tv Washington Journal Rep. John Larson CSPAN February 1, 2023 3:45pm-4:14pm EST
union, how would you describe the social security program right now? rep. larson: it is fine because of the contributions that have been laid. guest: congress has not done anything in 50 plus years to enhance the program and improve the benefits. a loaf of bread costs $.72 in 1971, the last time social security had a major expansion of benefits. while it is sound and people should understand this is taking credit in the united states, because of the neglect on the part of congress, there has not been an increase. that needs to be changed permanently, so that seniors and
individuals who have disability are on the program are able to get financial backing they need. host: expanding or enhanced the benefits of social security is about $1 trillion a year? about in 21 5% in gdp. why is it expanding if we are not enhancing or expanding the program itself? guest: 10,000 baby boomers a day become eligible for social security. they represent the largest group. at 10,000 becoming eligible day, social security of congress -- if social security and congress does nothing, every
year congress delays do something -- delays doing something it gets harder to make up the difference. harder in terms of the costs because social security needs to be paid for. a point i always make. i think one your listeners understand. social security is not an entitlement plan. this is a earned benefit. all they need to look at their federal insurance contribution. some like to call it tax. it is federal insurance contribution whose, yours. i think citizens know this and they understand it is a earned benefit they are at a gasp when they learned that congress has not done anything in over 50 years to enhance the program. we have 5 million people, 5 million fellow americans that
get below poverty level checks from social security. having worked and paid into the system. 5 million, predominantly women of color, none the less it is 5 million americans in the poverty level. 12,000 800,000. how do you live in under 12,800? host: do you take speaker mccarthy at his word when he said that cuts to social security are off the table when it comes to what may happen here in a negotiation about the debt limit and possible spending cuts? host: we know that president trump -- unfortunately, i hope the speaker is correct. social security should not be held hostage by the debt ceiling. overly their negotiations today proved to be fruitful.
i think with the president is going to ask in that what i think everyone should ask speaker mccarthy, where is your plan. when they produced this document, 154 republican signed onto, they adopt a plan and call for 21% across the board and also 20 separate little cuts. they have not produced a plan. a member from texas who was in the chair, he was not allowed to bring his and forward. he was able to balance social security by making cuts. i think the republicans first and foremost, we hope because nobody needs to be put through this anxiety. nor should the nation for like we are on the president's of the fall -- precedents of the fall.
a lot of republicans have come to me personally and say, we really need to get this done. i say, fine. give us your plan. bernie sanders just announced another plan along with elizabeth warren in the senate. there's going to be no shortage on the democrat side. we need to see a plan. host: you have a plan. social security. guest: it expands social security. it expands benefits that need to take place. i mentioned before, 5 million in this country who are living below poverty level checks from the federal government. this bill says, no one who paid into social security throughout their lives can retire into poverty. the new threshold for a minimum of social security will be 125%
over the poverty rate established by the government. that will immediately lift up 5 million people, as well as enhancing benefits that have not been done for 50 years, including what is actually based on what the aarp calls, the expenses that seniors occur. but the legislation says is, whatever is greater in terms of the need for the senior, that will be the cola as established under this legislation. people are continuing to work out of necessity. making sure -- which impacts 22 states specifically and impacts people who are teachers,
firefighters, police officers as well. long overdue in time to focus on it. host: we are with us until the bottom of the hour with best. 930 time eastern. 930 eastern. enhancements costs money. how do you pay for it? guest: thank you for asking that. currently, social security is capped, annually it rises. the current rate is $147,800. anything made above that is not taxed. what we have said is, let's lift the cap. people over 400,000, who make over 400,000 a year.
that is about 6/10 of 1% of the nation. when it does is generate the revenue. why should a billionaire not pay the same thing a person making 30 to $50,000 a year. the american people see this as fair. it is an enormous amount of money that it raises. it allows us not only to provide sovereignty, but it also allows us the opportunity fundamentally to strengthen america's number one poverty program for the elderly. of the most successful governmental program we had in terms of not only protecting the elderly, but the number one program for children. number one used by veterans, especially in the area of disability. host: did we always have a cap? guest: we have always had a cap.
