Social Security: The Swiss Army Knife of American public policy

social securityThe next time you hear a Very Serious Person’s pronouncement about Social Security’s supposedly impending doom, remember: an individual’s interest in seeing Social Security thrive is usually a) inversely proportional to their wealth but b) directly proportional to their empathy for others.

How else to explain the effort by the Trump administration and certain members of Congress to pull the economic rug out from under a huge swath of Americans by cutting Social Security?

In Washington state alone, nearly 1.3 million residents receive Social Security benefits – that’s 18% of our state’s population, who in turn provide income for 30% of the state’s households. But the benefits of Social Security go far beyond that:

  • Social Security supports the young, middle-aged, and elderly: It’s commonly thought of as something for retired people, but that’s only partly true: While 75% of recipients in Washington (969,835 people) are age 65 or older, 19% (245,536) of beneficiaries are age 18-64 and 6% (75,827) are under 18.
  • Social Security is a remarkably effective anti-poverty program: Social Security dramatically reduces poverty among the elderly in Washington, from 35.1% to 7.4%. Retirement benefits are modest, averaging $1,379/month ($16,549/year) – but without them, an additional 301,000 Washingtonians age 65 or older would have lived in poverty in 2015.
  • Social Security protects children and families against tragedy: For 98% of Washington’s 1.6+ million children and families, Social Security is the primary insurance protection in the event a parent or spouse dies or is disabled. In 2016, over 109,000 widow(er)s and children in Washington received an average $1,219/month ($14,631/year); over 211,000 disabled workers and their families received an average $1,061/month ($12,737/year).
  • Social Security bolsters local economies across the state: In 2016, Social Security benefits were equivalent to 5.2% of Washington’s total personal income, and generated more than $31 billion in economic activity, 192,000 jobs and $1.5 billion in state and local tax revenue. In December of that year, nearly $1.7 billion in Social Security benefits went directly to local economies across the state, from King County (288,000 people, $406 million) to Garfield County (660 people, $808,000).

Reducing benefits, limiting COLAs and/or increasing the retirement age will diminish economic security for nearly every American. It will disproportionately affect low- and middle-income families, women and all workers of color who, unlike wealthy individuals, often do not have significant retirement savings and must work further into old age in more difficult and physically demanding jobs.

For years, Americans have been subjected to a relentless PR campaign aimed at convincing them that Social Security probably won’t be there when they retire. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Social Security is the nation’s most secure and conservatively invested public trust. In anticipation of the “baby-boomer” generation’s retirement, Congress increased payroll taxes and reduced future benefits for millions of Americans in the early 1980’s, building a large surplus in the Social Security Trust Fund. The latest Trust Fund report projects Social Security can pay all benefits in full and on time until 2034, and 75% of benefits thereafter.

Federal lawmakers should be building on that strong foundation by making Social Security payroll taxes more equitable. While 94% of American workers (approx. 151 million people) pay Social Security tax on every paycheck, most of the earnings of the top 1 percent – and especially the top 0.1 percent – escape Social Security taxes.

That’s because workers and their employers each pay 6.2% of wages toward Social Security – but there’s a cap on taxable earnings. As a result, workers earning less than the cap ($127,200 in 2017) pay a higher Social Security payroll tax rate than those who make more.

Congress set the cap in 1977 and indexed it to average wage growth, intending it to cover 90% of all wages. But over the past several decades, wage growth among lower- and middle-income Americans has slowed, while wages at the top have grown dramatically. As a result, the cap now covers just 82% of aggregate wages.

That rising inequality in earnings accounts for 43.5% of the projected shortfall in Social Security funding I mentioned above. Put another way: if the cap on taxable income had continued to cover 90% of total earnings since 1983, the Trust Fund would have at least an additional $1.1 trillion today.

Scrapping the cap now would extend the Trust Fund’s surplus until 2087 – easily far enough in the future for policymakers to make additional adjustments if necessary. Only the richest 6.1% of workers (less than 1 in 15) would pay more. It’s a popular idea: two-thirds of Americans support requiring high-income workers to pay Social Security taxes on all of their wages (as is already the case with Medicare taxes).

