Preserving Social Security for America's seniors and for future generations is of paramount importance. For 70 years, Social Security has been the safety net for America's seniors. Unfortunately, many of our seniors struggle to make ends meet on the current benefit system. I will never support any proposal that privatizes Social Security or erodes retirement benefits that workers have earned through a lifetime of hard work.
At least one in five seniors depend on Social Security as their sole source of income, but for years, the buying power of these checks has dwindled in the face of skyrocketing health care and prescription drug costs. The costs of prescription drugs are skyrocketing, but cost of living adjustments (COLAs) are not keeping up with these astronomical cost increases. Because of the general deflation due to the economic recession, the Social Security Administration announced seniors would not receive any COLA in 2010 or 2011. Even though there will be a 2012 COLA, it will be completely used up by rising medical costs for the majority of seniors. This is unacceptable, and it is clear that the formula the Social Security Administration uses to calculate COLAs must change. I have sponsored legislation to change this injustice and to ensure that Social Security remains solvent and strong for the next seventy-five years.
In addition, I have been working to strengthen Social Security by lifting the contributions and benefits cap that prevents income above $106,000 from being subject to the payroll tax or included in future calculations for Social Security benefits. Simply by "scrapping the cap" and making the payroll tax apply fairly to all income earners, we can extend the solvency of Social Security for decades while protecting benefits for current and future retirees.
As we strengthen the country's most successful program, Social Security, it is also important to look at new ways to incentivize private retirement savings as well. Especially in this struggling economy it has been difficult for many families to make ends meet, let alone put aside money for IRAs and other retirement savings. I will continue to work with my colleagues to find ways to help individuals supplement the Social Security benefits they earned through a lifetime of hard work with private investments and savings.