That's the basic headline: Democrats hide when asked about ending high-income loophole to ensure Social Security's future.
The group Remapping Debate has an article up talking about eliminating the income cap on the payroll tax for Social Security. We all know that that is the best way to ensure the continued solvency of the program. And the group went to find out where that idea stood:
Nevertheless, these routes to ensuring the promises made to workers that they could rely Social Security benefits are kept is little discussed on Capitol Hill. And even though the national Democratic Party has presented itself as the defender of Social Security, Remapping Debate discovered a profound unwillingness among most Democratic senators to identify their position on the issue.Some of the names you'll expect, some will surprise you.
Currently there are three legislative proposals in the Senate regarding the income cap:
Senator Mark Begich (D-Alaska) proposed a bill in February (re-introduced from December 2012) that would phase out the payroll tax cap, as did Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) in March. Sen. Begich’s bill is co-sponsored by Senator Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), while Sen. Harkin’s bill has no co-sponsors.
Also last month, Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) proposed a bill to apply the payroll tax to income above $250,000.The legislation was patterned after a proposal President Obama made during his 2008 presidential campaign to lift the cap for income above $250,000 (and is consistent with the President’s 2008 pledge not to raise taxes on households with income less than $250,000).
This bill is co-sponsored by Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), Al Franken (D-Minn.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), Harry Reid (D-Nev.), Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.).
So, from March 19 to 29, Remapping Debate canvassed the remaining Senators that had not signed on as cosponsors of any of this legislation.
Senator Benjamin Cardin (D-Md.) told Remapping Debate that “I am in favor of using the changing of the cap to help deal with the long-term solvency of Social Security; I think it’s a fair way to do it.”
The office of Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) also indicated in an email that the Senator has supported the idea that those with income above $250,000 pay into the system through the payroll tax.
The office of Senator Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) provided a statement that “Sen. Brown is strongly opposed to handing Social Security over to Wall Street or raising the retirement age or cutting benefit levels for seniors who have contributed to Social Security throughout their working years." “Instead,” the statement continued, “he believes that we can improve the solvency of Social Security by asking the wealthiest Americans to contribute to the program the same share of their income as the middle class.”
Mark Warner's (D-VA) office sent a video in which he confirms he is for raising the cap and a phased in increase in the retirement age.
An aide to Senator Tim Kaine (D-Va.) wrote that Kaine is “open” to raising the cap.
Senator Frank Lautenberg’s (D-N.J.) office stated by email that Lautenberg is “considering” the “removal of the payroll tax exclusion for the highest-income earners.”
Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) in an email restated her opposition to raising the retirement age or reducing cost of living adjustments to benefits, but did not answer the question on the cap. However, she was a cosponsor of Senator Sanders' bill to do just that in 2011. BUT, she did not sign as a cosponsor in 2013. She was asked if she changed her mind. They received no answer.
Four Senators expressly declined to comment through their press offices to answer their questions on the payroll cap:
Chris Coons (D-DE)
Mark Udall (D-CO)
Mary Landrieu (D-LA)
Elizabeth Warren (D-MA)
Other Senators indicated through their offices they were "too busy", some seemed initially responsive but then gave a "thanks anyway", and still others gave no response.
This is the problem. No one wants to talk about the real solutions. Sure, in the House you have the Progressive Caucus, but they're dismissed because they will eventually go along with Leader Pelosi.
And look at Elizabeth Warren. She should be in the lead on this issue. But she's behind a wall of silence, not commenting on this.
We got a statement today against Chained CPI, but there has been nothing about lifting the income cap.
And until these real solutions actually start getting talked about seriously in the media, this is all we're going to get.