To ensure Social Security continues protecting the economic security of working Americans, lawmakers should also expand and improve Social Security for workers and families, by:

Raising benefits overall: Adjusting the benefit formula to raise benefits for those who have had careers in low-wage occupations – such as childcare, restaurant service, or home health care – would better protect the financial security of people just scraping by, particularly older women and people of color.

Protecting the very elderly: Living to extreme old age, or outliving (or not having) a spouse greatly increases the risk of poverty. “Bump-ups” in benefits for seniors living past a certain age and increasing benefits for elderly widows and widowers would reduce financial insecurity among the most vulnerable people in our communities.

Honoring time caring for family: Caring for children or aging family members can cause many people, especially women, to reduce their hours or stop working, greatly affecting their retirement benefits. Reducing the number of years’ earnings used to calculate retirement benefits from 35 to 30 or 28 can eliminate this caregiving penalty. It would also help Millennials and others who had reduced access to employment due to economic downturns.

Restoring student survivor benefits: Before 1981, children of retired, deceased, or disabled workers continued receiving benefits through age 22 if they attended college. Now benefits end once a young person turns 18 and finishes high school. Reinstating college benefits could help children and their families achieve their dreams, as well as reduce socioeconomic barriers to education and lifetime opportunities.

Adopting the CPI-E inflation index: Over the past eight years, the current COLA formula has led to average monthly benefit increases of just over 1% and no increase at all in three of those years. The 2016 COLA was just 0.3%, or about $4.00/month for the average senior – barely the average cost of one Lipitor pill. Adopting the consumer price index for the elderly, or CPI-E, would be a more accurate means of calculating adequate Social Security COLAs.

Restoring office access & services: The Social Security Administration’s (SSA) expenses are self-funded and account for less than one penny of every dollar spent. While demand for SSA services (and staff workloads) have risen to record highs, over the past six years, the SSA’s operating budget has shrunk by 10% (after adjusting for inflation) due to Congressional budget cuts. This has resulted in the closure of one field office and the loss of 776 employees in Washington. Restoring full funding would help ensure people have dependable and easily accessible in-person service at Social Security offices, often at critical moments in their lives.

Social Security reduces poverty, protects kids and families, stimulates local economies, and promotes a dignified retirement. And contrary to what its wealthy opponents would have you believe, Social Security is not only fiscally sound – it’s ready for an upgrade. It’s time to “Scrap the Cap” and expand and improve Social Security to create a more equitable and secure future for all Americans.

More info. about the sources linked above is available in our latest Social Security fact sheet: Delivering on the promise of Social Security: America’s pension plan »

Originally published at EOI Online

Resolution in Support of Accessible Community-Based Social Security Administration Service Delivery

WHEREAS record numbers of clients are visiting and calling Social Security Administration (SSA) offices to receive the services and benefits that they have earned over a lifetime of work, and facing record waiting times before finally having the chance to speak to an SSA employee trained to assist in navigating the agency’s complex programs; and

WHEREAS SSA has cut hours and is eliminating certain services at field offices in these times of greatest need, while aggressively steering the public to Internet self-disservice both inside and outside of those offices; and

WHEREAS identity thieves have had an easy time filing fraudulent Internet retirement applications that rob the Social Security trust funds, because there is no authentication of applicant identities; and

WHEREAS the monthly payments of an estimated 120,000 beneficiaries have so far been redirected to the bank accounts of thieves because MySSA is neither safe nor secure; and

WHEREAS SSA has closed over 70 field offices and 1500 contact stations in recent years, and placed many of the remaining offices in locations that are costly and difficult for elderly, disabled, and low-income clients to reach; and

WHEREAS SSA Acting Commissioner Carolyn Colvin now says she will consider additional office closures on a case-by-case-basis, following an 18-month moratorium on closures due to adverse public and Congressional reaction; and

WHEREAS SA claims to be responding to growing public demand for Internet self-service, but a November 2014 public policy polling survey revealed that only 11% to 13 % of respondents wanted to file for retirement benefits or for replacement Social Security Cards online rather than at a field office, with only 3% to 4% of those under 30 years of age wanting that option; and

WHEREAS over 1 million Americans, many of them veterans, are waiting for decisions on their disability benefit application appeals, many enduring years of delay from the date of filing to receive a final decision; and

