U.S. Rep. John Larson, D-1st District, speaking Wednesday about the American Health Care Act. C-Span / File Photo
U.S. Rep. John Larson, D-1st District C-Span / File Photo

Washington – Rep. John Larson on Wednesday reintroduced a bill that aims to boost both Social Security benefits and the program’s solvency.

“I am committed to taking common-sense steps to expand benefits and to make the system solvent for the next 75 years and beyond,” said Larson, D-1st District.

A member of the House Ways and Means Committee, Larson first introduced his proposal in in 2014. It would increase benefits for current and new Social Security beneficiaries in several ways.

The Social Security 2100 Act would change the way cost-of-living adjustments are made. Instead of being tied to the Consumer Price Index, they would be tied to an experimental Consumer Price Index for the Elderly which focuses exclusively on the living expenses of retirees.

Larson’s bill also would give older Americans a break on their taxes by increasing the income threshold above which Social Security benefits are taxed. That threshold would be raised from $25,000 to $50,000 for single filers and from $32,000 to $100,000 for joint filers.

Low-income workers would be guaranteed a Social Security monthly payment at least 25 percent over the poverty level.

Reps. Joe Courtney, D-2nd District, and Rosa DeLauro Elizabeth Esty, D-5th District, are among the more than 150 co-sponsors of the bill – all Democrats.

“In the state of Connecticut alone, there are more than 600,000 retired workers, disabled people, and families who depend on Social Security to pay their bills, including 135,000 in our congressional district” Esty said. “The Social Security 2100 Act is the plan we need to keep the program going strong – not only for today’s beneficiaries, but for our kids and grandkids

To pay for the expanded benefits, Larson’s plan would increase Social Security taxes by .01 percent a year for each of the next 24 years and impose them on those who earn $400,000 or more a year.  Under current law, individuals stop paying Social Security taxes when their income reaches $127,000 in a year. Under Larson’s plan, that cutoff would remain until an individual reaches the $400,000 mark, when contributions would resume.

Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., said he’d sponsor a companion bill in the Senate in the nest few weeks.

Democratic proposals to reform Social Security were dead on arrival in the last Congress, which like the current one was controlled by Republicans. But the Social Security 2100 Act “has some ideas that might set the stage for a bipartisan compromise at some point in the future,” said Motley Fool, a. financial-services company that provides investment advice.

On Wednesday, the Social Security Administration’s chief actuary, Stephen Goss, sent Larson a letter that said his plan would wipe out an expected shortfall in the Social Security Trust Fund of $11.4 trillion in 75 years, replacing it with a positive balance of $2.2 trillion.

The latest projections from Social Security’s Board of Trustees show that the program’s trust funds are set to run out in 2034, and the program would either have to cut benefits or operate at a deficit after that.

Ana has written about politics and policy in Washington, D.C.. for Gannett, Thompson Reuters and UPI. She was a special correspondent for the Miami Herald, and a regular contributor to The New York TImes, Advertising Age and several other publications. She has also worked in broadcast journalism, for CNN and several local NPR stations. She is a graduate of the University of Maryland School of Journalism.

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