Expand Social Security

Have you ever heard anyone on Social Security complain about it?  Me either.  Why complain about getting a check every month.  The only people who complain about it are asshole politicians and rich people.  Everyone else knows that Social Security works and works well.  That’s why this is such a great idea, Dem Senators: We’re Doing It Wrong, Let’s Expand Social Security.

In a town consumed by how quickly and how deeply to cut Social Security, a handful of Democratic senators have a different idea: expand it.

Their pitch is to grow Social Security benefits by attaching it to a new formula, known as CPI-E (Consumer Price Index for the Elderly), which is based on the theory that seniors face higher-than-average price increases, such as on health care and housing. It would be paid for by phasing out the cap on wages subject to the payroll tax, which is currently $113,700. Supporters say this would raise Social Security compensation for all beneficiaries by $70 per month.

Legislation to this effect was introduced earlier this spring by Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA), the chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor & Pensions Committee. The Strengthening Social Security Act of 2013 has since been co-sponsored by Sens. Brian Schatz (D-HI), Mark Begich (D-AK) and Sherrod Brown (D-OH), who added his name this week.

Progressive activists are touting the bill, eager to shift the terms of the debate from how much to cut retirement benefits to ways to increase them. The AFL-CIO, the nation’s largest labor union, wants to expand Social Security. Liberal activist groups including MoveOn.org and the Progressive Change Campaign Committee have made it their new rallying cry.

“Senator Brown’s endorsement of expanding Social Security benefits is a clear sign that Democrats are ready to go on offense after winning the government shutdown, after years of playing defense,” said PCCC’s co-founder Adam Green. “[O]ur polling shows that expanding benefits is super popular even in deep red states like Texas and Kentucky. Progressives are on offense, and we’re not looking back.”

More here, Liberal push to expand Social Security gains steam.

Senator Sherrod Brown is joining the push to expand Social Security, and he’s making a startling argument: Dems should go on offense on entitlements, rather than let Republicans and Beltway fiscal scolds frame the discussion as one over how much benefits should be cut, not one over whether they should be cut at all.

[…]

With Washington chatter centered on a “grand bargain” or at least a “mini bargain” that might involve entitlement cuts, expanding Social Security might seem like a dead end. But when I pushed Brown on whether Dems would rally behind the idea — after all, Chained CPI is in the President’s budget — he insisted Dems should not cooperate in allowing a “Serious” center-right consensus that equates “fiscal responsibility” with cutting entitlement benefits to reign unchallenged.

“The Serious People — with a capital S and a capital P — all have really good pensions and good health care and good salaries,” Brown said. “Raise the cap. There are ways we can bring a lot of money into Social Security. Some Democrats are a bit cowed by the Serious People.”

Brown argues that if Republicans push for Social Security benefits cuts as part of any deal, Dems should counter with the Harkin proposal to shift the terms of the debate in a Democratic direction. Democratic priorities, he said, should be centered on the idea that declining pensions and wages (and savings) are undermining retirement security, and added that the public strongly opposed gutting social insurance.

“The situation for seniors is only going to get worse, because the assault on pensions and wages is making it more and more difficult for a worker to save for the future,” Brown said. “Why are we having a debate over how much we are going to hurt seniors? The debate should be over how we should structure a pension for seniors that will help them. Why would we play on their playing field? Democrats need to play offense here. Force Republicans to say what it is they really want to do. Republicans just don’t like social insurance.”

Or we can just go with Atrios, MOOOOARRRRRRRRRRRRRR SOCIAL SECURITY:

Obviously I support it both on the merits and as a strategy for making sure people don’t support making things worse.

Get enough politicians on the record for supporting increases, and at the very least it’ll be much harder for them to support cuts.

But benefits really need to be expanded. The 401K experiment has been a disaster.

Social Security is the best anti-poverty program in American history. No doubt it should be expanded. It’s good politics and the right thing to do.

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