Hirono Fights to Strengthen Social Security

July 23, 2017, 6:15 AM HST · Updated July 23, 7:19 AM
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Senator Mazie K. Hirono (D-Hawaiʻi) and Congressman Ted Deutch (D-Fla.) re-introduced the Protecting and Preserving Social Security Act, a bill aimed at strengthening Social Security and improving benefits.  The bill also seeks to restore “fairness” to Social Security contributions.

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“Social Security is the cornerstone for retirement and a safety net for millions of families around the country, including thousands in Hawaiʻi who rely on its benefits every day to survive,” said Senator Hirono. “However, for many seniors living on fixed incomes Social Security doesn’t go as far as it should to help make ends meet. I am proud to join Congressman Deutch in our fight to strengthen and expand Social Security to ensure that seniors and others who rely on this critical program receive the hard-earned benefits they deserve.”

“I’m proud to once again join with my friend Senator Hirono to re-introduce this bill,” Congressman Deutch said. “Social Security is a fundamental program that protects millions of American workers’ economic security. It protects retirees, people with disabilities, and families who have lost a breadwinner.”

He continued saying, “We are standing with the American people who want Social Security protected and strengthened, not weakened. For many of my constituents, Social Security is the only thing keeping them from having to choose between medicine and a meal. Our bill bolsters Social Security to continue its success as the most efficient, effective, and popular promise we make to our fellow Americans.”

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Currently, most Americans contribute 6.2% of every paycheck they earn to Social Security, but higher-income earners pay much less. By ensuring that those earners pay into Social Security at the same rate as most Americans, this legislation seeks to extend the life of the program at a time when more than three-fifths of retirees rely on Social Security for a majority of their income.

Supporters say the legislation also restores accuracy to a “broken” cost-of-living adjustment formula and ensures that the benefits keep pace, instead of shrink, in the face of inflation.

The Senate legislation is cosponsored by Senator Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.).

Social Security advocates praised the Protecting and Preserving Social Security Act and how it would benefit seniors, saying:

“Senator Mazie Hirono (D-HI) and Representative Ted Deutch (D-FL) deserve every single American’s appreciation for sponsoring the Protecting and Preserving Social Security Act,” said Nancy Altman, president of Social Security Works and Chair of the Strengthen Social Security Coalition. “By proposing a more accurate cost of living adjustment, this important legislation ensures that Social Security’s vital but modest benefits do not erode over time. Moreover, the legislation restores Social Security to long-range actuarial balance by requiring that higher-paid workers contribute the same percentage of their total earnings that average- and minimum-wage workers do. This legislation is both common sense and extremely wise.”

“The reason this legislation is important is that the economic benefits are far-reaching,” Max Richtman, President and CEO, National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare said. “Shifting to a CPI-E will provide a financial boost to beneficiaries who will likely increase their consumption of goods and services which helps fuel our nation’s economic engine. This is a positive step that people of all political stripes should appreciate. In addition, another 25 years are added to the long-term financial outlook for the program – a significant reassurance to current and future generations of workers, retirees, the disabled and their families who depend on Social Security. This is how we make our nation stronger. We applaud Representative Deutch and Senator Hirono for their tireless pursuit of progress on behalf of all Americans.”

“The CPI-E is a much more accurate formula for determining COLAs. It reflects what retirees actually spend their money on, like housing and health care,” said Richard Fiesta, Executive Director of the Alliance for Retired Americans. “Sen. Hirono and Rep. Deutch’s bill would help widows, widowers, children, and people with disabilities make ends meet.”

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