Five years ago, when the mainstream media said “everybody knows Social Security benefits will be cut soon,” we fought back. When they insisted that expanding Social Security was a fringe issue that nobody should take seriously, we fought back. The fight continues, but I want you to see how far we have come.
Over the last couple of days, 115 of the 188 Democratic members of the House and 42 Democratic Senators have voted to support expanding Social Security benefits. Just before recessing this morning, the entire Senate was put on record on how they plan to handle the future of Social Security. And these votes hold major implications for 2016 and beyond.
During a marathon budget “vote-a-rama,” two important Social Security amendments were offered. Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) offered an amendment protecting all Americans against cuts to Social Security benefits. And around 2:30 in the morning, Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) offered an amendment advocating for the expansion of Social Security.
Every Democratic Senator who was present but two voted to expand Social Security. Every Democrat but one voted against all cuts.
In sharp contrast, no Republican voted to expand Social Security.
The Democratic Party has apparently re-discovered what they stand for: Shared economic prosperity; a secure retirement future; and a strong social safety net to keep millions of veterans, children, and disabled workers from falling into poverty.
Together we have moved nearly the entire Democratic caucus from cuts to expansion. This is a monumental moment in our fight to protect and expand Social Security’s modest benefits.
Right now, the average annual Social Security benefit is just $14,000. These earned benefits are crucial to over 59 million Americans, two-thirds of whom rely on Social Security for the majority of their retirement income. It lifts more than twenty million Americans — including more than a million children — out of poverty each year. And it lessens the depth of poverty for millions more. It provides a floor of economic protection under our nation’s workers and their families.
But this hasn’t stopped the Republican Party from launching an all-out attack on our earned Social Security benefits. Since day one of the new Congress, Republicans have been manufacturing phony crises and promoting policies that benefit their friends on Wall Street instead of protecting the retirement security of millions of hardworking Americans. They want us to believe that Social Security is going broke and won’t be there for future generations.
The truth is that Social Security has a $2.8 trillion surplus, can pay out every benefit owed to every eligible American for the next 18 years and approximately 80% of benefits owed after that. And all we need to do is ask the very wealthy to start paying their fair share and we can not only extend the lifespan of the Social Security trust fund, we can expand benefits for millions of Americans.
These votes have major implications for 2016 and beyond providing the American people with a clear alternative to the Republican Party’s dangerous policies of cuts and privatization.
If Social Security expansion becomes the number one issue in the upcoming presidential race, it is going to make for a very interesting election.
Social Security Works