Social Security and the American People

Floor Speech

Date: March 31, 2022
Location: Washington, DC


Mr. LARSON of Connecticut. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to talk about Social Security and its importance to the American people.

Mr. Speaker, everybody is alarmed by the fact that we have been dealing with a global pandemic. That global pandemic, commonly referred to as COVID, has taken close to a million lives in the United States of America. Over 700,000 of those lives are individuals over the age of 65.

The COVID pandemic has also turned the economy upside down and has led to a period of inflation. And during that period, the group that is impacted the most as well are seniors in America. It is people that are on fixed incomes that need our help directly.

There are more than 10,000 baby boomers a day who become eligible for Social Security. And for about 40 percent of senior beneficiaries, Social Security provides the majority of their income. And for one in six Americans, it provides more than 90 percent of their income. And yet, shamefully, the United States Congress has not taken action on this in more than 50 years.

Today, and every day, you can hear Members come to the floor and talk about their concern for our constituents; most notably, the elderly and even more poignantly, the veterans. More veterans rely on Social Security disability than they do on the VA. And yet, Congress has not addressed this issue in more than 50 years. The last time Congress addressed this issue, milk was 72 cents a gallon. Everybody knows that those prices have become so high today that it causes seniors to have to put food back on the grocery shelves because they can't afford it. This is especially true for people of color.

Mr. Speaker, I commend our former leader, John Lewis, who pointed out and said that Social Security is the next Civil Rights Movement because of the discrimination that is taking place within Social Security. And because also, people have come to rely on it because it is a guarantee.

We don't have to go back to 1929 and the great crash. We only have to go back as far as 2008 and 2009 to look at what happened in that recession and find out that people's 401(k) became a 101(k). And yet, during that same time period, Social Security never missed a payment-- not a pension payment, not a spousal payment, not a dependent coverage payment, and not a disability payment.

This is not something the President can do by executive order, nor is it anything that the Supreme Court is going to adjudicate. This is the responsibility of the United States Congress, and help is on the way. People are going to have an opportunity to vote on Social Security 2100, bringing Social Security into this century and then also rectifying the discrimination that has taken place.

Recent polls show this: That 64 percent of Black adults say securing Social Security should be the top priority for the President and Congress to address this year. Martin Luther King had a better way of saying it. He called it the ``fierce urgency of now.''

In the midst of this pandemic, remember this, my colleagues on both sides of the aisle: These are your brothers and sisters. These are your parents. These are your aunts and uncles. These are your co-workers. These are people you worship with.

Over 5 million Americans get below-poverty level checks from Social Security. Why? Because Congress hasn't taken on its responsibility and stepped up to the plate and done what is expected of them.

I commend Jim Clyburn, our leader here, who has come out strongly in favor of making sure that we address this inequality.