End Mass Criminalization of Black and Brown Youth

End Racism and Discrimination

End Homelessness Now

Expand and Protect Social Security

Support Labor, Jobs for All

The People's Budget

Gender-Neutral Treatment - The Equal Rights Amendment

Wednesday, 23 July 2014 00:00

It's time to expand Social Security, not cut it, Sen. Sherrod Brown says

Written by Stephen Koff | Cleveland Plain Dealer

Democrats and their supporters must stand up to Republicans who want to dismantle or cut Social Security benefits – and then they must expand, not curtail, those benefits, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown said Tuesday.

In a speech at a liberal think tank, the Center for American Progress, the Ohio Democrat laid down a marker for what he says should be a cornerstone of progressive policy.

Many Republicans no longer openly suggest partially privatizing the retirement program as they did during President George W. Bush's administration and in recent presidential primaries. But Republicans in Congress including Ohio Republican Sen. Rob Portman have called for paring back benefits from Americans who jointly get Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) payments and unemployment benefits.

Saying that more than 100,000 recipients "double dip," Republicans earlier this year proposed new restrictions as a way to get money to pay for extended federal unemployment benefits.

President Barack Obama has discussed cutting double benefits as well. According to a Government Accountability Office estimate, at least 117,000 Americans got a total of $575 million in unemployment benefits in 2010 after losing their jobs, while also getting $281 million in disability payments because they were considered unable to work.

Defenders of the dual payments note that SSDI allows recipients to work in some low-wage jobs and still get disability benefits – and when they lose those jobs, their small level of unemployment benefits tides them over until they can go back to work. It is a small cushion that other unemployed workers get, according to the liberal Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

The unemployment-extension idea failed to win congressional approval. But more recently, Republicans have proposed ending dual SSDI and unemployment payments and using the savings to help pay for repairing the nation's highways and bridges.

Other Republicans say SSDI is rife with abuse.

Brown and a number of allies reject that claim. Less than 1 percent of the beneficiaries in SSDI and unemployment programs receive benefits from both, according to the Congressional Research Service, and the money they get represents less than half a percent of the outlays of either program.

Brown says that Republicans and "enemies" of Social Security are trying to separate the disability and retirement programs, characterizing one as good and the other as bad, as a way to "divide and conquer" while building support to harm both programs.

"They praise 'good' Social Security," Brown said. "Good Social Security," he said, is "what members of Congress's mothers get."

"They attack 'bad' Social Security – that's the disability trust fund, which they say is rife with fraud and abuse and undermines 'good' Social Security. We need to recognize these attacks for what they are: backdoor attempts to dismantle and privatize Social Security by discrediting disability insurance."

Conservatives, Brown said, "don't want to save Social Security. They want to end Social Security. It means we need to do more than defend the program and play defense. We need to play offense and expand the program."

Nine million Americans get SSDI benefits that average $1,130 a month. But nearly two-thirds of those who apply are denied benefits, said Neera Tanden, president of the Center for American Progress.

The program faces financial pressure, with benefits payments projected to exceed SSDI tax revenue and reserves in 2016.

But Brown and others say the financial issues can be solved with administrative fixes and with a minor change to the taxes that fund both the disability and the retirement portions of Social Security.

Congress has allowed such administrative changes 11 times before.

Most workers pay 6.2 percent of their incomes for Social Security – 5.3 percent for the Old Age and Survivors Insurance trust fund and 0.9 percent to the SSDI trust fund. Raising the SSDI tax rate by 0.2 percent would make SSDI solvent for the next 75 years, according to the National Academy of Social Insurance.

When incomes exceed $117,000, they are no longer taxed for Social Security. But Brown and others say that lifting this "earnings cap" could end fears that the combined old-age and disability program will see reserves run out in 2033.

Brown wants to expand Social Security by tying annual cost-of-living benefit increases more closely to expenses that retirees face.

And he and other Democrats want to add a new benefit: paid family and medical leave for workers who need to care for loved ones. One Democratic proposal would provide up to 12 weeks of paid leave, with benefits up to 66 percent of typical wages.

