Warren’s Social Security plan would raise benefits, make wealthy pay for it

warren at bonanza
Elizabeth Warren prior to addressing a rally at Bonanza High School in Las Vegas in April. (Nevada Current file photo).
warren at bonanza
Elizabeth Warren prior to addressing a rally at Bonanza High School in Las Vegas in April. (Nevada Current file photo).

More than a half million Nevadans who receive Social Security benefits would see an extra $200 a month and larger annual benefit increases, under a Social Security reform plan released by Elizabeth Warren Thursday.

Warren’s plan would also change rules that, according to Warren, effectively deprive low-income households, people with disabilities, and people of color of adequate benefits.

The plan would also bring public employees, whose public pay in Nevada as in many states is excluded from Social Security, into the system — a reform that Warren’s campaign estimates would boost benefits for more than 43,000 Nevadans.

Warren also proposes creating a credit to increase benefits for caregivers who have foregone job earnings — and Social Security contributions used to calculate benefits — because they have been caring for family members instead of working for pay. The campaign estimates nearly 350,000 Nevadans would be eligible for the credit.

Warren proposes to pay for the increased and enhanced benefits chiefly by taxing incomes that are currently exempt from Social Security taxes: a 14.8 percent payroll tax on earnings of more than $250,000 a year, and a separate 14.8 percent tax on investment income with thresholds equal to $250,000 for a single taxpayer and $400,000 for a married couple filing jointly.

“Congress hasn’t increased Social Security benefits in nearly fifty years,” Warren wrote in a Medium post describing her plan. “When Washington politicians discuss the program, it’s mostly to debate about whether to cut benefits by a lot or a little bit.”

“We need to get our priorities straight,” Warren wrote. “We should be increasing Social Security benefits and asking the richest Americans to contribute their fair share to the program.”

Other leading Democratic presidential candidates have released Social Security plans with elements similar to Warren’s. Joe Biden released a Social Security plan in July that increases benefits, particularly for low income workers, and increases taxes, though the specifics on the tax increases haven’t been announced.

Bernie Sanders would boost benefits on average by $1,300 a year, and also tax incomes over $250,000, through a 12.4 percent payroll tax and a 6.2 percent tax on investment income over $200,000 for single people and $250,000 for couples.

Hugh Jackson
Editor | Hugh Jackson has been writing about Nevada policy and politics for more than 20 years. He was editor of the Las Vegas Business Press, senior editor at the Las Vegas CityLife weekly newspaper, daily political commentator on the Las Vegas NBC affiliate, and wrote the then-groundbreaking Las Vegas Gleaner, which among other things was the only independent political blog from Nevada that was credentialed at the 2008 Democratic National Convention. He spent a few years as a senior energy and environmental policy analyst for Public Citizen, and has occasionally worked as a consultant on mining, taxation, education and other issues for Nevada labor and public interest organizations. His freelance work has been published in outlets ranging from the Guardian to Desert Companion to In These Times to the Oil & Gas Journal. For several years he also taught U.S. History courses at UNLV. Prior to moving to Las Vegas, he was a reporter and then assistant managing editor at the Casper Star-Tribune, Wyoming’s largest newspaper.

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