A Birthday Card For Social Security

Happy birthday, Social Security! You’re looking good for a 78-year-old – and it’s no wonder, given how hard you work to keep the nation’s seniors, people with disabilities and survivors financially secure.

I’ve been reading the report done for your birthday by Social Security Works, and it’s a reminder of not only how valuable a program you are, but of how important it is for us to fight to strengthen you, rather than see you weakened by schemes like limiting the cost-of-living adjustment for monthly benefits. (In addition to the national report, there are reports for each state.)

Yes, that dreaded “chained CPI” proposal is still a threat, which if allowed to take effect would mean that as the cost of food, housing and medicine goes up, Social Security recipients won’t be able to keep up. It looms as a bargaining chip in the negotiations that are likely to take place this fall to avert either a government shutdown at the end of September or a debt ceiling debacle shortly afterward.

As a response to concerns about the federal deficit, it is wrong on every level. As today’s reports make clear, Social Security has done nothing to contribute to the deficit. In fact, you were there to help mitigate the effects of one of the main causes of the current deficit: the Wall Street implosion of 2008 and the Great Recession that followed, providing a steady monthly check to millions of seniors and people with disabilities that was not affected by the plunging stock market.

In fact, throughout your history you have done more than your share to keep people out of poverty. And by keeping people out of poverty, you’ve help support the overall economy.

The least we could do on your birthday is to commit to dealing with the real causes of the federal deficit – particularly, the lack of economic growth and the need to move more rapidly toward full employment. And we could push for legislation, such as the bills put forward by Rep. Linda Sanchez, D-Calif., and Sens. Tom Harkin (Iowa), Mark Begich (Alaska) and Brian Schatz (Hawaii) that would increase benefits, covering the cost by ensuring that high-income people pay the same ate of Social Security taxes as the rest of us.

That’s why I’m signing your birthday card. When I get to be 78, I want you to be even stronger and good-looking than you are today.


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