California lawmakers ask Congress to pass Social Security bill

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As talks about Social Security reform heat up ahead of the November election, a congressional proposal to expand the federal program has received further approval from California lawmakers.

In August, a joint resolution was passed by both the state senate and its assembly.

Now he’s going to Capitol Hill with one specific goal: to ask California’s representatives in Congress to support the expansion of Social Security by voting in favor of the bill, officially known as Social Security 2100: A Sacred Trust.

“This is the State of California telling Congress that we want you to pass HR 5723,” said California State Senator Nancy Skinner, lead author of the bill.

The latest version of Social Security 2100 was introduced by Rep. John Larson, D-Conn., in October. The event included attendance from high-profile Democrats, including House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal, D-Mass., and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, DN.Y.

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The bill has garnered broad support among Democratic House lawmakers, with 202 co-sponsors. Democrats currently have a majority in the House, with 221 members.

Most California House Democrats have signed on as co-sponsors, with two exceptions: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Rep. Scott Peters. None of their offices responded to requests for comment.

Social security has a period estimated at 13 years during which it can continue to pay all benefits. After that, in 2035, only 80% of benefits will be payable, according to a report by program administrators released in June.

“Social Security is a lifeline for so many people, far more people than the public often realizes,” Skinner said.

Bill would apply payroll taxes to highest earners

Social Security 2100 proposes a key change, according to Skinner, aimed at solving these funding problems: apply Social Security payroll taxes to those with higher incomes.

Currently, only salaries up to $147,000 are subject to these taxes, with employees and employers each paying a rate of 6.2%, for a total of 13.4%.

The ceiling – often called the taxable maximum – is adjusted each year.

California State Senator Nancy Skinner speaks on October 22, 2019 in Newport Beach, California. (Photo by Meg Oliphant/Getty Images)

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Social Security Proposal 2100 calls for reapplying those payroll taxes for wages over $400,000, a change Skinner calls “one of the most important features” of the bill.

“Multi-millionaires and even billionaires pay the same amount to the Social Security system as someone who earns $150,000,” Skinner said.

In California specifically, there’s a small percentage of very high-income people who can afford to contribute more to Social Security, she said.

“The fact that we haven’t adjusted it is part of why we’re going to face a shortfall,” Skinner said.

Social Security 2100 offers a host of other changes to make benefits more generous. This includes a general increase of approximately 2% in the average benefit for new and existing beneficiaries.

It would also raise the minimum benefit to 25% above the federal poverty level. It also seeks to change the way annual cost-of-living adjustments are measured; improve benefits for widows and widowers; increasing access to benefits for some students and children; repeal rules that result in reduced benefits for civil servants; eliminating the five-month waiting period for disability benefits; and create caregiver credits.

Rep. John Larson, D-Conn., and other lawmakers discuss Social Security Bill 2100, which would include an increase in minimum benefits, on Capitol Hill on Oct. 26, 2021.

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How the proposals affect Social Security solvency

The latest proposal would move the depletion date for Social Security funds to 2038, based on an analysis of the bill conducted last year by the Social Security Office of the Chief Actuary.

Most of the provisions to increase social security benefits would last only five years. Consequently, groups such as the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities and the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget favor previous versions of the bill, which had less generous benefit increases but aimed to extend the program’s solvency into the next century. .

A separate bill proposed by Sens. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., introduced this year would push the solvency of the program back 75 years while adding $2,400 a year to benefits. This proposal calls for the payroll tax to be reapplied to income of $250,000 instead of $400,000.

Social Security and the Midterm Elections

As the November election approached, President Joe Biden stepped up social media attacks on Republicans for their Social Security plans.

This week, that included a tweet accusing Sen. Rick Scott of planning to “put Social Security and Medicare on the chopping block.” Scott has denied these allegations.

But fears for the program’s future led Democrats to step up campaigns on behalf of the program ahead of the November election.

Michigan Democratic House lawmakers recently organized a delegation to ask the House to pass Social Security 2100.

Jon Bauman, chair of the Social Security Works Political Action Committee, expects to attend more than 40 events across the country this election cycle.

“I am extremely concerned about candidates who support ending the program, privatizing the program, reducing the program in any way in November,” Bauman said.

“I don’t think that will happen because the program is so popular,” he said. “But is it scary? Yes.

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