By Robby Stern, President of the Puget Sound Alliance for Retired Americans
At its final 2011 coalition meeting, the Social Security Works Washington Coalition adopted priorities for protecting and strengthening Social Security in 2012.
Over the past year, the Coalition successfully fought efforts to weaken Social Security through the application of the chained CPI formula that would reduce the annual cost of living increases and the proposal to raise the age of eligibility. We have been unsuccessful in our efforts to stop the cutting of the payroll deduction that is likely to be extended into 2012.
Also in 2011, the Coalition embarked on an educational campaign and particularly made efforts to reach out to young people with the goal of fighting the propaganda that Social Security will not be there for them when they are ready to retire. Besides releasing the video “Just Scrap the Cap” which has been viewed by more than 63,000 people, we held well-attended educational events at Everett Community College and University of Washington.
At the event at Everett Community College, Rep. Rick Larsen committed to supporting the elimination of the cap when it comes before the House for a vote. We now have that commitment from Rep. McDermott and Rep. Larsen but we can and must do better.
This year, our Congressional allies in the House and the Senate introduced legislation to eliminate the cap on contributions. The 2012 elections will be very important in determining whether this goal can be achieved in the near term.
In 2012, the Social Security Works Coalition – including PSARA – will work to make elimination of the cap a major election issue. We will tie scrapping the cap to the interests of the 99% rather than the 1%, pointing out that the elimination of the cap should result in much needed improvements in Social Security. These improvements include raising the benefits received by low income earners, increasing survivor benefits, restoring funding for child survivors up to age 22 to assist them in paying for higher education and expanding survivor benefits to include domestic partners.
Our local coalition is urging the national campaign, led by the Strengthen Social Security Coalition, to adopt a similar program around the country.
Social Security Works WA will also expand our educational outreach with plans presently in the works for an educational event at Highline Community College in early 2012.
We anticipate further attacks on Social Security and will be responding as necessary.
Be on the look out for “Scrap the Cap” buttons as we work to popularize this effort. Wear them proudly and explain to people when they ask, what we are doing and why!