Social Security is a national treasure. Without its guaranteed, inflation-adjusted benefits, about half of seniors would be living in poverty. The average Social Security retirement benefit is modest – about $17,536 a year ($2,000 less for women) but 6 in 10 seniors rely on those benefits for a majority of their income and 1 in 3 for 90 percent of more. That is why I so strongly oppose proposals to cut benefits, change the formula to reduce annual cost-of-living adjustments, or raise the age of eligibility. Social Security doesn't contribute to today's or tomorrow's deficits – by law it cannot borrow – so benefits should not be cut to reduce them. Nor do we need to cut benefits to provide for the long-term (75 year) solvency of the Trust Fund, which has a $2.89 trillion surplus. Instead, I believe that we should scrap or significantly raise the wage cap. Today, 94% of Americans pay the FICA tax on 100% of their income, up to $132,000 in annual wages. Lifting the wage cap would affect only the top 6% of all wage earners but it would solve Social Security's long-term solvency gap and, with a few other modest changes, provide enough revenues to make benefit improvements.
Those improvements would allow us to recognize the work of those who take time out of the workforce to care for family members, provide benefits to students up to age 22, and provide a higher COLA that accounts for the higher costs facing seniors today.
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I went to the House floor to speak about the need to pass H.R. 3, the Elijah E. Cummings Lower Drug Costs Now Act.
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