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Carl Levin on Social Security

Democratic Sr Senator (MI)


Notch is unfair, but new law would create new unfairness

Q: The Senior Citizens League members are to a large extent Notch babies--those individuals who receive lower Social Security benefits because they were born in the years 1917 and immediately thereafter. Do you support Notch Reform?

A: I believe that the Social Security notch is unfair, since some “notch babies” benefits are calculated on the basis of a less generous formula than some people born before the notch years. However, providing for a legislative correction on the notch issue would create a new unfairness for the people born subsequent to the notch years, thereby creating a new notch. In addition, such a measure would be very expensive.

I understand that the Social Security notch concerns many senior citizens and senior citizens are split on this issue. For example, organizations such as AARP actively oppose notch reform proposals because they feel notch reform threatens the stability of the Social Security Trust Fund.

Source: Senior Citizens League Guide to the 2008 US Senate Campaigns , Oct 10, 2008

Study experimental indicators before changing COLA CPI

Q: Do you support COLA Fairness, based on the consumer price index (CPI) for seniors?

A: The Consumer Price Index for Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W) indicator adjusts the Social Security COLA, in addition to the COLAs to the Civil Service Retirement System, Supplemental Security Income, veterans retirement benefits and railroad retirement benefits, as well as many other payments. The Social Security COLA not only impacts senior citizens, but also the 15% of Social Security beneficiaries that are under the age of 62 who are either disabled or receiving survivors’ benefits.

The CPI-E is one proposal that would change the indicator on which the Social Security COLA is based. However, many current studies have shown that these experimental indicators would not yield a significantly different COLA for Social Security beneficiaries.

I support a fair COLA and would consider legislation that considered fair and reasonable adjustments for those on Social Security.

Source: Senior Citizens League Guide to the 2008 US Senate Campaigns , Oct 10, 2008

Private accounts would erode the system into a jackpot

Q: Do you support Reform or Privatization?

A: Many experts believe Social Security is on sounder footing today than it has been for most of its 70-year history. Pres. Bush has proposed a plan to create private accounts. I believe doing so would erode the system. The stock market is unpredictable and privatizing Social Security would introduce uncertainty into the system creating winners and losers. Social Security would no longer be a guarantee for all Americans, but a jackpot for the lucky.

Social Security faces challenges, but it is not in crisis. As we work to address these challenges, the last thing we should do is cut Social Security’s revenues by diverting funds to private accounts, making the problem worse. Private market accounts take valuable resources away from the Trust Fund.

In the 1980s, we needed to make adjustments to the Social Security System and did so on a bipartisan basis to help protect Social Security without creating risk. We should take this approach again.

Source: Senior Citizens League Guide to the 2008 US Senate Campaigns , Oct 10, 2008

Voted NO on establishing reserve funds & pre-funding for Social Security.

Voting YES would:
  1. require that the Federal Old Age and Survivors Trust Fund be used only to finance retirement income of future beneficiaries;
  2. ensure that there is no change to benefits for individuals born before January 1, 1951
  3. provide participants with the benefits of savings and investment while permitting the pre-funding of at least some portion of future benefits; and
  4. ensure that the funds made available to finance such legislation do not exceed the amounts estimated to be actuarially available.

Proponents recommend voting YES because:

Perhaps the worst example of wasteful spending is when we take the taxes people pay for Social Security and, instead of saving them, we spend them on other things. Even worse than spending Social Security on other things is we do not count it as debt when we talk about the deficit every year. So using the Social Security money is actually a way to hide even more wasteful spending without counting it as debt. This Amendment would change that.

Opponents recommend voting NO because:

This amendment has a fatal flaw. It leaves the door open for private Social Security accounts by providing participants with the option of "pre-funding of at least some portion of future benefits."

Make no mistake about it, this is a stalking-horse for Social Security. It looks good on the surface, but this is an amendment to privatize Social Security.
Reference: Bill S.Amdt.489 on S.Con.Res.21 ; vote number 2007-089 on Mar 22, 2007

Voted NO on Social Security Lockbox & limiting national debt.

This vote limited debate on the amendment offered by Sen. Abraham (R-MI) that would have created a Social Security "lockbox" and establish limits on the public debt. [A YES vote was for a lockbox]. This vote failed because 3/5 of the Senate did not vote.
Status: Cloture Motion Rejected Y)54; N)45; NV)1
Reference: Motion to invoke cloture on Amdt #254 to S. 557; Bill S. 557 ; vote number 1999-90 on Apr 22, 1999

Voted NO on allowing Roth IRAs for retirees.

Senator Roth (R-DE) offered this amendment to the IRS Restructuring and Reform Act to allow people older than 70.5 with incomes over $100,000 to move funds from an Individual Retirement Account into a Roth IRA.
Status: Amdt Agreed to Y)56; N)42; NV)2
Reference: Roth Amdt #2339; Bill H.R. 2676 ; vote number 1998-120 on May 6, 1998

Voted NO on allowing personal retirement accounts.

