OPINION: Time to expand Social Security. Your help needed


Social Security Works

For 87 years, in the face of attacks from Wall Street and its minions in Washington, our Social Security system has delivered benefits in full and on time, through wars, recessions, and pandemics.

Congresses and Presidents of both parties have expanded Social Security over that time, to include disability insurance, automatic cost-of-living adjustments, and more. The time has come to expand Social Security again.

Enacting legislation that expands Social Security builds on the strong foundation laid down by President Franklin D. Roosevelt and his colleagues 87 years ago, on Aug. 14, 1935. On that August day, when President Roosevelt signed Social Security into law, he described the new law as “a cornerstone in a structure which is being built but is by no means complete.”

Roosevelt’s intention was always to gradually expand the “precious” institution over time. Just four years after its passage, Congress expanded Social Security to include survivor and family benefits. Congress continued to expand Social Security for more than three decades.

But then, a billionaire-funded campaign seeking to discredit Social Security—and indeed, government itself—stopped Congress from increasing benefits for the past half-century.

Social Security Works was founded just before the 75th anniversary of Social Security. Over the past dozen years, we have changed the conversation – from “Everyone knows we need to cut Social Security” to “How much can we expand Social Security?”

Democrats as ideologically diverse as Sen. Bernie Sanders and Rep. John Larson have proposed legislation to expand Social Security and address its funding shortfall. Even Joe Manchin voted to support expanding Social Security benefits! This is an idea whose time has come. And now that the Inflation Reduction Act has passed, Social Security should be next.

This year, President Joe Biden and Congress have the opportunity to follow President Roosevelt’s directive and take a large step forward.

Expanding Social Security is both wise policy and smart politics. It is a solution to the nation’s looming retirement income crisis, when too many workers fear that they must work until they die. It is a solution to immoral, destabilizing income and wealth inequality. It is a solution to the squeeze on working families, caught between the needs of the old and the young.

The COVID pandemic, which is hitting seniors hardest, has made the importance of Social Security even clearer. In the past few years, many older workers have lost their jobs or have had to quit to stay safe. The pandemic has underscored the value of Social Security’s survivor, disability, and old age benefits.

After 50 years, many Social Security expansions are needed. There should be an across-the-board benefit increase so that every current and future beneficiary gets a raise. Social Security’s benefits are inadequately low by virtually any standard.

America is the wealthiest country in the history of the world. How we spend our money is a question of values: Do we use our commonwealth to give tax breaks to the rich? Or do we use it to benefit all of us by expanding Social Security?

A robust expansion of Social Security benefits, funded by having millionaires and billionaires pay their fair share, is the best birthday present we could give the program – and ourselves.

Americans across the political spectrum support protecting and expanding Social Security. In so doing, we will be rewarding ourselves, our children, and their children.

(You can help in the effort to expand Social Security by making a birthday donation of $8.70 now at https://secure.actblue.com/donate/happybirthdaysocialsecurity_87)


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