Through the eyes of Washington: Legislators bring Social Security campaign to city

U.S. Rep. John Larson (D-1) and U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and explain their ‘Social Security 2100 Act’ at the Bristol Senior Center last Friday.

TAYLOR MURCHISON-GALLAGHER

STAFF WRITER

U.S. Rep. John Larson (D-1) and U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) hosted a forum at the Bristol Senior Center, 240 Stafford Ave., on Friday, Feb. 1, to discuss their proposed piece of legislation  the Social Security 2100 Act.

“We are very fortunate that Senator Blumenthal and Congressman Larson have chosen the Bristol Senior Center to come and have one of the most important conversations that we can have which is about your Social Security, and issues that are affecting our seniors here in Bristol,” said Mayor Ellen Zoppo-Sassu.

Blumenthal and Larson introduced the bill in Washington D.C., on Wednesday, Jan. 30, which Larson said would have been U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s 137th birthday.

“Our goal has got to be to expand Social Security, not just to continue the status quo,” said Larson. “We’ve resisted the privatization of Social Security, but beyond that, Social Security needed to be expanded. Why? Because it’s an insurance plan that has to be made actuarially sound.”

According to information provided by Larson’s office, the proposed bill “increases Social Security’s vital benefits while making the system financially strong” by providing “an across-the-board benefit increase for current and new beneficiaries,” “an improved cost-of-living adjustment that takes into account the true costs incurred by seniors,” “a stronger minimum benefit, so someone who works their whole life does not retire into poverty,” and “a tax cut for over 12 million Social Security recipients by eliminating the tax on their benefits.”

Larson explained that Social Security was last adjusted by the federal government in 1983, more than 30 years ago, and yet the cost of living has increased while Social Security benefits have remained the same.

“We need to defend Social Security. It’s not something that is a benefit, it’s not something that you’re entitled to when you get to be a certain age  it’s a promise. It is insurance  you’ve earned it, you’ve contributed to it,” said Blumenthal. “If we fail to keep that promise, we are failing as a society.”

Blumenthal said that one of the reasons he and Larson presented at the Senior Center was because they “need your help.” Blumenthal said “there shouldn’t be anything partisan about this issue,” as it ought to be a common ground and intergenerational issue of concern.

Both legislators encouraged those gathered to write letters to representation, be it in the state of Connecticut, or on the national level to representatives in other states.

Larson said the first public hearing on the bill was to be held on Wednesday, Feb. 6, and Blumenthal said that he was unsure when the bill will be available for voting, as it will depend on Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell.

As of the presentation on Friday, Feb. 1, Social Security 2100 had been endorsed by the Social Security Works group, the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare, the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO), the Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA), the Arc of the United States, the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE), the International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers, the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities Social Security Task Force, the Justice in Aging Organization, the Association of University Centers on Disabilities (AUCD), and the Senior Citizens League.

To comment on this story or to contact staff writer Taylor Murchison-Gallagher, email her at TMurchison@BristolObserver.com.