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Dems Unite on Expanding Social Security


Dems Unite on Expanding Social Security

Nika Knight, staff writer

Reflecting widespread and growing public support for the program, expanding Social Security benefits is becoming the Democratic Party line—particularly among Democratic Senate candidates hoping to gain an edge on Republicans in tight races this November.


Well, it is, with Medicare, legally an entitlement, meaning a program outside the budget, and the benefits of which depend on participation in the trust fund through FICA deductions, self-employment taxes, or premiums. Bennet committed the common error of mixing it into the budget and disparaging the category of entitlements, by which such commenters actually mean elements of a true social safety net to which progressives wish the least among us were legally entitled, such as food stamps and unemployment. Entitlements have no means test.


OK, the bill introduced on Friday, referenced in the OP and the linked Roll Call article, is HR 5952. This is one case where I'm going to have to wait for the generation of a summary to figure out how this "expands" or "strengthens" SS, because so far the text looks like an awful lot of striking and inserting to parts of IRS code and past SS laws. But it seems to be a good bit about shifting the burden for funding SS up the income scale.


I checked Clinton's website to see where she stands on this. She has two main points.

"Expand Social Security for those who need it most and who are treated unfairly by the current system—including women who are widows and those who took significant time out of the paid workforce to take care of their children, aging parents, or ailing family members."

"...asking the highest-income Americans to pay more, including options to tax some of their income above the current Social Security cap and taxing some of their income not currently taken into account by the Social Security system."


What we need is a guaranteed basic income for everyone, not just the few who have inherited wealth (often from questionable sources) "earning" income in the stock market.


"becoming the Democratic Party line ..."? seriously, isn't this what the D party claimed to be, supporters of the middle (and working) class? Just what does the wealthy class (both Rs and Ds) mean by "expanding" SS? Raising the retirement age? Cutting payments? What a crock. How hard is it to say "increasing benefits/payments"?

This happens every few years when the Ds need to pretend they are doing something for the working class. They let the Rs bluster about privatizing SS all while the Ds pretend to protect it (exception Obama who broke the mold and put cuts to SS on the table). The public gets worried and thus accepts cuts to benefits or an increase in the age to collect -- all while the Ds boast they "saved" SS. Wa-la the ruling class wins and the working class loses again, and again, and again.

In a just world benefits would be raised, substantially otherwise it is about time to start sending foodstamps with SS checks some seniors are receiving so little.

The best solution to increasing funding to SS is to eliminate the cap on SS taxes. 1%ers have paid all they are going to pay into SS before the end of the first work day of a new year, after that they reap a 6% tax cut for the remainder of the year.

Ten Reasons to Eliminate FICA https://mythfighter.com/2009/09/08/ten-reasons-to-eliminate-fica/ "... eliminate the FICA tax and instead, fund Social Security and Medicare the same way we fund the military and every other federal agency ... The Social Security part of FICA is a severely regressive tax, unfairly impacting the salaried middle classes far more than the non-salaried or upper income classes. Currently, salaries above $102,000 do not pay FICA for Social Security... " The cap is at $118,500 today.

And the band plays on: Supervisor Of "Massive Fraud" At Wells Fargo Leaves Bank With $125 Million Bonus


my guess is she'll say "pretty please" to the "highest-income Americans" in front of the media and then give another dozen or so $200k speeches that she won't release the transcript to.

Hillary's solution to the struggling class is to blame 'em and shame 'em, that is means-test everyone. Social security will be no different, however--IT IS NOT WELFARE. With Hillary each American is going to have a color-coded forehead. The poorest will be forced to wear a large red "L" for loser on their foreheads as they sign on for subsidized college, low cost groceries (aka food stamps), and overpriced, worthless Obamacare, whoopee!


Please check out HR 5952 before you comment on the basis of assumptions and your superior knowledge of what to do.


Increasing benefits to the middle class may induce some to actually retire. Thus, marginally affecting job growth in some sectors. OK, I suppose.The poor will work until they're in the boneyard or an urn, however. A basic income helps the poor and women the most; say, $1500 monthly. What would really relieve pressure in the best way is to; offer a tray of medical and retirement benefits for the poor and working class, collectible in Mexico, El Salvador, Vietnam or Thailand, for example. This would lower the gov'ts housing, transportation and medical costs. And, provide good jobs in countries where the need for American dollars would boost the living standards of young workers, too. I think the 1%ers would pay lots of money to have the homeless, poor and disabled in Saigon or San Salvador. And, never have to see them, again. Works like magic in the PIC and in some divorce cases.:wink:


Didn't know expanding social security was such a "radical" notion. Thought it was pretty commonsensible and part of the whole safety net concept.

