The Real Fix for Social Security

A Social Security Works email of July 24th provided information for this article.

While many in Washington are talking about cutting Social Security benefits, there are at least two Senators who are taking steps to increase benefits for seniors.

“Senators Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Mark Begich (D-AK) have proposed legislation that would:

  • Increase cost of living adjustments (COLAs), not decrease them. Instead of cutting benefits through a Chained CPI formula, Senators Harkin and Begich have proposed using a benefit formula designed specifically to take into account seniors’ rising living expenses such as healthcare, food, and housing.
  • Ensure that the wealthy are paying their fair share into Social Security. Currently, Americans are only paying Social Security payroll taxes on their first $113,700. That means that many Wall Street workers would pay a far lower share of their earnings than most other workers. By lifting the payroll tax cap on Social Security, we can extend the life of Social Security for at least the next 75 years.
  • Increase Social Security benefits for all recipients by approximately $70 per month, or $800 a year. Senator Harkin’s bill would reform the benefit formula for all beneficiaries, but target those most in need. This would result in an across the board benefit increase, with the most going to those in the lower and middle classes.

“Social Security is the most successful anti-poverty program in our country’s history and has never contributed a single penny to the deficit. We now the right wing’s game plan is to try to force cuts to Social Security and Medicare as concessions in upcoming budget fights. It is time for us to strengthen, not cut Social Security, and the Harkin and Begich bills are our chance.”

You can sign the Social Security Works/Democracy for America petition calling on the U.S. Senate to support of these bills at

“Thanks to declining wages and the Great Recession, more than half of all American households can’t retain the same basic living standards in retirement that we know our grandparents and veterans deserve.

“Help Democracy for America and Social Security Works combat this growing retirement security crisis and tell Congress that Americans support expanding Social Security—not cutting it.” Please show your support today.

September Meeting

by Carla Hansen

September’s meeting will be packed with items after our hiatus (or should I say BBQ-ing) in August. We’ll have two elected officials joining us. Contra Costa Supervisor John Gioia will discuss the up-coming and on-going issues before the California Air Resources Board. (See the article about his recent appointment on page 2.) He will also
address land use regulations to improve air quality, Contra Costa County outreach for the Covered California Healthcare exchange, and a potential Bay Area parcel tax for wildlife restoration. BART Board Director Zakhary Mallett will give a brief presentation on BART extension in West County.

The rest of the meeting will be dedicated to important Club business. Club President Scott Lyons will make an important announcement, and the Executive Board has presented the following two action items for possible club action:

1. Consider an endorsement of the All-Care Alliance, a new organization of single-payer healthcare advocates:
“We believe that healthcare is a basic human right, and everyone is entitled to high-quality, affordable, comprehensive care. We support the establishment of a fully publicly financed, single-payer healthcare system in California and the nation.

2. The structure of the ECDC membership dues is complicated and currently includes nine different categories. The E-Board has proposed simplifying the payment structure for voting members while retaining the extra payment required to finance the printing and mailing of the newsletter.

Consider revisions to the club/membership dues payments as of the 2014 membership year: 

(Full) Voting membership 

  • Single: $20
  • Two-at one address: $30
  • Low-income memberships available

Newsletter (membership not required)

  • Electronic delivery: free with membership, and on
  • USPS delivery: $10

What a Swell Party This Was!

by Al Miller and Chuck Carpenter

Photos by Al Miller

It was a “wonderful day in the neighborhood” for Contra Costa County Democrats as the DPCCC hosted its 82nd Annual BBQ in West County this year at the Kennedy Grove Recreational Area near the San Pablo Dam Reservoir.

We enjoyed wonderful company on a wonderful day with great food and most all of the Democratic candidates and community leaders you could hope to find in one spot. Over 150 activist Democrats attended this event. 

DPCCC Chair Chuck Carpenter, center, and fellow Democrats at the DPCCC 82nd Annual BBQ.

DPCCC Chair Chuck Carpenter presided over the event introducing the various office holders, candidates, and party officials attending while ensuring they did not speak too long! 

We heard from Betty Yee, candidate for State Controller, State Senators Mark DeSaulnier, Ellen Corbett and three of the seven probable candidates for State Assemblymember in AD15—Elizabeth Echols, (D) Regional Administrator, Small Business Administration; Tony Thurmond, (D) Former trustee, West Contra Costa USD and former Richmond City Councilmember; and Cecilia Valdez, (D) Councilmember, San Pablo.

The only AD 15 candidate/probable candidate that did not attend Sam Kang (D) Attorney who called, explaining he had a former obligation, Andy Katz (D) Director and East Bay Municipal Utility District, Peggy Moore (D) Community Organizer arrived after the speeches and spent the afternoon with the Democrats at the event.

Assembly members Nancy Skinner(15) and Joan Buchanan(16) also spent the afternoon with us.

BART Directors Joel Keller and Zachary Mallett also attended. A very diverse group of Democrat City Council Members from Concord, Antioch, El Cerrito, Richmond, San Pablo and Hercules. The Democratic National Committee was represented by Shawn Bagley(Salinas) as well as CDP Regional Directors Cheslog and Kelly.

AD15 candidate Tony Thurmond addresses fellow Democrats at the DPCCC 82nd Annual BBQ. Other AD15 candidates who spoke are San Pablo City Councilmember Cecilia Valdez, to his right, and Elizabeth Echols, Regional Administrator, Small Business Administration, to her right.

Congressmen Thompson and Miller were both out of the area, but sent representatives and contributions.

ECDC was well represented by the following members: (Please let me know if I missed you!) El Cerrito City Councilmembers Janet Abelson and Rebecca Benassini, Immediate Past President & CDP Controller Hilary Crosby, VP-Publications Carla Hansen, Nancy Klein, Joe Lifschutz & Jean Niehaus, President Scott Lyons (with Katie), Gloria and Dwight Merrill, Barbara and Al Miller, Rochelle PardueOkimoto, VP-Programs Gabe Quinto, and Ciony & Bob Weinberg.

Hope to see more of you at the future DPCCC events, especially as we all prepare for the 2014 elections. If we are to continue to ensure that Democratic values are expressed in our local, county, and state communities and our country, all Democrats need to roll up our sleeves and get to work.

Each of us can do something—we just need to figure out what that something is, and do it! One thing we all can do is carry voter registration forms with us and register new Democrats.