WHEREAS austere administrative budgets and inadequate front-line staffing have crippled the
SSA’s ability to provide the prompt, equitable, accurate services that American workers have paid for and deserve, even though trust fund surpluses have grown to $2.8 trillion, and administration of the Social Security program consumes less than 1% of annual program income;

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the 34th Legislative Democrats ask that SSA office hours should first be restored and then expanded; and

THEREFORE BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that closed offices be reopened, that offices with access problems be moved, and that the overall number of offices be expanded; and

THEREFORE BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the SSA should take down the fraud-plagued Internet retirement application and MySSA systems until they can be made safe and secure; and

THEREFORE BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that since most SSA administrative costs are reimbursed from trust funds that are in surplus, and because some of the surplus is desperately needed now to fund front-line staffing increases for much-needed service improvements, the SSA’s administrative accounts be taken off-budget in order to shield the accounts from sequestration cuts and other fiscal attacks; and

THEREFORE BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED that the 34th Legislative Democrats send copies of this resolution to our Congressional delegation and to the Seattle and national SSA offices.

Submitted to the 34th Legislative District Democrats meeting of January 13, 2016 by Martha Koester, Democratic PCO, Sylvan Precinct

Social Security: Why It's Not Broke & How We Can Expand It

When: Monday, February 23, 7 – 8:30 p.m.
What: Forum: “Social Security: Why It’s Not Broke & How We Can Expand It”
Speakers: Nancy Altman & Eric Kingson, authors of Social Security WORKS!: Why Social Security Isn’t Going Broke & How Expanding It Will Help Us All
Joining them on the program: Seattle City Council Member Kshama Sawant & WA State Labor Council President, Jeff Johnson

Where: UFCW 21, Joe Crump Hall, 5030 First Ave. S., Seattle

Things have heated up in D.C. as the Republican controlled Congress has initiated their first major attack on Social Security. The featured speakers will provide us up-to-date information about the attacks and the best ways to respond.

Forum on Expanding Social Security in Seattle Monday 2/23

Nancy Altman will be one of the featured speakers in a forum on Monday, February 23, in Seattle entitled “Social Security – Why It’s Not Broke and How We Can Expand It”. Joining Ms. Altman on the program will be Seattle City Council member, Kshama Sawant, and Washington State Labor Council President, Jeff Johnson.

Social Security Works! Why Social Security Isn’t Going Broke and How Expanding It Will Help Us All, is the recently released book by Ms. Altman and her co-author, Eric Kingson. Ms. Altman has a thirty-five year background in the areas of Social Security and private pensions. She is co-director of Social Security Works and co-chair of the Strengthen Social Security coalition and campaign. She previously authored The Battle for Social Security: From FDR’s Vision to Bush’s Gamble (John Wiley & Sons, 2005).

The Seattle forum is part of a campaign to expand the growing chorus of voices in Congress and elsewhere calling for the expansion of our Social Security system. We know that Social Security is not “going broke” and also does not add a penny to the national debt. We are fighting against the three-decade-long, billionaire-funded campaign to make us believe that Social Security is destined to collapse.

With the decline in defined benefit pensions and the total inadequacy of 401(ks), there is a looming retirement crisis that will affect more than two- thirds of today’s workers. Social Security is a powerful program that can help stop the collapse of the middle class, lessen the pressure squeezing families from all directions, and help end the upward redistribution of wealth that has resulted in perilous levels of inequality.

All Americans deserve to have dignified retirement years as well as an umbrella to protect them and their families in the event of disability or premature death. At stake are our values and the kind of country we want for ourselves and for those that follow. From the Silent Generation to Baby Boomers, from Generation X to Millennials and Generation Z, all of us have a stake in understanding the real story about Social Security.

Ms. Altman is the Chair of the Board of Directors of the Pension Rights Center, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the protection of beneficiary rights. She is also on the Board of Directors of the National Academy of Social Insurance, a membership organization of over 800 of the nation’s leading experts on social insurance.