I think income assessment is a big problem in the "poverty" equation - one that should eliminated in favor of simply giving everyone a liveable minimum (and by liveable, that means really liveable for an individual - by today's cost of living in the USA, roughly 35-40k per year).

That's direct abolition.

Frankly, I think it should extend to every adult upon age 18 (with exceptions for early emancipated teens) - but we'd be taking a giant step forward if we minimally eliminated poverty for older Americans. Given the fact that people are being pushed out of the workforce earlier - and that it's nearly impossible for many to re-enter - and we have growing numbers of younger people entering for jobs - this expansion should also include a YOUNGER retirement age - or - if you will - a younger age for collecting a liveable universal basic income.

This should, of course (for enlightened Common Dreams readers) include single payer health care - which is similarly an unconditional application. If you''re there - you get it. You can't directly abolish poverty without real quality universal health care.

As far as Clinton's comments are concerned - my guess is that "the devil is in the details." Who will really get this and who won't? Who will be falling through the cracks, still?

The Democrats seem to have a never-ending romance with MAINTAINING poverty at all costs. Indeed, growing it with the New Feudal Order.

I'd find this all more believable if they'd taken the actions they should have taken when they had control over Congress and the presidency. We've already seen how they schtucked everyone on health care.


Parts of the Medicare program are not outside the federal budget. For instance the reimbursement for providing Medicare services. This has been an ongoing concern and battle for years. When the federal budget is in deficit the payments for providing services to Medicare recipients is cut, often on a yearly basis. Sometime the accumulated cuts reach nearly 30%. Then it takes special appeals and sessions and bills to correct this in Congress. This has been a reason access for Medicare services for care is severely limited in some areas. FYI.


HR5952 would increase the average monthly payment $67 IF IT PASSED. That is a pittance especially after three years of no increases under Obama. Next year's increase amounts to the whopping average of $2.70/month! Whole lotta catfood that'll buy. Face it the Ds like the Rs don't give a flip about the working class or as Hillary is so fond of calling 'em: "the basket of deplorables."

"For years, liberal Democrats have fought against proposals to cut Social Security benefits. Now, they’re pushing the party not just to defend benefits but to increase them, and that could present a problem for Hillary Clinton.

The call for higher benefits is a marked difference from recent years in which the White House and Republicans were negotiating deficit-cutting deals, leaving liberals to argue merely for staving off benefit cutbacks. Separately, many experts in both parties have long argued that extending the solvency of the program would require a combination of benefit cuts and tax increases.

But there could be a conflict between this sentiment and the heavy favorite for the party’s 2016 presidential nomination. When Mrs. Clinton last weighed in on Social Security, she supported a bipartisan commission to tackle the program’s long-term financial imbalance. The widespread view was that such a commission would lead to a compromise in which Democrats support benefit cuts in return for Republican support for a tax increase, all to extend the life of the program.

The Center for American Progress, a Democratic-leaning think tank, supports a benefit increase only for the poorest seniors. "


" Freedom in action requires a basic income" - Yanis Varoufakis

Basic Income is a Necessity by Yanis Varoufakis - YouTube


I totally agree with a basic income. Eventually it will come to pass, not because our rulers are benevolent but because they will be forced to do so.

This is not a new idea, Buckminster Fuller (born in 1895) touched on it decades ago:

"We should do away with the absolutely specious notion that everybody has to earn a living. It is a fact today that one in ten thousand of us can make a technological breakthrough capable of supporting all the rest. The youth of today are absolutely right in recognizing this nonsense of earning a living. We keep inventing jobs because of this false idea that everybody has to be employed at some kind of drudgery because, according to Malthusian Darwinian theory he must justify his right to exist. So we have inspectors of inspectors and people making instruments for inspectors to inspect inspectors. The true business of people should be to go back to school and think about whatever it was they were thinking about before somebody came along and told them they had to earn a living.”

and thus make a contribution for the betterment of everyone. Think of all the intellect we are not utilizing due to the fact that even in the US some teenagers have no choice but to leave high school in order to work to help support their family. Rarely can they attend college, much less work in a field that inspires them. A basic income would change this.


