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Increasing Social Security Benefits: An Idea Whose Time Has Come

Richard Eskow


huffingtonpost.com


http://www.huffingtonpost.com/rj-eskow/increasing-social-securit_b_2659768.html

February 19, 2013

Archaeologists of the future will sift through our newspapers, websites, and other ephemera and marvel at the inverted shape of our political debate.

They'll be particularly surprised to discover that, at a time when retirement security was being destroyed for an entire generation, politicians were posturing over how to make the problem even worse by cutting Social Security.

And they'll marvel over how long it took us to agree on the right solution: Increasing Social Security benefits instead.

The concept of increasing Social Security has been around for a while. Strengthen Social Security, a coalition of 320 groups, reviewed the program's ability to meet current and future needs and concluded that benefits should be increased rather than cut. The National Academy for Social Insurance proposed increasing benefits for vulnerable groups. The AFL-CIO has called for raising benefits. We got in the game, too, suggesting that a 15 percent increase in 2011 be included as part of a forward-thinking progressive agenda. (That earned us our only Rush Limbaugh rant so far -- that was fun).

Now the idea may be re-entering the national id, beginning on the left. In a USA Today op-ed, economist and influential blogger Duncan Black (Atrios) proposed a 20 percent increase in benefits. So did Joan McCarter at the widely-read Daily Kos site.

But it's not really a "left" position. As a recent survey from the National Academy for Social Insurance revealed, strong majorities of independents and Republicans think the idea has merit. In fact, pretty much everybody agrees -- except the parties who are talking about making a "Grand Bargain": Republican leaders who are out of step with their own rank and file, and the president and some other Democratic power players (who are really out of step with their rank and file).

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Richard "RJ" Eskow, serves on the IEET Board of Directors and as a Senior Fellow with the Campaign for America's Future. RJ is CEO of Health Knowledge Systems (HKS) in Los Angeles.

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