 million Americans, including more than 15 million seniors, out of poverty. Before Social Security, nearly half of the nation’s seniors were living in poverty.”
Putting the Spotlight on Social Security
The Expand Social Security Caucus, consisting of both House and Senate lawmakers, is chaired by Sanders and Warren in the Senate and by Larson, Dingell, Terri A. Sewell (D-AL), Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ), and Rep. Conor Lamb (D-PA) in the House. Rhode Island Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, along with Rep. David Cicilline and Rep. James Langevine, are members of the House caucus.
At the September 13th press conference, held in room 403 of the Dirksen Senate office building, Senate Co-Chairs Sanders and Warren put the spotlight on Social Security, making it a key Democratic issue for the upcoming midterm election, over 50 days away.
Sanders said, “We are here today to say very loud and clearly that at a time when millions of seniors are trying to survive on $12,000 or $13,000 a year, our job is not to cut Social Security. Our job is to expand Social Security so that everyone in America can retire with dignity and respect.”
“Social Security is a lifeline for seniors and Americans with disabilities. We won’t let it be cut by one cent – and instead we will fight to expand it,” Warren said. “The rich and powerful have rigged our economy to make themselves richer, while working families face a massive retirement crisis,” she says.
“Social Security is not an entitlement. It’s the insurance that American workers have paid for. The members of this caucus will always fight for Social Security and the workers who have earned their benefits, said Larson, who co-chairs the caucus in the House.
“We applaud members of the House and Senate for advancing a cause we are 100% committed to the expansion of Social Security for the 62 million Americans who depend on the program for basic financial security. In 2013, we launched our Boost Social Security Now campaign to advocate higher benefits and more accurate cost-of-living adjustments (among other improvements) for retirees and people with disabilities. With almost half of retirees depending on Social Security for all or most of their income at a time of rising living expenses, boosting benefits is the only just and sustainable path forward,” says Max Richtman, President and CEO of the National Committee.
A Strategy to Strengthening and Expanding Social Security
Opposing the GOP’s attempt to cut and privatize Social Security, Richtman says the National Committee’s “Boost Social Security Now” campaign includes specific policies to expand and strengthen the program. These including: raising the cap on Social Security payroll contributions (currently set at $128,400 in annual income); increasing the basic benefit for current and future retirees; providing Social Security credits to assist family caregivers; and replacing the current inflation index to calculate cost-of-living adjustments with the Consumer Price Index for the Elderly (CPI-E), this index more accurately reflects seniors’ expenses. These expansion measures stand in stark opposition to the conservative agenda to cut Social Security.
Joining the caucus leadership and NCPSSM, were Social Security Works, the Alliance for Retired Americans, the Paralyzed Veterans of America, Latinos for a Secure Retirement, the American Federation of Government Employees, the Arc of the United States, the Center for Responsible Lending and Global Policy Solutions.