CEDAR RAPIDS — Heading into the final year of his Senate career before retirement, Sen. Tom Harkin is calling for reforms to Social Security to extend the life of the program and increase benefits to recipients.

Harkin, chairman of the Health, Education, Labor and Pension Committee, has frequently warned of a “staggering crisis” in retirement security. There is a $6.6 trillion gap between what people have saved, what’s available in private pensions and Social Security and their retirement income needs, he said Thursday.

He has proposed changes to raise Social Security benefits about $65 a month, alter the cost-of-living calculation for benefits and increase the amount high earners pay into the 78-year-old program. The changes, Harkin said, would extend the life of the Social Security trust fund to 2049.

The opposition the proposal has received “highlights a profound disconnect between Washington and folks outside the Beltway,” Harkin said.

“Back in Iowa, the response has been overwhelmingly positive,” he said. But in Washington, the “so-called Serious People — we call them SPs — are determined to slash Social Security benefits and place the burden of deficit reduction on senior citizens.”

“The Serious People are seriously out of touch,” according to Harkin.

In Iowa, he said, 30 percent of Iowa retirees sole source of income is Social Security and 41 percent of Iowa seniors would be living below the poverty line without Social Security. That’s higher than the national average of one-third.

Overall, about 400,000 Iowans receive an average of $14,000 a year in Social Security benefits.

“The idea of slashing that benefit, I think, is unconscionable,” Harkin said.

His plan also would remove the wage cap that “unfairly protects high earners from paying payroll taxes at the same rate as middle-class workers.” That would help sustain the program, which is solvent now, but faces significant deficits in future decades.

Despite what its detractors say, Social Security is fully paid for and “has never contributed a dime to the deficit or the debt,” Harkin said.

Social Security, Harkin concluded, “is the most-efficient and most-effective federal program in our nation’s history, and we should keep it that way.”

(17) comments


In the beginning of SS there was a ratio of 13 people paying in for every 1 drawing benefits. It is down to about 6 to 1 now. That will fall to 2 to 1 by about 2030 or so. Doing nothing is not an option. If nothing is done it will be another big scre**** for our kids and grandkids from the democrat party that is making it a cottage industry to scr** that generation. Obviously we cannot mess with the benefits of people drawing now or who will be in the next fifteen years or so. But we sure as he** better start the process of fixing it for the long term. And calling republicans names and telling lies about what they want isn't the way to fix the problem. Democrats see SS as "their baby" and want to continue to use it as a political tool. They are shameless about politicizing serious issues.


You’ve got to be one of the biggest liars ever.

Social Security was stolen by the reagan and the dubya to pay for their large tax cuts for the wealthy.

And, that’s the truth, you limbaugh wanna-be! :-)


You have no idea what you are talking about. Klaatu is actually spot on. Democrats refuse to do what it takes to save Social Security. Harkin has part of a solution, but it will not save it. Raising benefits also will just accelerate its death.


It's rather obvious that you're just another low information Faux News propagandist! :-)


I find it ironic that Tom Harkin has anything to say about Social Security being broke, except perhaps "I'm sorry." Harkin has voted again and again to raid the SS fund, beginning with LBJ's Great Society boondoggle. Harkin has promoted and pushed every liberal give-away program since he came to office. Bye-bye Tommie, watch out for the door swinging shut as you go.


GOP Social Security Reform in a Nutshell

Punish the People who haven't spent a single dime so those that actually did spend the money can continue to get better benefits than the next generation will see

It doesn't seem very Moral or Ethical to me, in fact it sounds like Evil Greed ....


The gop has turned into the axis of evil that dubya used call other countries.


You are a fool. Seriously a total fool.


Nobody is advocating any kind of cuts to anyone getting SS now or in the near future. But if you think there isn't going to be a real crisis you are a total idiot. We have gone from a ratio of 13 to 1 to about 6 to 1 in people paying in to people collecting benefits. It will drop to 2 to 1 by 2035. That won't be sustainable, and no amount of politicizing it will change that reality. Obamacare will start to address the problem of old people collecting benefits for too long after they retire. Their Healthcare Advisory Board will decide at what age to cut off cancer treatments, drugs, and surgeries. They won't put them down like dogs, but they will find ways to hasten the exit from the programs and that will be your cost containment. Obama said it himself when asked by a woman if her spirited 103 year old mother would get her needed operation Obama told her "no", she would just get a pill. That is the truth and you lying jerk democrats can't change the truth no matter what kind of garbage you spew here.


Please explain in detail what social security payments are being "slashed". Are you referring to changing the cost of living formula (Chained CPI)? Even if the CPI is adjusted this will not reduce anyones social security payment, only change the rate of increase. Again, please tell us what SS benefits will be "slashed"?


Were you born yesterday? It is you democrats who have raised taxes on SS income repeatedly. It was you democrats who decided to loot the fund to give benefits to families of aliens who come into the country. The money you have wasted in the last fifty years would have funded it forever. You are the axis of evil. Everything that comes out of you democrats pieholes is a lie.


Was a great way to take the responsibility of children looking after Mom and Dad if they needed help out of the picture. Obama care will fix all that with a little sleeping pill. I mean its only humane right? Better the big sleep that dying sick, hungry and cold. If there is enough money to pay for this in the public sector, then it must come from the private sector right? Opps, I forgot that fund was raided a long time ago by Washington and that sacred lock box has but IOU's with the faces of generations of polticians printed on them. Borrowing and putting the responsibility of payback on successive generations in Washington speak is just something we should never have to worry about? That is because there is no intent to ever pay it back to the fund. What is the corrolation between borrowed money and borrowed time? Guess we will know soon enough. Three quarters of a century of fiscal fantasy has a hugh price.


Senator Harkin: 'Despite what its detractors say, Social Security is fully paid for and “has never contributed a dime to the deficit or the debt,” Harkin said.'

...But on 2/17/2012 Senator Harkin said:

'He also noted that under the deal worked out by House Republicans and Senate Democrats, the tax cut will not be offset with other spending cuts or tax increases and will add to the deficit.'

Sen. Harkin rips Obama for 'unraveling Social Security' with tax cut



I find it interesting now that he is retiring that he so concerned about S.S. . Tom, where were you for the last 30 years when the government was raiding the solvency of the fund?????

senor citizen

If Harkin isn't lying with his statements about Social Security being fully funded the Scheme would not be in need of "reform". This sounds like an old recycled statement from Sen. Claude Pepper (FL) who supposedly fixed it 30 some years ago, and who hopefully is today in a nice warm place, and needs Harkin to join him.



A SS Reform that doesn't penalize those of us that have never spent a dime of it and therefore simply cannot be the reason it is in trouble

One that does penalize Generation X so the Boomers can absolve themselves of their responsibility

Those of us 55 and younger DID NOT SPENT THAT MONEY and penalizing us like Representative Reject Ryan wants to is simply immoral .....


Thank you. Please remove the wage cap. That is a

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.