Conservatives Want To Cut Social Security Benefits-- Progressives Want To Expand Them
The video above, from a Democratic congressional conference introducing an expansion of Social Security, includes statements by two Maryland congressmembers who are running for the Senate: one, Donna Edwards, who you expect to see at this kind of announcement, and one, Chris Van Hollen, who was forced into coming because of earlier support for the Simpson-Bowles proposals that would have cut Social Security benefits.
Van Hollen's support for cutting Social Security-- while Donna Edwards fought tooth and nail against Simpson-Bowles-- has become an issue in the Maryland Senate race. Van Hollen is smart enough to know he has to be seen on the side of Democratic voters on this issue-- even if he still hasn't explicitly renounced his support for Simpson-Bowles. Donna has always advocated scrapping the cap. Perhaps Van Hollen will follow her lead and the lead of other progressives. That's good... but who do Maryland voters want to elevate to the Senate: the Member who responds to progressive pressure or the Member who's been working tirelessly down in the trenches with progressives from the beginning? Donna referred to the difference, subtly, in a letter to her supporters yesterday:
"With corporations doing less and less for retiring workers, our approach to Social Security must be absolute and non-negotiable.First, she needs our help to make that a reality.
We need to do more-- not less-- to make sure seniors can meet basic living expenses even as healthcare and housing costs rise.
This morning, I joined with my colleagues in reintroducing an important bill that would protect and expand Social Security. There were a number of new faces, but I have always been there... Let me say it again. We need to be expand Social Security benefits. We must never cut them. As a United States Senator, that is exactly what I will do."
|Donna Edwards on Social Security expansion|
Yesterday, the Huffington Post put the bill into context.
As congressional Republicans push a wish-list budget that would dramatically cut government safety net programs, their Democratic counterparts are jumping on a bill to expand Social Security benefits and shore up the program's finances.By the way, this morning, EMILY's List announced that they're supporting Donna Edwards candidacy, a bad signal for the more conservative woman potential candidate, Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake. Stephanie Schriock: "Donna Edwards is a true progressive champion with an outstanding record of fighting for women and families in Congress. The EMILY’s List community-- now over three million members strong-- is committed to keeping this seat in the hands of a courageous Democratic woman."
Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), the top Democrat on the House Budget Committee, endorsed the legislation at a press conference Tuesday.
"You don't save Social Security by cutting Social Security," said Van Hollen, who previously endorsed a proposal that would trim Social Security benefits and is currently campaigning for a Senate seat in Maryland.
The Democrats' legislation, introduced this week by Rep. John Larson (D-Conn.), would expand benefits by giving retirees and disabled workers larger annual cost-of-living increases, and would improve the program's finances through higher taxes. Social Security's retirement insurance program has a $2.6 trillion trust fundthat will be depleted by 2035, with projected incoming payroll taxes at that point only enough to cover roughly 80 percent of scheduled benefits.
This week I spoke at length with Alex Law, a progressive candidate for Congress from the New Jersey district (NJ-01) across the Delaware River from Philly. He'll be running against the corrupt Norcross Machine (in the person of Donald Norcross). When Alex is sworn into Congress in 2016, he'll be just 25 years old, the minimum age the Constitution allows for a House Member. But Social Security recipients have nothing to worry about by electing someone as young as Alex. One of the first things he started talking to me about was changing the way the cap works so that the very wealthy pay the same part of their income that working families pay. "The House Republicans’ budget proposal that would repeal Obamacare and transform vital programs like Medicare is a fundamentally wrong vision for this country. Rather than dismantle programs that protect our citizens, we should be looking for ways to strengthen and improve them. We cannot allow Republicans to ignore Social Security. I support Congressman Larson’s plan to expand the Social Security payroll tax to income over 400,000 dollars, which will secure the program for the next 75 years. My generation must carry the flag forward and continue to champion healthcare for all and Social Security. When I am in Washington, I will be among the loudest voices defending these crucially important progressive ideals."