Social Security

Floor Speech

Date: July 20, 2022
Location: Washington, DC


Mr. CARTWRIGHT. I thank Chairman Larson for yielding me the time, and it is an honor and a privilege for me to speak out in favor of this wonderful bill, Social Security 2100.

Social Security, something that has been a triumph for American government for close to a hundred years now; Social Security that has kept seniors out of poverty.

It used to be that in this country, seniors died in poverty, died of starvation. That happened in America. Don't think it couldn't happen again. But under the Social Security Administration, it doesn't happen.

Seniors who work their whole lives and pay into this insurance program reap the benefit of doing so and have money coming to them. It isn't a lot, but it is keeping people alive and out of poverty, and out of poverty through some of the most extreme downturns in our economy.

It is something that protected seniors from starving to death during terrible moments of economic stress and distress in this country.

Social Security is something that all of us Americans ought rightfully to be proud of; that it was enacted during the Roosevelt administration; that has been protected and defended for generation after generation; and that it has succeeded in keeping Americans out of poverty in the most dire circumstances.

It is a legacy that the Democratic party are very, very proud of, and all of us band together at a moment's notice to protect it when it is threatened by those who think ill of it.

Those instances have not been few or far between. There was the time in the early 2000s when there was this push to privatize Social Security. Instead of paying into the system and having it protected, no. The idea was just give the money to the people so they could invest it in the stock market. Let's throw the money in the stock market.

It was amazing that that was something that was brought up around 2004, 2005, in that timeframe. What happened in 2008? The stock market cratered. If people had put their Social Security investments into the stock market, they would have been destitute.

That is what happens when you so-called privatize Social Security. The people that want to push that are the ones that want to push the stock market up for their own particular personal gain.

But what it does at the same time is that it endangers and puts at risk the lifetime of earnings that people have put into Social Security to make their own retirements safe. We can't do that.

What else? They came up with this wonderful concept, you know. The chairman talked about the COLA, the cost-of-living adjustments, that come with Social Security.

Certainly, they haven't been anything to brag about over the years, but as meager and as minimal as they have been, something came up about 10 years ago called change CPI.

Now, that was a $50 economist's expression that meant lower cost of living increases for seniors. That is what they wanted--lower cost-of- living increases than what you were already getting on Social Security.

We stood foursquare, shoulder to shoulder, against that ridiculous provision, and we put an end to that kind of talk.

What else? They wanted to raise the retirement age. They always talk about that. The right-wingers want to raise the retirement age. How fair is that, raising the retirement age for people who have been lifting and carrying and climbing and working with their hands and putting their backs into their work, a whole lifetime?

You want to make them work into their 70s? Is that what we think Social Security is for? Is that what we think it is all about? Absolutely not. Democrats have stood foursquare and shoulder to shoulder against that, raising the retirement age.

But it gets better. As the chairman mentioned, there are enemies to Social Security, and, you know, a lot of times they don't say it out loud.

They would like to get rid of Social Security. They would like to privatize it. They would like to cut back on the benefits. They wring their hands about how much it costs, while all the time ignoring all of the people that it saves and keeps out of poverty and away from starvation. No, no. They ignore all of that. They would like to do away with it.

You know what? Just recently, these people came out from the shadows and identified themselves. In fact, there is a Senator by the name of Rick Scott from Florida who has said out loud that he wants Federal legislation, including Social Security and Medicare, to sunset every 5 years and have to be reauthorized by a fresh vote.

Sunset. Now, that is a euphemism for end. It is a euphemism for killing. It is a euphemism for doing away with one of the most successful programs in American legislation history. Sunset Social Security means do away with it, and that is all they are talking about.

They have the temerity now to say out loud what many of them have been thinking in private: Let's get rid of Social Security. I say, enough. Enough of this detraction from Social Security, this wonderful program.

I say, let's listen to Chairman Larson. Let's make Social Security stronger. Let's make it better. Let's make it more realistic for the benefits that it pays out. Let's raise the benefits by 2 percent. Let's make it stronger so it is going to last longer.

We haven't touched this program for generation after generation. Now is the time to enact Social Security 2100 to protect our seniors and this wonderful, enormously successful insurance program for all Americans; people who retire, people who are disabled.

This is a program that we must honor and respect and raise up, and we can accomplish this through this wonderful bill authored by my friend, John Larson of Connecticut, Social Security 2100.