My grandfather didn’t have it easy – he moved from job to job throughout his life trying to make ends meet. He was employed as a factory worker, a security guard, and even ran a convenience store in New Britain for a while. When he retired, he had saved as much as he could, but he needed Social Security to survive. And when my grandmother got really sick, it was Medicare that paid the bills and kept them out of bankruptcy. My grandparents are simply representative of the millions of seniors who rely on Social Security to help pay bills, Medicare to keep them well, and Medicaid to help them if they run out of money to pay for their needs.
That’s why I strongly oppose turning Social Security and Medicare over to the private sector. Privatization would make lots of money for health insurers and investors, but leave seniors with a lot less than they have now. But my head is not in the sand – as a young parent, I understand that these programs, left unchanged, will not meet the needs of my children's generation. That’s why I’ve pushed to change the way we pay for health care. Moving away from a system that rewards volume to a system that must, in the future, reward quality and outcomes will save billions of dollars and keep people healthier. When it comes to fixing Social Security, there are a number of proposals on the table to help replenish the trust fund, but I strongly believe that whatever solution we reach, beneficiaries should not be asked to pick up the tab. We can start real reform of social security by raising the cap on income that is taxable for Social Security. Currently, the way we fund Social Security hurts the very workers who rely on the program for retirement. While a worker making $118,000 will pay 6.2% of their income into Social Security, a person making $100 million a year pays just .0073% of theirs. This is wrong. By raising the cap on income that is taxable for Social Security –we can ensure Social Security remains on stable footing for decades. In the short term, we need to ensure that Social Security keeps pace with the cost of living and that seniors are given a raise each year.
We also need to make sure that we’re providing adequate resources for people caring for a loved one. In Connecticut, 1 in 6 residents are providing care for a relative, and 70 percent believe they will at some point. There is a caregiving crisis in America, as millions of Americans often have to leave the workforce entirely or reduce their hours significantly to care for loved ones at some point in their career. Unfortunately, this lowers their future Social Security benefit, threatening their own retirement. That’s why I introduced the Social Security Caregiver Credit Act, which would allow caregivers to continue to get credit toward Social Security eligibility. By creating a Social Security Caregiver credit, caregivers who had to leave the workforce entirely, or continue to work with significantly reduced hours, would receive modest retirement compensation. There must be a shift in how we define work in America. Taking care of loved ones is work, and it’s past time that we acknowledge it.