Should have been tipped off by "heavy favorite for the party's 2016 presidential nomination" that the WSJ article you linked was not about HR5952, could not be because it's from a year and a half before the bill was introduced. That's about as far as I can read without paying, but that's OK because I don't really care what the WSJ thought then the Dems might have been doing even earlier.

If you've discerned that $67/month from somewhere in the actual bill, I'd be glad to be told where to look; the summary is still "in progress." But indeed, that would buy a lot of cat food. Or relieve me of the choice I have actually had to make (before I began collecting SS benefits — early retirement with permanently reduced benefits, still waiting for disability) between food for my actual cats and milk for myself.


Surprise, surprise! The "Democrats" are
POSING again. Pay attention to the word
"some". This has been done before- GRADUALLY raising the tax cap on rich people's income-
Now, income above $118,500 is EXEMPT from taxation for Soc.Sec. They are just proposing to raise it a little more, again, rather than REMOVE IT. When I work, 100% of my income is taxable. Not so for the rich. Not gonna happen with the Demagogs or
Again, I see nothing about raising Soc.
Sec. recipients UP TO MINIMUM WAGE.
I receive about the avg.- which is TWO DOLLARS AN HOUR BELOW MY CITY
I guess the Dem's don't want seniors and
disabled people to agitate for $15. "Just be
glad if we bring you a little closer to the surface, where you might BREATHE!"


Bernie Sanders submitted a very similar bill in 2015 that shows about a $65-70 initial monthly increase in benefits. I cannot find the article where I found the $67 (as a percentage) amount right now -- it may simply be the general understanding. Sanders and Warren have been petitioning for an increase in SS benefits. While at the same time Hillary is not opposed to cutting benefits and raising retirement age. That's the neoliberal approach vs the real progressives. There has been talk about "strengthening" social security for many years however that phrase means different things to different people. Including cuts, reduction in benefits, raising the retirement age, privatizing, and so on.

Bills introduced by Sanders: In 2015, Estimates of the Financial Effects on Social Security of S. 731, the “Social Security Expansion Act,” legislation introduced on March 12, 2015 by Senator Bernie Sanders. And in 2013 by Sanders: Estimated Financial Effects of the "Keeping Our Social Security Promises Act," legislation introduced as S. 500 (113th Congress) on March 7, 2013 by Senator Bernie Sanders. And again in 2011: Estimated Financial Effects of the proposed Bill to be Named "Keeping Our Social Security Promises Act," Requested by Senator Bernie Sanders.
You can find the PDFs here: https://www.ssa.gov/oact/solvency/

And again $65-70 increase per month doesn't even make up for all the years under Obama that seniors received no increase and the less than $3/month for next year.

"Sea change" my arse -- it is an election year. Nor does Obama want to be remembered as the fake progressive that put cuts to SS on the table with republicans. "When President Barack Obama announced his support this week for expanding Social Security benefits, it was nothing less than a sea change. Progressive activists claimed credit for the move as both a clear nod to their power in the age of Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), and the fruits of ambitious activism that slowly but surely moved the bounds of the mainstream political discussion. Whether Obama’s remarks mark a shift in his policy views, a politically expedient concession to an ascendant progressive wing or something in between, it is an unmistakable indicator of the Democratic Party’s return to its New Deal roots. " Not bloody likely. Imagine this: "The tea party was more useful than Democratic leadership when it came to killing a grand bargain that would have cut Social Security benefits." Yes, republicans depend on SS too. It is popular across the board.

Still working hard to cut SS benefits Obama, hard to tell whose side he's on: "In his second term, Obama even appeared to embrace chained CPI as his own, including it in his annual budget proposal in April 2013, which came after a fierce internal debate, according to one participant. The budget encountered stiff resistance from congressional Democrats and progressive activists, spurring a petition delivery and protest outside the White House where Bernie Sanders spoke. The following year, the provision disappeared from the president’s budget."


I think I'll wait to understand what the actual current proposal referenced in the OP is. I don't see any good use of my time in ranting against "the neoliberal approach." Even if HR5952 turns out to be in the same vein, it won't be bad because it's neolib, but because it's bad. Let's find out.


I agree with you on the terrible waste of potential that takes because one as to develop a skill to make a living and never get the chance to develop their talents.
To be able to do that would be freedom, anything else is just a form of slavery.
And thank you for the quote.