From 1983 to 1989, Ms. Altman was on the faculty of Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government and taught courses on private pensions and Social Security at the Harvard Law School. In 1982, she was Alan Greenspan’s assistant in his position as chairman of the bipartisan commission that developed the 1983 Social Security amendments.

Please plan to attend this exciting, movement-building forum on Monday, Feb. 23, from 7:00-8:30 p.m. at Joe Crump Hall, UFCW 21, 5030 First Avenue S., Seattle.

Increase wages to protect Social Security Trust Fund

This week the Social Security Trustees reported that our FICA contributions plus interest, net of all benefits paid out, have increased the Social Security Trust Fund by $32 billion. The trustees also forecast that Social Security benefits are completely sustainable for the next two decades.

The media hasn’t played these reports up much, perhaps because they don’t fit into the narrative that finances for Social Security are collapsing and the only way to save Social Security is to dismantle benefits now… That’s a solution akin to amputating someone’s foot now, because he might get gangrene 20 years from now.

We shouldn’t disregard the financing of Social Security two decades from now. But the “solutions” proposed by the guardians of privilege only add to the recipe of redistributing money upwards to the already wealthy and powerful. We have had enough of that over the past 35 years.

The Social Security Trustees forecast projected revenue and costs for 10 and 75 years into the future. Obviously, this is at best a “guestimate.” The trustees can’t foresee each economic downturn. They can’t foresee immigration and the Social Security contributions of these immigrant workers. The guessing is educated, but not accurate. In 1986, the trustees predicted that the Social Security Trust Fund would run out of money in 2051. Then in 1994 they predicted that the trust fund would be drawn down to zero in 2029. Now their “prediction” is for 2033.

The funny thing is that the trust fund was purposely built up in anticipation of baby boomers retiring, and intended to be drawn down to help finance their retirement. So while the guardians of privilege see a problem with this drawdown, it is actually the model developed by one of their own, Alan Greenspan, the former chair of the Fed. And when the trust fund is drawn down, it won’t result in the demise of Social Security. Up to 1981, Social Security was pretty much a pay-as-you-go program, with current revenues from taxes paying for current benefits. That is still the way it is for the 80 percent of benefits.

In developing their forecasts, the trustees include a factor estimating worker productivity increases. But while productivity increases were proportionately shared between workers and corporations after World War II, in the recent decades these increases have accrued more and more solely to corporations. That detracts from Social Security contributions through FICA taxes.

There is a simple way to increase contributions to Social Security, insure sustainability of benefits, and actually increase those benefits. Increase the minimum wage, and have all wages reflect increases in productivity. For every $1 increase in wages, Social Security receives 12.4 cents. Increasing the minimum wage to $10 an hour for the 3.6 million American workers who make $7.25 or less would bring a minimum of $2.5 billion each year into the Social Security Trust Fund. If we were to increase wages by $2 for the one-fifth of all workers who make less than $10 an hour, the trust fund would gain $11 billion each year. That equals more than the combined Social Security benefits for over 750,000 recipients.

We often forget about the interconnections between different facets of our economy. If we continue to hold wages down, and not adjust them upwards for productivity, we let more and more income slide into corporate profits, and hundreds of billions of dollars is exported to other economies via the outsourcing of production. It also means that the social programs Americans hold closest to their hearts and depend on for their economic security are undermined by a diminished stream of revenue, that is, FICA taxes. We are willing to pay those taxes. But we can’t when our wages stagnate.

Here is why the effort for increasing the minimum wage is so important. We not only begin to insure that workers will get appropriate compensation (and respect), but in turn, these workers and their employers, through FICA taxes, build up Social Security funds for current and future retirees. It’s mutually beneficial, for all of us.

Via The Everett Herald 

Stop the 50 “Ribble Republicans” from cutting Social Security and Medicare

Our federal government is being held hostage by a band of Republican extremists who want to radically re-shape our country.

While Republicans have made high-profile attempts to defund President Obama’s signature health care law, that’s not their only target.

50 House Republicans, led by Rep. Reid Ribble of Wisconsin , sent a letter to Speaker Boehner urging him to make cuts to Social Security benefits before the debt ceiling is raised and our government re-opened.

Paul Ryan has published an op-ed asking for the same thing: Cuts to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid in exchange for an increase to the debt ceiling.

