Democrats Rethink Social Security Strategy

For years, liberal Democrats have fought against proposals to cut Social Security benefits. Now, they’re pushing the party not just to defend benefits but to increase them, and that could present a problem for Hillary Clinton. The call for higher benefits is a marked difference from recent years in which the White House and Republicans were negotiating deficit-cutting deals, leaving liberals to argue merely for staving off benefit cutbacks. Separately, many experts in both parties have long argued that extending the solvency of the program would require a combination of benefit cuts and tax increases. The liberals’ argument is that Social Security benefits are meager and that people in retirement need more, not less, money. Some also contend that concerns about the program’s solvency are exaggerated. And inside the Democratic Party, that argument is gaining traction. Legislation increasing benefits, and boosting payroll taxes to cover the cost, now has 58 co-sponsors in the House. Former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, who is considering a Democratic presidential bid, told Iowa voters that the nation must expand benefits to help more people realize the American dream. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) won 42 Democratic votes — with just two Democrats voting no — for a nonbinding resolution calling for a “sustainable expansion of benefits.” But there could be a conflict between this sentiment and the heavy favorite for the party’s 2016 presidential nomination. When Mrs. Clinton last weighed in on Social Security, she supported a bipartisan commission to tackle the program’s long-term financial imbalance. The widespread view was that such a commission would lead to a compromise in which Democrats support benefit cuts in return for Republican support for a tax increase, all to extend the life of the program.

Source/more: Wall St. Journal

David Wingate is an elder law attorney and practices in Frederick and Montgomery Counties, Maryland. The elder law firm prepares wills, trusts, powers of attorneys, asset protection, and Medicaid.

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