Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Strengthening Social Security -- Sherrod Brown's Great Start

Update. Major oops: This is Senator Tom Harkin of Iowa's bill. Sherrod Brown only stepped forward to endorse the bill. Still, a good step forward. Also, Atrios flags this Greg Sargent post on the wisdom of pushing a liberal entitlements agenda: People like entitlements!

Daily Kos flagged this new bill brought by Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown. It's a great start on reforming Social Security in a good way: expanding it.
The bill would:
Strengthen Benefits by Reforming the Social Security Benefit Formula: The bill would change the method by which the Social Security Administration (SSA) calculates Social Security benefits. This change will boost benefits for all Social Security beneficiaries by approximately $70 per month, but is targeted to help those in the low and middle of the income distribution, for whom Social Security has become an ever greater share of their retirement income.
Ensure that Cost of Living Adjustments Adequately Reflect the Living Expenses of Retirees: the bill would change the way the Social Security Administration calculates the Cost of Living Adjustments (COLA). Currently, the annual adjustment is tied to the Consumer Price Index (CPI) for all Urban Wage Earners (CPI-W) in order to account for inflation. The CPI-W is based on a basket of goods that does not adequately track the purchases of seniors. For example, unlike younger working age Americans, retirees spend significantly more on medical care, whose costs have been rising much more quickly in recent years. As a result, to ensure that benefits better reflect cost increases facing seniors, future COLAs will be based on the CPI for the Elderly (CPI-E). The CPI-E is an experimental index that the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) has been keeping since 1982. Making this change to Social Security is expected to result in higher COLAs, ensuring that seniors are able to better keep up with the rising costs of essential items, like prescription drugs.
Improve the Long Term Financial Condition of the Trust Fund: Social Security is not in crisis, but does face a long-term deficit. According to the most recent Social Security Trustees report, the Trust Fund will be able to pay full benefits through 2033, or another 20 years. To help extend the life of the trust fund, and decrease the 75 year actuarial deficit, the legislation would phase out the current taxable cap of $113,700 and instead ask the wealthiest Americans to contribute to the program the same share of their income as the middle class.
More like this, Congress. Citizens, back this stuff. Write your congresspeople.

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