This could be funded by a fee of 0.2 percent on employers' and workers' wages, a sum that Brown said is far from punitive. The United States is one of only a handful of industrialized nations that do not have such a policy, according to the Center for American Progress.

"The debate over Social Security should not be about how much we can cut from the program in order to balance the federal budget," Brown said. "The debate over Social Security should not be about raising the retirement age or limiting benefits. The debate over Social Security should be about retirement security."

Link to original article from The Cleveland Plain Dealer

Read 3452 times Last modified on Wednesday, 03 December 2014 01:23

Latest Economic and Social Justice News

  • 1

Willie Nelson - Keeping the Postal Service Alive

Email President Obama Stop the Dakota Access Pipeline

Featured News

  • Veterans Arrive at Standing Rock to Act as 'Human Shields' for Water Protectors +

    As tensions grow in North Dakota, with multiple eviction orders facing the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe in their battle against Read More
  • Michigan Fights To Avoid Delivering Water To Flint Residents +

    The ongoing crisis has left the city without safe drinking water for over two years, but the state claims water Read More
  • The System IS Rigged!—The Electoral College and the 2016 Election +

    Donald Trump was right: the system is rigged! But it is rigged for the Republicans, not the Democrats, for conservatives, Read More
  • BREAKING: Cop Who Shot Keith Scott on Video Will Not Be Charged +

    The Charlotte police officer who killed Keith Lamont Scott will not be charged. In a news conference on Wednesday, R. Andrew Read More
  • Army Corps Says It Won’t Forcibly Evict Standing Rock Water Protectors, But Refuse To Elaborate +

    In a follow-up of its letter to leaders of the Standing Rock Sioux and Cheyenne River Sioux Tribes, the U.S. Read More
  • DAPL Investors Getting Antsy: If Pipeline Doesn’t Move Oil by January First the Contract EXPIRES +

    Though water protectors have held their ground at Standing Rock against the Dakota Access pipeline for months now, they need Read More
  • WV Supreme Court: No Pipeline Surveys for Private Gain +

    West Virginia property owners won an important case at the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals on Tuesday when that Read More
  • Clinton Campaign Joins Jill Stein’s Recount Of Votes In Wisconsin +

    Hillary Clinton’s campaign on Saturday announced they would participate in former Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein’s recount of the Read More
  • Sioux Tribe Leader Responds to Army Corps Eviction Letter With Ominous Warning to US Gov’t +

    In response to the altogether shocking announcement the Army Corps of Engineers will be evicting water protectors from the Oceti Read More
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6
  • 7
  • 8
  • 9
  • 10
  • 11
  • 12
  • 13
  • 14
  • 15
  • 16
  • 17
  • 18
  • 19
  • 20
  • 21
  • 22

Economic and Social Justice Calls

  • 5-4-2016 Economic and Social Justice Call
    The team explores the concept, economic theories and realities of achieving Full Employment in the current economy. Guests include Conor Williams, the secretary of the Transitional Jobs Collaborative in Milwaukee and Michael Darner, Executive Director of the Congressional Progressive Caucus.
  • 02-03-2016 Economic & Social Justice
    Listen to this month's call led by Jim Carpenter as we discuss the state of our current economy, the impact of poor economic choices, and the other factors that play into the declining situation around the country, and in the world in this open and guided conversation.
  • 01-06-2016 Economic & Social Justice
    PDAction Board Member Donald Whitehead, and former Ex. Dir. of the Coalition for the Homeless leads the discussion on homelessness, with input from Joel Segal, PDAmerica founding member and National Director of the Justice Action Mobilization Network. Special focus is given to the housing crisis, the role of the banks, programs used by other countries to alleviate the problem, as well as the fact that women are the most adversely affected by this issue. H Con Res 98 - Resolve to Eliminate Homelessness - has been introduced in Congress by Rep. Alma Adams (NC-12) and is endorsed on this call.