Rep. John Larson and The Social Security 2100 Act: It may be back
Social Security reform has been of interest to Rep. John Larson (D-CT) for many years. Larson is expected to be named chair of the Social Security subcommittee on the powerful House Ways and Means Committee. It is anticipated his newest version of The Social Security 2100 Act will be introduced soon and share many of the same attributes as prior versions, including:
- immediate increase in Social Security benefits equal to about 2% of the average benefit amount for current and new Social Security participants.
- adoption of a new measure of inflation to determine annual cost-of-living adjustments that incorporates goods and services more in line with what older Americans actually purchase.
- minimum benefit set at 25% above the federal poverty line.
- higher income thresholds for tax-free benefits, with taxable income levels rising from $25k to $50k for single filers and from $32k to $100k for joint filers.
Larson’s past bills have sought to ensure that any benefit increases under its provisions would not hurt eligibility for other federal programs, including Supplemental Security Income, Medicaid, and Children’s Health Insurance Program.
The problem, as many experts see it, is every item on the list above “costs” the Social Security Trust Fund money, and the fund is due to reach insolvency in 2034 according to The Social Security Trustees. The Social Security 2100 Act does provide for new revenue as per below:
- new tax Social Security and self-employment wages above $400,000; in 2019, wages are not taxed in excess of $132,900.
- phase-in of higher payroll taxes on workers from current 6.2% to 7.4% by 2042.
Read Dan Caplinger’s full piece here.
Note, Dan Weber, the Founder/president of The Association of Mature American Citizens (AMAC) has met with Rep. Larson in his office in 2018 to discuss preserving and modernizing Social Security. AMAC takes a different approach that focuses on the long-term solvency problem facing the program. AMAC’s plan does not increase taxes on workers but does make modest changes in cost of living adjustments and the retirement age. AMAC advocates for a bipartisan compromise, “The Social Security Guarantee Act,” taking selected language from former Rep. Johnson (R-TX) and Rep. Larson’s own bill (D-CT) and merging them with the Association’s own well researched ideas. Another of the AMAC bill’s several components is Social Security PLUS, a new yet voluntary early retirement plan that would allow all earners to have more income available at retirement. This component is intended to appeal especially to younger workers, and this provision was received favorably by Rep. Larson and his staff in 2018. AMAC is resolute in its mission that Social Security be preserved and modernized and has gotten the attention of lawmakers in DC, meeting with a great many congressional offices and their legislative staffs over the past decade. Read AMAC’s plan here.