Vote on an amendment expressing the sense of the Senate that the Finance Committee should consider legislation to use the federal budget surplus to establish personal retirement accounts as a supplement to Social Security.
Reference: Bill S.Con.Res.86 ; vote number 1998-56 on Apr 1, 1998

Voted NO on deducting Social Security payments on income taxes.

Vote on an amendment to establish an income tax deduction for Social Security taxes paid by employees and the self-employed.
Reference: Bill S Con Res 57 ; vote number 1996-140 on May 22, 1996

Rated 100% by the ARA, indicating a pro-senior voting record.

Levin scores 100% by the ARA on senior issues

The mission of the Alliance for Retired Americans is to ensure social and economic justice and full civil rights for all citizens so that they may enjoy lives of dignity, personal and family fulfillment and security. The Alliance believes that all older and retired persons have a responsibility to strive to create a society that incorporates these goals and rights and that retirement provides them with opportunities to pursue new and expanded activities with their unions, civic organizations and their communities.

The following ratings are based on the votes the organization considered most important; the numbers reflect the percentage of time the representative voted the organization's preferred position.

Source: ARA website 03n-ARA on Dec 31, 2003

Other candidates on Social Security: Carl Levin on other issues:
MI Gubernatorial:
Jennifer Granholm
Mark Schauer
Rick Snyder
MI Senatorial:
Debbie Stabenow
Gary Peters
Matt Wiedenhoeft
Terri Lynn Land

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Retiring in 2014 election:
GA:Chambliss(R)
IA:Harkin(D)
MI:Levin(D)
MT:Baucus(D)
NE:Johanns(R)
SD:Johnson(D)
WV:Rockefeller(D)

Retired as of Jan. 2013:
AZ:Kyl(R)
CT:Lieberman(D)
HI:Akaka(D)
ME:Snowe(R)
ND:Conrad(D)
NE:Nelson(D)
NM:Bingaman(D)
TX:Hutchison(R)
VA:Webb(D)
WI:Kohl(D)
Senate Retirements 2014:
GA:Chambliss(R)
IA:Harkin(D)
MI:Levin(D)
MT:Baucus(D)
NE:Johanns(R)
OK:Coburn(R)
SD:Johnson(D)
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Senate races Nov. 2014:
AK: Begich(D) vs.Miller(R) vs.Treadwell(R) vs.Sullivan(R)
AL: Sessions(R,unopposed)
AR: Pryor(D) vs.Cotton(R)
CO: Udall(D) vs.Gardner(R) vs.Baumgardner(R) vs.Buck(R) vs.Hill(R) vs.Stephens(R)
DE: Coons(D) vs.O`Donnell(R)
GA: Gingrey(R) vs.Nunn(D) vs.Perdue(R) vs.Handel(R) vs.Broun(R) vs.Kingston(R)
HI: Schatz(D) vs.Hanabusa(D) vs.Cavasso(R)
IA: Braley(D) vs.Whitaker(R) vs.Ernst(R) vs.Clovis(R)
ID: Risch(R) vs.Mitchell(D)
IL: Durbin(D) vs.Oberweis(R) vs.Hansen(L) vs.Truax(R)
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KY: McConnell(R) vs.Bevin(R) vs.Grimes(D)
LA: Landrieu(D) vs.Cassidy(R) vs.Maness(R)
MA: Markey(D) vs.Herr(R) vs.Skarin(I) vs.Gomez(R)
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MI: Land(R) vs.Peters(D) vs.Wiedenhoeft(R)
MN: Franken(D) vs.McFadden(R) vs.Abeler(R)
MS: Cochran(R) vs.McDaniel(R) vs.Childers(D)
MT: Walsh(D) vs.Bohlinger(D) vs.Daines(R) vs.Edmunds(R)
NC: Hagan(D) vs.Tillis(R)
NE: Sasse(R) vs.Osborn(R)
NH: Shaheen(D) vs.Martin(R) vs.Brown(R) vs.Smith(R) vs.Rubens(R) vs.Testerman(R)
NJ: Booker(D) vs.Sabrin(R) vs.Lonegan(R)
NM: Udall(D) vs.Weh(R) vs.Clements(R)
OK-2: Shannon(R) vs.Lankford(R)
OK-6: Inhofe(R) vs.Silverstein(D)
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RI: Reed(D) vs.Carcieri(R)
SC-2: Scott(R) vs.Wade(D)
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VA: Warner(D) vs.Gillespie(R) vs.Sarvis(L)
WV: Capito(R) vs.Raese(R) vs.Tennant(D) vs.McGeehan(R)
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Page last updated: Apr 12, 2014