there should not be a cap. i'm sure way back when to get the folks to compromise who may have been reached. we just celebrated 83 years since a -- received the first social security check. it has never missed a payment. you don't have to go to the great depression to explain this in more. all you have to do is go back to 2008 and 2009. when people watch their 401(k) become 8101 k -- 101 k, that is a lesson that during that same period, social security never missed a payment. host: just wanted to show viewers ida getting that first
check picture. democrats. good morning. caller: hello. i personally believe that the new ai artificial intelligence stuff is going to put millions of white-collar jobs out. i am curious how you will continue to fund social security if we lose a significant portion of our white-collar jobs? guest: i will say this, as president biden has done several times. this is a sacred trust between the american people and the government. it is the full faith in credit in the united states government. i do think we are going to become more productive as the nation and continue to produce
more revenue. from that standpoint, we also have two make sure we just discussed lifting the cap. i believe initially by lifting the cap of people making over 400,000, the infusion of dollars into the system allows us both to expand services that people desperately need, but then also make sure that the program is solving into the future. host: congressman larson with us the next 15 minutes. congressman, this is laura in madison, virginia. republican. you are on with congressman larson. caller: i have two issues.
one is on ssi, supplemental health security income, which is actually run by social security and the impact that ssi has become a retirement program for the world. any illegal immigrant who comes here is eligible for supplemental, which includes medicaid. the other issue is, we have two get honest of the finding of social security, especially when -- there are billions of dollars
that are in the suspense file for people who are misusing social security numbers. fica is going in there. guest: thank you for your call. the first big question was related to ssi. ssi is administered by the social security administration. it is a separate account the trust fund is in. your question i believe has to deal with immigrants. there are a number of people who work here in the country and pay fica tax and receive no benefits. we have not had immigration reform, which we desperately need and also have a path forward to people to becoming citizens to receive the benefits
and also pay in supplemental benefits that ssi pays out, even though it is administered through social security. host: amherst, massachusetts. rachel in independent. caller: thank you for taking my call. i am hearing feedback on my phone. this is going to be confusing. i'm going to try to get my statement and question across quickly. ssi is what i the hash on my concern today is a letter that came from social security from the transitional assistant that oversees the snap program in massachusetts. your extra money from covid for your food ebt is going to be
stopped. this is your last increment coming up. after this, nothing. but is a 10% decrease in my entire income for the month. it is going to be a little catastrophic, i think my for me, but the whole demographic. i wonder what we as a group can do to forestall this catastrophic loss. we all have expenses that ebt does not cover. we do not cover our food expenses anymore with just ebt. we have to spend money. guest: i agree with the caller leaning to change. we have to stabilize social security and make sure it is
into the future. make sure we are providing the benefits so people can live on. you are talking about ssi, which is a different program. nonetheless, i think you made a very valid points in terms of congress needing to look at this to see what happens when people are in transition. why so and why are all of these things related. look at covid, this is a global pandemic which has taken hold -- hold on the entire world. who is the group most impacted of the united states? slightly more than one million people who have perished over covid, over 750,000 of them are over the age of 65. also, the people over age 65 are impacted the most by inflation
because they are on a fixed income. without the resources being available, people are going to continue to struggle. i think on several funds, understanding the impact on a person like yourself and what congress needs to do in terms of him enhancing benefits so that the wealthiest nation in the world, a nation that can afford to give 83% of the tax cut of the nations wealthiest 1%, we want to be able to take care of the people who are living on assistance. the average social security payment for a male is 18,000. for a female, close to 14,000. this is what they need to sustain themselves. i agree with the caller. we are hopeful because there's a
lot of interest on social security that we are able to get something done with respect to that. also, put forth the notion of looking at ssi and what needs to be done for people in your state . i am not just talking about massachusetts as your current fiscal state. host: the caller was talking about how the extra snap benefits came during covid. republicans have not shown an interest in this. do you think there's a need in this country today for more pandemic assistance? more covid response money from the federal government question would you push that in congress? host: it has got to be in a targeted group. who is the most impacted? people over the age of 65.
