Reps. John Larson and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez are working together to sell Larson’s overhaul of the nation’s social security program.
Reps. John Larson and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez are working together to sell Larson’s overhaul of the nation’s social security program.

Washington – Rep. John Larson, a senior member of the powerful Ways and Means Committee, has tapped the help of high-profile New York Democratic freshman, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, to sell his ambitious overhaul of the Social Security program.

Ocasio-Cortez appears in a new video with Larson promoting Social Security 2100 Act, a bill Larson has introduced three times since 2015.

In that video, Ocasio-Cortez, one of 208 Democratic sponsors of the bill, says her family was helped by the Social Security program after her father died when she was a teenager.

“And that was really my family’s first encounter with Social Security,” said Ocasio-Cortez. “It was the first time I discovered that Social Security not only helps children, but it helps children and widows of people who have passed away.”

The Social Security 2100 Act would boost Social Security benefits for all recipients, providing the biggest increase  to those who are now receiving the smallest benefits, and would establish a more generous cost-of-living adjustment.

Larson’s bill would also raise the cap on tax-free Social Security benefits, to $50,000 for individuals and $100,000 for married couples.

But to pay for the more generous benefits, the Social Security 2100 Act contains tax increases.

Currently, Americans pay Social Security taxes only on the first $132,900 they earn. Larson’s bill would leave income between $132,900 and $400,000 untaxed.  But wages that exceed $400,000 would, for the first time, be subject to Social Security taxes.

Larson’s plan would also slowly increase – over a 24-year period — the Social Security tax paid jointly by workers and their employers, from the current 6.2% to 7.4% of a person’s wages.

That tax increase has been slammed by Republican and is the main reason the GOP opposes Larson’s plan.

The video with Ocasio-Cortez, a lightning rod for derision from Trump and congressional Republicans, isn’t likely to change that dynamic, but may increase Democratic support for the Social Security overhaul. The plan had a hearing in the House Ways and Means Committee in March but has not been voted out of that Democratic-majority committee yet.

The bill would also likely not pass the GOP-controlled Senate.

But Ocasio-Cortez’s endorsement may capture the attention of Democrats running for the White House.

Larson’s bill  received a boost last month from the chief actuary of the Social Security Administration, who determined Larson’s plan would keep Social Security solvent for at least 75 years.

If no change is made to that program, it is projected to suffer shortfalls in funding in 2034, triggering cuts in monthly payments to beneficiaries.

Pointing to Ocasio-Cortez in the joint video, Larson says “this generation is leading the fight to put Social Security on the floor and pass it on behalf of all Americans.”

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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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8 Comments

  1. First, the program as it exists should be made solvent before Democrats try to spend more money we don’t have to buy more votes. A lot of us have been paying into it for a long time and we don’t need an expanded plan- we need a solvent plan. Second, the credibility of Larson’s plan just took a major hit with the support of AOC.

    1. Okay, you’re criticizing the proposal but offer no plan on how to make it solvent. Very typical. Who supports the bill should not discount it’s merits, you’re playing identity politics, a neoliberal tactic. Is that where you want to be? Larson’s plan makes perfect sense. Where do you stand on our endless corporate military ventures all of which have been thrown on the books as debt? How about the wall that “Mexico was going to pay for”? All typical hypocrisy.

      1. My opinion is that the priority should be first to make the program solvent. Larson’s plan also piles on more benefits. That said, at least he is getting the conversation started. I’ll grant him that.

        Most reasonable people know that a combination of increasing FRA, increasing payroll deductions, and increasing the income thresholds will get the job done, and the sooner we do them, the better for all.

        Since you asked, I don’t like endless wars either. However a strong military and protecting our sovereignty is in in our constitution. I didn’t catch the endless entitlement spending clause in it. And, speaking of endless debt, isn’t it grand that our Government raided the Social Security Trust fund and replaced those funds with Bonds? Spending and debt of all kinds will eventually have consequences.

      2. You want to keep increasing the FRA while life expectancy is going down according to the latest CDC data? What a great scam to pull on working people. I guess the American people only work to support endless wars and retirement is only for CEO’s that are banished with nine figure severance packages after they get caught raiding the company treasury. So veterans are living in the streets and we keep invading countries for their resources (see Trump on Syria), the spoils of which ALL go to corporate contractors with MY money. We are now spending 50% MORE on our military than we did at the peak of the Iraq invasion and you don’t think that there is a welfare system of entitlement for military contractors? Never enough money for the people but start a war, bail out Wall Street and we’ll always be willing to throw the bill on the back of the people who get absolutely nothing in return .

      3. Fair point on FRA. That leaves two other levers to pull, at least.

        Seems like your head is going to explode with military spending. Its more than anyone wants and I’m sure there’s lots of waste and abuse. As a percentage of GDP, it appears stable from the charts I’m looking at. I’ll put you down as someone who mildly opposes defense spending.

  2. I assume the issue is the ratio of those paying in to the number of those receiving benefits is becoming increasingly “upside down” due to demographics. Choices are 1) more workers paying in (not likely unless we change immigration policy or the birth rate changes), 2) fewer receiving benefits (not realistic unless we means test social security, not likely), 3) higher tax rate, 4) lower benefits, 5) taxing those (high incomes) that have previously been exempt, 6) insolvency 7) some combination of these.

  3. How embarrassing to link up with a freshmen Congressman having no expertise here. What prevents the Congressmen from accessing one of the dozens of knowledgable analysts familiar with Social Security complexities.

  4. Unfortunately, Larson’s message with be clouded by the lightning rod polarization that people have for AOC. She will not help his cause, only in the polls they want to believe. Then again, maybe she’s lining up a position so when she gets voted out next year…

    While not a bad idea, at the root of issues is a big government program that is out of control. A person I know qualified for SSI some 10 years ago and hasn’t had to demonstrate any continuing disability. In fact, she’s healed and now considers SSI a life long pension and pass on having to ever work again. She consistently goes on vacations and lives a nice life on the taxpayer. No one at SS is minding the abuse.

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