Rep. Ribble’s ideas about Social Security reads like a wish list straight out of the Romney/Ryan play book:

• Raising the retirement age
• Slashing annual cost of living adjustments through a new formula known as “Chained CPI”
• Means testing for Social Security recipients

Cutting benefits for those most in need is outrageous enough. Demanding them as a precondition for funding the government and ensuring we don’t default on our national debt obligations is both reckless and irresponsible.

Our Social Security system needs to be expanded, not cut. Cost of living adjustments already struggle to keep up with the rising costs that seniors face every day. If these “Ribble Republicans” get their way, everyone who receives Social Security now, or who will receive it in the future, will see less and less in return for what they paid in over their lives.

Speak out today and tell these extremists to stop their hostage-taking.

  1. Sign the online petitionshttp://www.credomobilize.com/petitions/ribble-republicans-are-coming-for-your-social-security
    http://www.strengthensocialsecurity.org/colacut
    http://action.usaction.org/p/dia/action3/common/public/?action_KEY=579&track=taf
  2. Tell Congress to stop talking about our EARNED BENEFITS as if Social Security was some kind of welfare program. entitlementreform@mail.house.gov
  3. Get more representatives to sign on to expanding Social Security
    Tom Harkin’s Strengthen Social Security Senate bill 567 has been joined by a House Bill 3116 sponsored by Rep Loretta Sanchez. Only Jim McDermott has so far cosponsored this. Ask our other representatives to do so.
    http://www.harkin.senate.gov/press/release.cfm?i=341035
  4. Check out the following articles
    “Cost-saving adjustments to Social Security and Medicare” on the table again?
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/on-day-3-of-shutdown-focus-turns-to-debt-ceiling-deadline/2013/10/03/21f42abc-2c24-11e3-8ade-a1f23cda135e_story.html
    Both sides agree that a potential deal could involve replacing deep budget cuts known as the sequester with cost-saving adjustments to Social Security and Medicare, such as using a less generous measure of inflation to calculate cost-of-living changes.Dean Baker | Will Seniors Have to Pay for President Obama’s Victory on Budget Standoff?
    http://www.nationofchange.org/will-seniors-have-pay-president-obama-s-victory-budget-standoff-1381242031
    Whacking seniors with a cut to their Social Security and higher medical expenses makes this situation worse, not better. It means that they will have less money to spend, further reducing demand in the economy.
  5. Phone, fax and snail mail contact information for all WA State congressional representatives are further below. Free faxes at http://faxzero.com/ and http://www.gotfreefax.com/. Email, for obvious reasons, is restricted to constituents. Phones and faxes are not. For critical issues, consider adding faxes to your activist arsenal. Sometimes staff will ask your address when you call. If you don’t live in the representative’s district, explain that you are holding all members of Congress responsible for avoiding cuts to our lifeline programs.

A note on free faxes: they must be from a valid email address. When you send a fax, they send it first to your email address and give you a link to click on. Only clicking the link you got by email will send the fax. Limit 2 per day, no more than 3 pages. For $10/month you can send more faxes and more pages. If you want to ramp up your activities as an online activist, and can afford it, this would be a good investment.


Addresses of all Washington State members of US Congress

Senator Patty Murray
448 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510

District Office:

2988 Jackson Federal Building
915 2nd Avenue
Seattle, Washington 98174


Senator Maria Cantwell

311 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510

District Office:

915 Second Avenue
Suite 512
Seattle, WA 98174

 

Representative Adam Smith (WA-09)
2264 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515

District Office:
101 Evergreen Building
15 S. Grady Way
Renton, WA 98057

 

Representative Jim McDermott (WA-07)
1035 Longworth House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515

District Office:

1809 7th Avenue, Suite 1212
Seattle, WA 98101-1399

 

Representative Derek Kilmer (WA-06)

1429 Longworth House Office Building
Washington, DC 2051

District Office:

950 Pacific Avenue, Suite 1230
Tacoma, WA 98402

District Office:

345 6th St, Suite 500
Bremerton, WA 98337

Representative Suzan DelBene (WA-01)
318 Cannon House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515

District Office:

