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.”