Some congressional Democrats are counting on a grass-roots movement to push their legislation calling for an increase in Social Security payments instead of a benefits cuts.
The effort, led by Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), comes as the budget conference committee is trying to hammer out a deal with hot-button issues like the debt ceiling, sequestration and entitlement reform on the table.
Sponsor Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) told MSNBC that the benefits hike will make Social Security work “the way it should work.”
“The debate frankly has been all about the discussion of how do we reform entitlements and how do we save Social Security. But when I hear a conservative politician in this town, say reform entitlements, restructure, they are not sustainable or when they say we need to fix Social Security or save Social Security. They are always talking about making cuts on Social Security. And the debate should not be about how much we’re going to cut Social Security, the debate should be about retirement security,” Brown said.
Rep. Jim McDermott (D-Wash.) said Congress “refuses to face the fact that the pension system in this country is being eroded very rapidly.”
“We ought to be thinking about how we can strengthen the program and making it stronger, not talking about chained CPI and reducing it,” he added.
Brown said “somebody making $50,000 or $100,000 a year pays a higher percentage of her income in the Social Security than somebody making $500,000 or a billion dollars a year.”
“And we’re simply saying that everybody should pay the same percentage of their income in Social Security. That will strengthen Social Security, not strengthen it by cutting it the way that Ted Cruz just said … But will strengthen it because it will have more revenue,” he continued.
Brown argued that any increase will go right back into the local economy, giving seniors the opportunity to live “older years with a little higher standard of living.”
“I think it’s going to take a movement from the people and the people have got to start sending in messages to their congressmen and saying we want you to cut Social Security, but increase it. And I think scrap the cap is a good slogan for them to use. I think you’re going to find that more and more people are going to be pressing their congressmen about this. That’s the only way it will happen,” McDermott said. “In the state of Washington, we just raised in a little town, the minimum wage to $15. It was done by the people.”