Canyon Park Business Center,
22121 17th Ave SE, Bldg E, Suite 220
Bothell, WA 98021

 

 

Representative Rick Larsen (WA-02)

2113 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515

 

 

District Office:

2930 Wetmore Avenue, Suite 9F
Everett, WA 98201

District Office:

119 North Commercial Street Suite 1350
Bellingham , WA 98225

 

Representative Denny Heck (WA-10)

425 Cannon House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515

District Office:

6000 Main St SW
Lakewood, WA 98499

District Office:

420 College Street SE
Lacey, WA 98503

Representative Dave Reichert (WA-08)
1127 Longworth House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515

District Office:

22605 SE 56th Street Suite 130
Issaquah, WA 98029

 

Representative Doc Hastings (WA-04)
1203 Longworth House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515-4704

District Office:

2715 Saint Andrews Loop, Suite D
Pasco, WA 99301

District Office:

402 E. Yakima Avenue, Suite 760
Yakima, WA 98901

 

Rep. Cathy McMorris-Rodgers (WA-05)
2421 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515

District Office:

29 South Palouse Street
Walla Walla, WA 99362

District Office:

10 North Post, Suite 625
Spokane, WA 99201

District Office:

555 South Main Street
Colville, WA 99114

Rep. Jaime Hererra-Beutler (WA-03)

1130 Longworth House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515

District Office:

O.O. Howard House (Officers’ Row)
750 Anderson Street, Suite B
Vancouver, WA 98661

District Office:

Chehalis City Hall Building
350 N. Market Blvd
Chehalis, WA 98532


Phones and Faxes of all Washington State members of US Congress

Senator Patty Murray senator_murray@murray.senate.gov
Web:http://www.senate.gov/~murray/

http://www.senate.gov/~murray/contact.html

Phone: (202) 224-2621
Fax: (202) 224-0238

District Phone: (206) 553-5545
Fax: (206) 553-0891


Senator Maria Cantwell

http://cantwell.senate.gov/

Phone: 202-224-3441
Fax:
202-228-0514
District Phone:
206-220-6400
Fax:
206-220-6404

 

Representative Adam Smith
Web: http://adamsmith.house.gov/contact/

Phone: (202) 225-8901
Fax: (202) 225-5893
District Phone: (425)793-5180
Toll Free: (888) 764-8409
District FAX:
(425)793-5181

 

Representative Jim McDermott
http://www.house.gov/mcdermott/contact.shtml

Phone: (202) 225-3106
Fax: (202) 225-6197
District Phone:
(206) 553-7170
District FAX:
(206) 553-7175

 

Representative Derek Kilmer

http://kilmer.house.gov/contact/email-me

Phone: 202-225-5916
Fax:
District Phone: (253) 272-3515
District Phone: (360) 373-9725

 

Representative Suzan DelBene

https://delbene.house.gov/contact-me

Phone: 202-225-6311
Fax: 202-226-1606

District Phone: (425) 485-0085
District FAX: (425) 485-0083

 

Representative Rick Larsen

http://larsen.house.gov/contact-rick/email-rick

Phone: 202-225-2605
Fax: 202-225-4420

District Phone: 425-252-3188
District FAX: 425-252-6606
District Phone: 360-733-4500
District FAX: 360-733-5144

 

Representative Denny Heck

http://dennyheck.house.gov/contact

Phone: 202-225-9740
Fax: 202-225-0129
District Phone: 253-208-6172
District Phone: 360-459-8514

 

Representative Dave Reichert

https://reichert.house.gov/contact-me/email-me

Phone: 202-225-7761
Fax: 202-225-4282
District Phone: (425) 677-7414
Toll Free: (877) 920-9208
District FAX: (425) 270-3589

 

Representative Doc Hastings

http://hastings.house.gov/contact/

Phone: 202-225-5816
Fax: 202-225-3251

District Phone: 509-543-9396
District FAX: 509-545-1972

District Phone: (509) 452-3243
District FAX: (509) 452-3438

 

Rep. Cathy McMorris-Rodgers

https://mcmorrisforms.house.gov/write-to-cathy1

Phone: 202-225-2006
Fax: 202-225-3392

District Phone: 509-684-3481
District FAX: 509-353-2412

District Phone: 509-684-3481
District Phone: 509-529-9358

Representative Jaime Hererra-Beutler

http://herrerabeutler.house.gov/contact/

Phone: 202-225-3536
Fax: 202-225-3478
District Phone: 360-695-6292
District FAX: 360-695-6197

 

 

 

 

Demonstrate on Labor Day to protect Social Security and Medicare

Demonstrate & March on Labor Day for:

Social Security & Medicare

Preserve Them! Strengthen Them! Pass Them On!

