October 26, 2011
Today, the Older Women's Economic Security Task Force (OWES), part of the National Coalition of Women's Organizations (NCWO), delivered a letter to members of Congress, calling on Congress to consider three pieces of legislation that would assure Social Security solvency for the next 75 years by lifting the cap on payroll tax contributions -- a move that an overwhelming majority of the public has said they support, according to recent polls. The National Council of Women's Organizations is composed of 240 member organizations, with more than 12 million members; the OWES Task Force is co-chaired by the National Organization for Women (NOW) and the Institute for Women's Policy Research (IWPR).
The letter from the OWES Task Force states, "Social Security is a program that binds generations of Americans together, and we should strengthen, not weaken, this critical program. While these are tough economic times for everyone, a balanced budget should not come at the expense of millions of vulnerable Americans."
The Keeping Our Social Security Promises Act (S. 1558), introduced by Sen. Bernie Sanders, and the No Loopholes in Social Security Taxes Act (H.R. 797), introduced by Rep. Peter DeFazio, would close Social Security's 75-year funding gap by applying Social Security payroll tax contributions to cover earnings of $250,000 or more. Currently, only wages up to $106,800 are taxed. These bills would preserve the Social Security Trust Fund by closing a tax loophole so millionaires would pay the same percentage of their salaries to Social Security as the average American worker. This will guarantee that Social Security remains solvent for at least 75 years.
The Preserving our Promise to Seniors Act (H.R. 539), introduced by Rep. Ted Deutch, changes the COLA calculation from the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W) to a Consumer Price Index for the Elderly (CPI-E), which places more weight on the goods and services purchased by seniors. The CPI-E would account for the rising costs faced by seniors when determining Social Security cost of living increases.
According to a national survey conducted last month by the Lake Research Partners and American Viewpoint, U.S. voters overwhelmingly oppose cuts to Social Security and Medicare as a way to reduce the deficit. By a 50 point margin, they oppose cuts to these programs as a part of a potential Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction proposal. By a margin of 66 percent to 22 percent, they oppose reducing COLA increases for beneficiaries now and in the future.
"Social Security continues to keep many older women out of poverty," said NOW President and OWES Co-Chair Terry O'Neill. "We urge Congress to leave Social Security out of any deficit-reduction plan produced and to consider these three bills which could truly strengthen, not dismantle Social Security for future generations."
IWPR President and OWES Co-Chair Dr. Heidi Hartmann said, "Studies consistently show the critical importance of Social Security for many Americans; in fact, we have found that both women and men are increasingly reliant on Social Security income at this time of high unemployment and declining home and investment values."
Signers to the letter included leaders from the National Women's Political Caucus, U.S. Women's Chamber of Commerce, National Association of Mothers' Centers, Global Women's Project at the Center of Concern, American Association of University Women, Black Women's Health Imperative, Business and Professional Women's Foundation, National Association for Female Executives, Feminist Majority, Women's Institute for a Secure Retirement, Wider Opportunities for Women, Jewish Women International, Women's Committee of 100, Media Equity Collaborative, Women's Research and Education Institute, National Women's Law Center and Older Women's League.
The National Council of Women's Organizations is composed of more than 240 women's organizations representing more than 12 million U.S. women. The Older Women's Economic Security (OWES) Task Force was formed in 1998 to study, monitor, and act to enhance older women's economic security. NOW and the Institute for Women's Policy Research (IWPR) are co-chairs of the OWES Task Force.