It’s time to reshape the debate around Social Security. For too long Democrats have been playing defense, working to protect Social Security benefits from cuts when really we need to EXPAND Social Security benefits. Now a growing number of voices are calling for Social Security expansion — and they’re beginning to turn the conversation.
In June, the PCCC put together a coalition of over 30 national groups representing over 20 million Americans leading the movement to expand Social Security benefits including the PCCC, AFL-CIO, National Organization for Women, Social Security Works, Latinos for a Secure Retirement, MoveOn, Democracy For America, and CREDO Action.
In July, the PCCC launched the campaign on MSNBC’s Ed Show. On the show, Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Sen. Mark Begich (D-AK) discussed their bills in the Senate that would expand benefits by $452 for retirees at age 75 and $807 at age 85. By “scrapping the cap” on what the wealthy pay into Social Security, the Harkin-Begich plan will pay for these benefit increases and leave trillions left over to extend Social Security’s solvency beyond its current $2.7 trillion surplus. Alan Grayson (D-FL), Mike Honda (D-CA), and over 40 members of Congress have co-sponsored House versions of the Harkin-Begich plan.
Over 649,000 progressives have signed on to petitions calling on Congress to expand Social Security benefits.
In August, local PCCC members held events around the nation pressuring their representatives in Congress to support expanding Social Security benefits and generated media coverage in Kentucky, California, Iowa, New Jersey, Colorado, Hawaii, and Texas. The PCCC released polls showing expanding Social Security benefits is popular in red, purple, and blue states. Recent polls from states as diverse as Kentucky, Iowa, and California show that expanding Social Security benefits is popular by over 2 to 1. In Texas, Colorado, and Hawaii, it’s 3 to 1.
Last week, Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) announced his endorsement of Social Security expansion in an email to PCCC members. On a national call with PCCC members and the media Brown stated:
“If we didn’t have Social Security, Ohio’s poverty rate for Seniors would be 48%. Because of Social Security, Ohio’s poverty rate for Seniors is 8%. It’s one of our nation’s best anti-poverty programs and has been for seven decades. It’s not a handout, it’s an insurance mechanism.”
The Washington Post reported that the “push to expand Social Security gains steam,” and Brown’s announcement was the top story on Talking Points Memo. Sen. Brown appeared on MSNBC’s The Rachel Maddow Show discussing the momentum for Social Security expansion and how progressives are going on offense.
Momentum is growing! In 2014, the PCCC will ask candidates to campaign and win on this big idea and others — and in the process, spend millions educating the public about the need to expand Social Security benefits. Click here to help us elect progressives who support expanding Social Security benefits and other bold ideas in 2014!