On March 12, a petition was delivered to Congress with the signatures of two million citizens calling for Social Security to be expanded, not cut.
“The majority of Americans believe that it’s time to improve benefits and protect the middle class,” said Max Richtman, President of the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare (NCPSSM). Richtman said that two million people had signed petitions demanding no cuts to Social Security and Medicare, asking for a boost to Social Security benefits, opposing the privatization of Social Security, and opposing raising the retirement age.
Richtman said that the organization’s members also opposed a recent rule change by the Republican majority in the U.S. House of Representatives that could result in cuts to Social Security disability insurance benefits.
“Our members have been signing their names on letters and petitions telling Congress that Social Security is one system,” said Richtman. “Retirement, disability, survivor benefits: they’re all part of the same insurance protection that workers pay for throughout their careers, and they have to be preserved.”
The petitions were delivered to Congress at an event attended by Sen. Bernie Sanders, who introduced legislation to expand Social Security on the same day. Sanders said that many seniors depend on Social Security for almost all of their income.
“I’m not quite sure how you live on $13,000 or $14,000 a year,” said Sanders. “But one thing I do know damn well is, you don’t cut those benefits, you expand those benefits.”
Sanders introduced the Social Security Expansion Act, which he said would make the wealthy pay their fair share of Social Security taxes, and increase Social Security benefits for most recipients.
Under current law, the payroll tax that funds Social Security is capped at $118,500 of annual income, so high income earners do not pay any Social Security taxes on income above the cap. Sanders’ proposed legislation would subject all income above $250,000 to the payroll tax, which he said would extend the solvency of the Social Security system for the next 45 years. The bill would also increase benefits by about $65 per month for most recipients, increase the annual cost-of-living adjustment, and provide a minimum benefit to reduce the rate of poverty among seniors.
Sanders also addressed recent actions by Republicans in Congress that could lead to a cut in benefits.
“We have got to send a very clear and loud message — and that’s what your petitions have done — to the Republican leadership in the Senate and the House: stop manufacturing a crisis that does not exist in the Social Security disability insurance program,” said Sanders. “Stop trying to pit senior citizens on fixed incomes against the disabled.”