U.S. Rep. John Larson joined the Connecticut Alliance for Retired Americans and the Connecticut AFL-CIO Tuesday morning promising a fight for the preservation of Social Security against the recommendations of a national fiscal commission.
“Where they depart from principle and try to dismantle bedrock programs is when you will see a fight,” Larson said.
Larson, the Democratic congressman of the 1st District, addressed the proposals of the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform to make cuts to Social Security. The commission has discussed cutting benefits in order to reduce the federal deficit, raising the retirement age and privatizing social security. It will issue its final recommendations on Dec. 1.
Larson said he will look at “anything the commission proposes” but if any proposal detracts from Social Security, he will have a problem.
“There are the people who operate under, paid into and expected from this system and we need to honor their commitment,” he said.
His solutions focused on generating more revenue. He said the Bush-era tax cuts for those making over $250,000 must expire in order to create the necessary revenue and savings.
“We need to achieve the kinds of savings desired to save Social Security and Medicare,” he said.
Larson and the speakers also proposed taxing wealthy Americans with properties worth more than $3.5 million or a financial tax on Wall Street speculation. They also suggested raising the Social Security payroll tax cap on incomes higher than $106,800.
While Larson proposed some remedies, he said no solution will serve as a quick fix.
“These are structural problems that we’re dealing with and they can’t be solved in a single election cycle,” he said.
The speakers agreed that the income supplied by Social Security proves difficult to survive on alone. Taking away or detracting from the average Social Security income of $13,000-15,000 a year will only worsen the already 6.9 percent of people over age 65 living in poverty.
“We need something to help keep our heads above water,” said Mary Elia, an organizer for the Connecticut Alliance for Retired Americans.
Connecticut AFL-CIO President John Olsen said the less than extravagant income of Social Security, combined with a raised retirement age, will affect quality of life and life expectancy.
“Poverty also has a lot to do with life expectancy,” he said. “This is a benefit. You can’t say some seniors deserve it and some don’t.”
According to the Connecticut Alliance for Retired Americans, 64 percent of Americans oppose raising the retirement age from 67 to 69 years old. Eighty-one percent also oppose cutting benefits in order to address the deficit.
“We’ve finally gotten to a point where our mothers, fathers, grandmothers and grandfathers can live to the point of dignity,” Olsen said. “I’m going to have a better standard of living if we fight for it.”