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August 13, 2013 > Rally supports increased social security benefits

Rally supports increased social security benefits

By William Marshak

During a rally organized by a national progressive coalition, Rep. Mike Honda (D-CA) was joined by local dignitaries and Social Security recipients next to the Fremont Social Security office on August 7, 2013. He publicly called for the expansion of social security benefits, funded primarily by removing the income cap on payments into the fund. Honda argued that it is not fair for some to avoid payments on income above $113,700. The cry of "scrap the cap" is designed, he said, to motivate others to ask "why" the cap exists, calling it a "regressive" system.

In his call for strengthening, modernizing and expanding social security benefits and payments, the congressman spoke of "name games" and the use of fear and insecurity as weapons by opponents. He asked for a recommitment to the values of FDR's social security promise and realization that social security benefits are not an entitlement, rather a program funded by worker payments. Fremont Mayor Bill Harrison noted that social security is "not 'right versus left', it is a 'right versus wrong' issue." Other speakers adding their support included retired plumber and union member Bill Alexander, Treasurer of the California Alliance for Retired Americans Tom Rankin, Board Member of the Washington Township Health Care District Pat Danielson and Newark Mayor Alan Nagy.

Representative Honda spoke of retirement as a three-legged stool supported by retirement plans, savings and social security. For many, especially after the recent economic downturn, only one of those legs remains... social security.

In a local poll of California's 17th Congressional District released by Representative Honda's office, support of his 'scrap the cap' proposal found a heavy majority in favor.

Public Policy Polling (PPP), showed likely voters in CA-17 would support a proposal to increase Social Security benefits by 2-1, 59% to 23%. It also showed that the majority want wealthy Americans pay the same rate on their income as ordinary Americans by 2-1, 54% to 19%.

Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Mark Begich (D-AK) have authored a proposal to expand Social Security benefits in the U.S. Senate and. Rep. Honda co-signed legislation introduced by Rep. Linda Sanchez (D-CA) and Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL) in the U.S. House of Representatives. The Congressman is a cosponsor of H.R. 649, the Protecting and Preserving Social Security Act, which also lifts the cap and adopts an enhanced cost-of-living adjustment.

Ro Khanna, former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Commerce and candidate for California's 17th congressional district, also addressed the issue from his campaign office: "My parents worked hard, paid into Social Security and, as retirees, rely on those benefits. Congress should stop playing politics with Social Security and focus on extending its solvency, so future generations can retire with dignity and security. The benefits promised to current recipients must remain sacrosanct. To ensure that Social Security remains viable for the long-term, Congress should increase the payroll tax cap from its current level of $113,700 - asking the wealthiest among us to pay their fair share. This would add many years to the solvency of the Trust Fund without cutting benefits or increasing the retirement age, which I strongly oppose."

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