Labor Day, September 2, 2013

The annual Labor Day Celebration sponsored by the Martin Luther King Jr. County LaborCouncil is the venue for this demonstration.

People arriving later than 10 a.m. can meet us at N 50th & Greenlake AV N

 The picnic begins at 11 a.m.

  Sponsored by Social Security Works WA, M.L. King County Labor Council & Puget Sound Advocates for Retirement Action (PSARA)


Robby Stern of Washington State Labor Council reports:

I am pleased to report that Rep. Jim McDermott has become an original co-sponsor of Rep. Sanchez’s “Strengthen Social Security Act”, which is the companion bill to the Harkin-Begich bill, S. 567 that has been introduced in the U.S. Senate.

This bill is designed to increase benefits for current beneficiaries while making Social Security stronger for future generations. By updating the current benefit formula, benefits for current beneficiaries will be increased to provide a better standard of living.
To extend the life of the trust fund, the Strengthening Social Security Act would phase out the current taxable cap of $113,700, so that payroll taxes apply fairly to every dollar of wages. By improving the long-term financial condition of the trust fund, future generations will be able to receive the benefits they have earned while providing fairer benefits to current seniors.

The bill would make sure that benefits better reflect the increasing costs facing seniors today by changing to the way cost-of-living adjustments are calculated. This is crucial for seniors facing the daunting challenge of meeting their healthcare needs.

The changes are estimated to preserve the trust fund through at least 2049. While more needs to be done to preserve and protect Social Security for future generations, the changes included in the Strengthening Social Security Act of 2013 are an important step.

Resolution in Opposition to Cuts in Social Security

We have adopted the following Resolution in Opposition to Cuts in Social Security. The full text is below. At our last meeting it was urged that our members take this resolution to their LD and County Democratic organization to seek adoption.

As we edge closer to this issue being taken up in Congress, it’s especially important to send our representatives a message.
There is no guarentee that our Democrats in Congress will not compromise. Please consider introducing and advocating the adoption of this resolution at your next County or LD meeting.

In Solidarity,
Judith Shattuck, Chair
Washington State Progressive Caucus

******************************************************

Resolution in Opposition to Cuts in Social Security

Whereas the current cost-of-living adjustments (COLAs) applied annually to Social Security benefits and other government programs already fail to account for the higher inflation seniors experience due to their disproportionately higher health care costs; andWhereas the proposal to subject COLAs to a so-called “chained” CPI (consumer price index) would result in an estimated 0.3% yearly reduction in those COLAs, amounting to an average annual reduction of about $130 per Social Security recipient, and a 9.2% reduction (almost $1400/year) by the time current 65-year-olds reach age 95; and

Whereas the concept of a chained CPI is based on the false premise that, as prices rise, consumers will simply shift their purchasing to less expensive goods and services, while many expenses unavoidable for seniors, such as drugs, health care services, food and property taxes, continue to rise inexorably; and

Whereas, in addition to over 56 million Social Security recipients, there are more than 15 million SSI and VA beneficiaries and military and federal civil service retirees who will be affected; and

Whereas the impact of those reductions will be greatest on those who begin to draw benefits at an earlier age (e.g., military and disabled), and on those who live the longest – typically women who have outlived their other sources of income, depleted their assets, and rely on these benefits as their lifeline to financial stability; and

Whereas generations currently coming of age (a) will have reduced lifetime earnings due to the ongoing recession, (b) will face unprecedented levels of student loan debt and are highly unlikely to ever have defined benefits pensions (and research has shown that 401(k) programs fail to sufficiently prepare Americans for retirement), and (c) will therefore be even more dependent than current retirees on adequate funding of Social Security and realistic COLA calculations; and

