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House Introduces Social Security 2100 Bill to Expand Payroll Tax

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What You Need to Know

  • The new COLA formula, based on CPI-E, will help seniors who spend a greater portion of their income on health care.
  • It's been 50 years since Congress has enhanced Social Security benefits, Larson said.
  • The bill also includes a benefit bump equivalent to about 2% of the average benefit.

House Ways and Means Social Security Subcommittee Chairman John Larson, D-Ct., introduced Tuesday his new legislation, Social Security 2100: A Sacred Trust.

The bill adopts the Consumer Price Index for the Elderly as the basis of the annual cost-of-living adjustment (COLA), applies the payroll tax to wages above $400,000, combines the Old-Age and Survivors and Disability Insurance trust funds, includes a 2% benefits bump, and extends the depletion date (when a 20% cut to benefits would occur) to 2038.

“Here’s the deal: The majority of Americans, including 75% of independents, 78% of Democrats and 79% of Republicans feel leaders in Washington do not understand how hard it is for Americans to save for retirement,” Larson said during a press conference to introduce the bill.

Larson said House Ways and Means is “looking forward” to holding a hearing on the bill in November followed by a markup.

“People’s skepticism is validated by Congressional inaction,” he continued. “It’s been 50 years, let me repeat that, 50 years since Congress has enhanced Social Security benefits and 38 years since it has taken any comprehensive action.

“This is compounded by the fact that 10,000 Baby Boomers a day become eligible for Social Security. And millennials will need Social Security more than any generation before,” he stated adding that there are 65 million Social Security recipients.

Larson introduced the legislation along with Majority Whip James Clyburn, D-S.C.; House Ways and Means Chairman Richard Neal, D-Mass.; Sen. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md.; and other Ways and Means Democrats.

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According to the bill’s fact sheet, adopting a CPI-E formula “will help seniors who spend a greater portion of their income on health care and other necessities. Improved inflation protection will especially help older retirees and widows who are more likely to rely on Social Security benefits as they age.”

The bill also includes a benefit bump for current and new beneficiaries equivalent to about 2% of the average benefit, the fact sheet explains.

Larson’s bill would require millionaires and billionaires to “pay the same rate as everyone else,” the fact sheet states. “Presently, payroll taxes are not collected on wages over $142,800.” The bill would apply the payroll tax to wages above $400,000 and “would only affect the top 0.4% of wage earners.”

The Sacred Trust Act also would bring new revenue into Social Security amid projections that the trust fund will run dry in 2034 if Congress doesn’t take action, the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare said in a statement.

“To those who claim that no one in Washington has the courage to address Social Security’s challenges, or that the only solution is to cut benefits for future generations, Congressman Larson’s bill is a stunning refutation,” said Max Richtman, president and CEO of National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare in the statement.

Larson, Richtman continued, “understands that Social Security beneficiaries need improved benefits to meet ever-growing living expenses, and that many seniors will fall into poverty without a boost in their monthly checks. He knows that the fairest way to strengthen Social Security’s finances is for the wealthy to begin paying their fair share of payroll contributions.”

The Sacred Trust Act is the successor to Congressman Larson’s original Social Security 2100 Act, which he first introduced in 2014.

“The bill not only provides an across-the-board boost in benefits to all Social Security recipients for the first time since 1972, it includes targeted increases for the most vulnerable — including widows and widowers, low-wage workers, and the ‘oldest of the old,’” Richtman said.