By Alex Stone
Enactment of the “Rebuild America Act”, introduced by Iowa Democratic Senator Tom Harkin, would do more to help the American economy and revitalize the middle class than any other bill currently before Congress.
This sweeping legislation would boost employment by investing in
infrastructure upgrades, promoting U.S. manufacturing, and ending tax breaks that encourage U.S. firms to move production offshore.
It would also have immediate and positive impacts for the middle class by increasing access to affordable, quality child care; establishing a fair national
minimum wage; allowing all Americans to earn paid sick leave; and strengthening and protecting Social Security, among other things.
It’s clear this legislation would provide considerable help to the American middle class, but its provisions to strengthen and protect Social Security are particularly noteworthy.
For Social Security beneficiaries, the “Rebuild America Act” would increase benefits by about $60/month for the average beneficiary – a boon for seniors, disabled workers and survivors living on fixed incomes. It would also change the way the Social Security Administration calculates benefits from the current Consumer Price Index for workers (CPI-W) to the Consumer Price Index for Elders (CPI-E), which more accurately reflects inflationary health care and other costs faced by seniors.
To pay for these changes, and to ensure Social Security is solvent and
soundly-financed well into the future, Senator Harkin proposes “scrapping
the $110,000 cap” on taxable wages, ensuring all Americans pay into Social Security at the same tax rate. High earners – who currently pay a much lower tax rate into Social Security than middle class earners – would then pay the same rate of 6.2%.
The “Rebuild America Act” is legislation that would address some of the most critical issues affecting middle class families today. Its provisions to strengthen and protect Social Security deserve special attention.
(Alex Stone is Communication Manager for the Economic Opportunity Institute and a PSARA member.)