By Caroline Dobuzinskis
Illinois House Representative and member of President Barack Obama’s Fiscal Commission Jan Schakowsky has long been an advocate of Social Security and its importance to Americans. On a press call on Monday hosted by the Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP), she emphasized the increasing importance of the program to retirees who are facing a downward economy.
“With the dissolution of private pension plans, Social Security has been even more important for retirement benefit plans,” Rep. Schakowsky told reporters on the call. “Right now we don’t want to cut the benefits or lower the [retirement] age.”
In March, Rep. Schakowsky came to the defense of Social Security after Virginia Rep. Eric Cantor commented on NPR that “these programs [for seniors] cannot exist if we want America to be what we want America to be.”
On Monday’s call, Rep. Schawkowsky also focused on her proposed Fairness in Taxation Act that would enact new tax brackets for very high income earners—starting at salaries of $1 million—raising the caps on their taxes. She pointed out that Social Security should not be a part of any deficit-reduction strategy.
“Social Security really doesn’t have any place in a deficit-reduction discussion because it has nothing to do with the deficit,” said Rep. Schakowsky.
As often repeated on this blog, Social Security can afford to provide benefits for many years to come. The ability of Social Security to provide economic security to Americans who are retired, disabled, and others (such as widows of workers) has made it one of the country’s most successful and popular programs. While it is expected to face a shortfall after 2036, the program will still be able to provide benefits at a rate of 75 to 78 percent of current benefits at that point.
Scrapping the cap on the amount of wages subject to payroll tax as proposed in Rep. Schakowsky’s tax act is one solution to increasing revenues devoted to Social Security and ensuring its continued ability to pay full benefits. On the call, she said some secretaries now pay higher rates of taxes than the CEOs that work in their offices.
“If we were to scrap the cap that would make a huge difference to Social Security income,” she said. “We are in a downwardly moving trend in this country and Social Security will only become more important.”
Caroline Dobuzinskis is the Communications Manager at the Institute for Women’s Policy Research.