Social Security advocates have stopped playing defense. Now, they are going on offense and saying that just as the minimum wage should be hiked so should Social Security. In fact 43 Senate Democrats went on record in mid-April to support increasing Social Security. As the advocacy organization Social Security Works states, “Social Security expansion has gone from what many considered to be a fringe issue to being a core Democratic value along with raising the minimum wage and equal pay for equal work (both of which would strengthen Social Security in addition to being good ideas on their own).”
The divide between the parties is growing because a number of leading Republican candidates for President, especially New Jersey Governor Chris Christie are highlighting their advocacy of Social Security changes. He advocated raising the retirement age to 69 and also to means testing the program. Some Democrats continue to advocate raising the cap on earnings. Currently the Social Security payroll tax is only levied on the first $118,500 of annual income meaning those with incomes above it get a tax cut in their paychecks when their annual incomes exceed that amount. Democrats want to finance greater benefits for lower income beneficiaries with the added tax revenues generated by raising the cap.
President Obama had proposed the “chained CPI” which would have used a different measurement of inflation and would have lowered the annual increase. He is no longer pushing this position. Retirement security is one of four major issues to be addressed by the 2015 White House Conference on Aging this summer.