that is the same group, 66 million social security recipients. there has not been an enhancement in 50 years. it will be great if we can come on c-span and talk about it. but if congress actually votes -- something, they are still going to be this disparity of wealth and a disparity of retirees in our country. host: this is rhonda. democrats. guest: you have mentioned that 750 thousand people over 55 have perished with covid. caller: that is money the government is no longer putting out for social security. the funds for social security, are they being used for other means other than social security? guest: excuse me.
that is a frequent question we get asked. they are in the trust fund. they are not used further i think what gets confusing, the social security administration manages ssi, which is a entirely different program and necessary, but they are separate things. money is for social security that is deducted out of fica from the treasury into the trust fund. host: this is a j. line for republicans. about five minutes left. caller: good morning. what good thing i can tell you is that listening to what you are saying is, you want to spend a lot money. i cannot believe you. even now you are talking about, we are just going to spend a lot more money and we are going to tax more but we are going to raise the tax revenue.
this whole thing has never worked. it has not worked, otherwise we will not be in the situation we are in right now. i would say the social security system is the most successful system ever instituted by the united states government. caller: for the viewer, find another agency, whether it is the pentagon or any other agency, finding any other private sector industry that operates with they call insurance language, a 99% loss ratio. social security is administered with less than 1% of the costs going to the agency responsible for making sure that people get their pension payments, people get their spousal and dependent
coverage and disability. this is americans number one anti-poverty program for the elderly. it is america's most popular program as well, which is why congress needs to come together and make sure that we continue to enhance this. it is not just a question of not harming social security and medicare, congress has enacted in more than 50 years to enhance the program. the program meets enhancement. your fellow americans, someone like yourself as well are going to find you will need this program in order to sustain yourself as you go forth. it is an insurance plan, not tax plan. host: have you had any early conversations with chairman
jason smith about the legislation? guest: he approached me yesterday and told me he wanted to sit down and talk. that is a good sign. of the have expressed an interest. i think they got off on the wrong foot colin for holding social security and of the american economic system hostage about raising the debt ceiling in the economic chaos that would cause. they said their purpose was to go after the entitlement program after social security and medicare. former president trump coming out this week and saying, do not do this. all of a sudden, we have seen a little bit of change. i can only speculate on that. i do not know whether it did or
not. they are scrambling because they pre-much were out there prior to the election. this is a blueprint to save america. it this is the budget that the republican house study group opposed. it contains in here what they want to do with social security as well. the republican spending committee, it is their document. here it is in writing. certainly, we have heard of senator smith's program, senator scott's program. there is major concern on the part of congress, -- made it a point in his opening remark to say, we're prepared to sit down
and work with republicans on a multitude of issues. one thing will not stand for is caps to social security and medicare from a population that desperately needs it and where it desperately needs enhancement. i think that also has something to deal with that as well. host: one last call. andy has been waiting in new york. independent. caller: it is a pleasure to have you. i am so tired of conservative republicans every time a democrat takes office as president. social security is directly connected to renewable energy, the consumption of energy is what drives every economic structure. if we tied at least to me 5% of the trust fund directly, the prophet -- the profits we can take that.
the southern states have overflow in producing oil and gas. i think it will be great if the congressman from my area got together in solving these issues we have with social security. guest: what we need to do is come together and solve the issues. i think this is what frustrates viewers. people want to see what is intuitively obvious, the need to take the nation's number one insurance program, number one anti-poverty program and make sure that that is solid. what makes viewers edgy is when they hear all of the discussion about cuts or pending programs etc., it only adds to the anxiety that people are going through during this pandemic and inflationary time.
coming together is actually what is required and heightened by some of the things we hear. viewers like yourself, all across the nation, you need to hold people accountable. you need them to put forward their plan for what they would do. the american people can see this. they will get to weigh what one proposal is versus the other proposal and then have another opportunity to vote on it and have people more accountable. host: john larson is no stranger to c-span viewers. you can also catch up on the floor of the house. your copy of the congressional directory for the 118th