Whereas Social Security can be made solvent for at least 75 years, and its benefits increased, by the simple expedient of subjecting all earned income to the FICA tax; and

Whereas cutting Social Security and other safety-net programs would seriously jeopardize the American social contract that has been in place since the New Deal; and

Whereas two-thirds of poll respondents over 50 (Democrats, Republicans and Independents) have said they’ll be less likely to support anyone who backs President Obama’s proposal to implement a chained CPI, which will result in severe negative repercussions for our Party in 2014 and 2016 if implemented; and

Whereas the Washington State Democratic Central Committee adopted, on April 27, 2013, a Resolution based on substantially the same factual assertions set forth above and concluding by urging our state’s Democratic Congressional Delegation to refuse to pass a budget that includes cuts to Social Security and other benefits by implementing a chained CPI;

Therefore, be it resolved that we are in full accord with our State Democratic counterparts and specifically call on our own Democratic Representatives and Senators to refuse to support any budget proposal that subjects COLAs in Social Security and other programs to a chained CPI; and

Be it further resolved that, going forward, we will refuse to endorse or support any federal candidate that either votes for or advocates for cuts to Social Security, and that all candidates seeking our endorsement or support should be made aware of this policy.

Adopted June 25, 2013, by King County Democratic Central Committee;
Adopted July 9, 2012, by Washington State Progressive Caucus

Labor Day action for Soc. Sec. & Medicare

Demonstrate & March on Labor Day for:

Social Security & Medicare

Preserve Them! Strengthen Them! Pass Them On!

Labor Day, September 2, 2013

The annual Labor Day Celebration sponsored by the Martin Luther King Jr. County LaborCouncil is the venue for this demonstration.

People arriving later than 10 a.m. can meet us at N 50th & Greenlake AV N

 

The picnic begins at 11 a.m.

 

 Sponsored by Social Security Works WA, M.L. King County Labor Council & Puget Sound Advocates for Retirement Action (PSARA)

 

 

Protect Social Security, not the 1%

Representatives Rick Larsen and Jim McDermott have signed the Ciccline letter “Expressing the sense of the Congress that the Chained Consumer Price Index should not be used to calculate cost-of-living adjustments for Social Security benefits.”  And Rep. McDermott has signed several other  letters in support of Social Security (see table below).

But no Washington State House member has signed the Grayson-Takano letter which states: “We will vote against any and every cut to Medicare, Medicaid, or Social Security benefits — including raising the retirement age or cutting the cost of living adjustments that our constituents earned and need.” See  http://other98.com/take-the-no-cuts-to-social-security-pledge/#wa.

There is no expectation that Republicans would oppose cuts to Social Security, but it is disturbing that not even Jim McDermott has signed the Grayson-Takano letter, given that Social Security has not contributed a penny to the deficits and given that rich corporations enjoy numerous tax breaks, no-bid contracts, bailouts, and other forms of government largesse (including the trillions of dollars wasted in disastrous wars, military spending and the security apparatus).

So-called “centrist” Democrats such as Adam Smith and Suzan DelBene are members of the business-friendly New Democrats, not the Progressive Caucus.   They have shown lukewarm support for Social Security.   If you speak with them they portray themselves as being “responsible” stewards of the economy, willing to push back against constituents’ requests for handouts.  But Social Security is no handout.  We earned and paid for it, and it has not contributed to the deficit.   Yes,  centrist Dems are better than Republicans (in the way that Rodney Tom and Barack Obama are better than Republicans), but that’s not setting a very high bar for Democrats. See Adam Smith and Suzan DelBene defend their votes on Social Security and the budget.

Our lawmakers should know: King County Dems resolve to withhold endorsement from candidates who advocate cuts to Social Security.

Here are the names and phone numbers of Washington State’s Congressional delegation. Please call and ask them to defend Social Security.

Name District Phone Grayson-Takano Cicciline Shakowsky-Ellison-Grijalva Ellison-Crowley Grijalva-Ellison Grijalva-Conyers-Maffei CPC
Totals 44 (6) 113 107 86 29 87 73

Source:  http://other98.com/take-the-no-cuts-to-social-security-pledge/#wa