Proponents and progressive lawmakers on Sunday celebrated the 87th anniversary of Social Security — one of the most popular and successful federal programs in U.S. history — and warned its modest benefits are under serious threat as Republicans openly declare their desire to undermine the mainstay of the New Deal, a move that would plunge millions into poverty.
“Let’s expand Social Security and remove the cap.”
For months, the Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) has been urging the Democratic leadership to bring forward a bill to expand Social Security, push GOP lawmakers and advance a key legislative priority. The CPC warned Sunday that the program is currently “under attack by Republicans” and that Social Security disability insurance is “not keeping up with rising costs.”
“We must pass Social Security 2100 to protect and expand this vital service,” the caucus added, citing Rep. John Larson (D-Conn.) to increase Social Security monthly benefits — an increase that would be paid by lifting the payroll tax cap that would allow the wealthy to stop paying the program early each year.
This year, millionaires stopped contributing to Social Security on February 24 due to the payroll tax cap.
In June, Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) introduced a measure that would increase the average annual Social Security benefits by $2,400 and ensure that the program is fully funded for the next seven and half a decade.
“In America, 55% of seniors are trying to survive on less than $25,000 a year, while billionaires pay the same in Social Security as someone who makes $147,000,” Sanders wrote in a Twitter post to mark the 87th anniversary of Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s signing into law of the 1935 Social Security Act.
“Let’s put an end to that absurdity,” Sanders added about the payroll tax cap. “Let’s expand Social Security and remove the cap.”
By contrast, former President Donald Trump — a likely candidate for 2024 — has said he wants to “end payroll taxes,” a move that would destroy the Social Security and Medicare funding mechanism.
Social Security’s 87th anniversary comes as Republican lawmakers and congressional candidates face backlash for suggesting the program should be placed on the chopping block, spreading well-worn lies about its financial health.
Earlier this month, Senator Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) — who will face progressive challenger Mandela Barnes in November — argued that Social Security and health care should be turned into “discretionary” programs, opening the door to budget cuts.
sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.), chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, released a plan earlier this year that would halt all federal programs — including Social Security and health care — every five years unless Congress explicitly votes to restart them. to authorize.
“That would undermine the Social Security guarantee and create enormous uncertainty for millions of beneficiaries,” notes Nancy Altman, the president of Social Security Works. “It would provide tremendous leverage for Social Security opponents in Congress to make draconian cuts even when they’re out of control, thanks to the unconstitutional requirement of 60 Senate votes for almost everything.”
GOP congressional candidates have also expressed their willingness to focus on Social Security. Blake Masters, the far-right Republican nominee for the US Senate in Arizona, said in June that “maybe we should privatize Social Security,” an unpopular stance among American voters.
“Private retirement accounts, get the government out,” Masters added.
A recent analysis showed that Social Security benefits in 2020 kept nearly 22.5 million adults and children above the poverty line with modest monthly payments. In June 2022, the average Social Security retirement benefit was just over $1,623.
“Social Security was founded to this day 87 years ago,” Charles Booker, a progressive senator who served as Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) – a former proponent of privatization – wants to evict.tweeted Sunday. “Right now my opponent wants to team up with Rick Scott to put a chainsaw on it.”
“I am running for Senate to protect your benefits,” Booker added, “and fulfill the promise to the American people.”
John Fetterman, the Democratic Senate candidate from Pennsylvania, sent a similar message on Sunday, he called Social Security “critical lifeline for PA’s seniors”.
“Whenever Dr. Oz or the GOP try to take these hard-earned benefits from our seniors, I will always fight back,” Fetterman said.
Progressives have also drawn attention to potential threats to Social Security from the Biden administration. In July, proponents of the program sounded alarm over President Joe Biden’s silent nomination of a longtime privatization advocate to serve on the Social Security Advisory Board.
Andrew Biggs has advocated for Social Security cuts throughout his career, Social Security Works be aware. “And now he’s been nominated to oversee Social Security. The Senate can and must block this terrible nomination.”