Mike Honda’s ‘scrap the cap’ bill introduced

Rep. Mike Honda on Wednesday announced he has helped introduce the Social Security legislation he promised earlier this summer, to remove the cap on payroll taxes and expand benefits for current and future retirees.

H.R. 3118, the Strengthening Social Security Act of 2013, was introduced Tuesday by Rep. Linda Sanchez, D-Cerritos, along with Honda and U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa.

“This legislation will ensure that benefits keep up with today’s rising costs, and that current and future retirees regain the security of aging with dignity,” Honda, D-San Jose, said in a news release. “There is no doubt that the program needs structural improvements, and the fairest, simplest way to keep it solvent is to require all Americans – regardless of income level – to contribute equally.”

The bill eliminates the cap on taxable income paying into Social Security; right now, people are only taxed on the first $113,700 of income. Honda says that means someone earning $1 million per year is taxed at a significantly lower percentage than a worker making $50,000, the national average.

The bill also makes formula adjustments to increase benefits by about $800 per year to better reflect rising healthcare costs.

The bill is backed by a plethora of unions, retiree interest groups and liberal organizations. Honda is making it a centerpiece of his re-election campaign, in which he’s being challenged by fellow Democrat Ro Khanna, a former Obama administration official.

Khanna last month said he favors immediate action to ensure Social Security’s solvency at current benefit levels “without making empty promises that could ultimately threaten the system overall.” He said he’s “in principle open to expanding benefits after the solvency is ensured.”

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.