The Case for Expanding Social Security

Democratic Rep. John Larson believes Social Security has fallen behind the times.

Photo illustration: Soohee Cho for The Intercept, Getty Images

The proposed Social Security 2100 Act would bolster the nearly century-old social insurance program through additions like caregiver credits and increased minimum benefits. Rep. John Larson, D-Conn., the architect of the plan, joins The Intercept’s Ryan Grim and Jon Schwarz to discuss why he thinks an expansion of Social Security is overdue.

[Intro theme music.]

Jon Schwarz: We are big Social Security partisans, and love to talk about it in depth. So get ready.

Rep. John Larson: I’m ready. I’m a big partisan Social Security advocate myself. [Laughs.]

Newscaster: We could be one step closer to better Social Security after lawmakers unveiled what they’re calling Social Security 2100.

Ryan Grim: We are hostile opponents of elderly poverty.

JL: Exactly.

RG: That’s a very controversial position, apparently.

Newscaster: Chairman of the Social Security Subcommittee, Connecticut Congressman John Larson says that’s why he’s introduced the Social Security 2100 Act to increase payments to older Americans.

RG: So I’m joined here by two Johns — Congressman John Larson, who represents Hartford, Connecticut and areas around that. Does that about accurately describe your district?

JL: It is. It’s Hartford and the 27 towns around it.

RG: And also joined by Jon Schwarz, my colleague at The Intercept, and we’re talking about Social Security.

And I wanted to start with a story that I actually wrote about with Arthur Delaney about 10 years ago in an article back at the Huffington Post. And he had dug out of the Historical Society of Washington’s archives, this fascinating but very revealing story about the way that elderly poverty existed pre-Social Security.

And so it starts in the winter of 1896-1897, an employee of a charity called Associated Charities was walking through Washington and he came across an elderly Black woman — she’s only known as aunt Winnie in in the archives — and he writes in his report, she “could not give street and number, but could ‘fotch’ the agent to her place. Old age, with a heavy load on top and a strong wind blowing, made the walk a trying one. At last the 8×10 cabin was reached. In it was a stove in many pieces held together with wire, a bedstead with rags for mattress and rags for covering. From the leaky roof the floor was wet through and through.”

But the story doesn’t stop there. So it talks about how her only income was as a washerwoman, she would make 50 cents every two weeks taking in laundry, and then she raised the garden in the summertime, but in the winter, it says she “suffered for food and fuel.” Her children had all been sold away to slavery, even though this is the 1890s. she was born into slavery.

JL: Wow.

RG: And so she didn’t have family to help her out. There was a nearby niece, but she was too poor to offer much support. Neighbors helped her get through and a “colored, friendly visitor was found to carry broth and other comforts to her.” So this is how she survived, as the agent then writes. In the fall of 1898, an agent asked her to go into the almshouse, which is another name for a poorhouse, but she would not consent.

“During the storm in February ’99, she was kept from perishing with a great effort. Every visit, and they were many, had to be made through snow up to the waist. It was during these visits that the promise was made that before another winter she would take refuge in an almshouse.”

But then when the spring came, and when he backed off, she refused to go to the poorhouse — so the social worker at that point started playing hardball. He said: “It would be hard to say which, the agent or the applicant, suffered the more, because through all this distress had sprung up a loving confidence and perfect trust that seemed cruel to deceive. Attention and assistance were withdrawn gradually.”

And so, you know, effectively, he’s further immiserating her to try to talk her into going to this poorhouse. And finally, in July of 1899, she agrees, and she says that she’ll sell her cabin and go into a poorhouse. Nobody would buy the [cabin]. So the social worker suggested that she tear it down and just sell it for kindling. And then it says at 2 p.m. on August 23, 1899, the social worker showed up in a wagon: “[S]he was sitting on her trunk, without a stick of the cabin to be seen. Without a murmur she dropped a courtsey to the bare spot where once stood the cabin and turned away.”

And what’s stuck with me all these years about that story is not just the horrific poverty that she was living through, and the struggle of her life, but how much she wanted to cling to her place, her freedom — it may have been a rag-covered mattress and it may have been a stove that was stitched together —

JL: It was home.

RG: — by wire, but it was home. It was hers. She didn’t want to go to the poorhouse.

And poorhouses more or less do not exist anymore. And so this is the second thing I want to read to you, Congressman. Your colleague, Rep. John Dingell, I interviewed him for this story.

JL: Oh wow.

RG: And his father stood behind FDR when he signed the Social Security Act into law. And he said: This is one of the things of which my dad was very proud. It closed 1,100 old folks homes in New York — 1,100. And that was just one example, but it tells you what it did all over the country, Dingell told me.

And he said, before Social Security, what he remembered was that, “everybody and his second cousin piled in with their families. I had relatives that came to stay with my dad and mom I didn’t even know were relatives. To tell you the truth, I’m not sure they are. And my grandad on Dad’s side, who threw Dad out of the house, came to live with Dad. Dad was the only one of his kids who’d take care of him. He was, quite frankly, the only one who could afford to do so, because Pop was making a fairly decent living during the war, but he was supporting a whole tribe of Dingells and Selmerses and a whole bunch of others who had other Polish names but were related.”

And so those were the two ways that the elderly survived: they either were pushed into a poorhouse, or they piled in with family who was, on the one hand, happy to help as much as they could, but on the other hand, makes for an awfully difficult living situation.

So, we all have stories in our lives about Social Security. And, Congressman, I’m curious what your connection to the program has been?

JL: Well, first and foremost, what a compelling story about Winnie. And I think also there, and what struck me as you were speaking, is the enormous pride that people had and you know, as you pointed out, be it ever so humble, there was no place like her home — making it on our own. And I think this is important to the concept of Social Security, often referred to by our erstwhile colleagues on the other side as an entitlement.

The brilliance of Roosevelt was that this is not an entitlement. This is not being forced to go into an almshouse. This is your contribution. And I tell seniors and everyone everywhere I go: Look, and you know, this is true? Just look at your pay stub. It says, FICA — Federal Insurance Contribution. Whose? Yours.

This is not an entitlement. It is the most efficient insurance plan — and I live in an insurance capital of the world — the most efficient insurance program in the world is Social Security. It has a 99 percent loss ratio. Any insurance company would die to have a loss ratio of 99 percent, meaning the cost to run Social Security, and government officials don’t get enough credit for this, is 1 percent. It is the most economical, the most efficient government program, and as you pointed out at the outset of the show, Ryan, it has kept seniors out of poverty. It has also kept children out of poverty. And veterans rely more on it — especially disabled veterans — than they do on the VA.

And it all comes down to responsibility and accountability. You mentioned Social Security stories. The chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, which has cognizance over this, is Rep. Rich Neal. Rep. Rich Neal lost his mother, his father, his grandmother, who was then bringing his family up on Social Security, and then his grandmother passed. Both Rep. Tom Reed and Rep. Tom Rice — on the committee — also lost a parent, and were raised on Social Security.

We have 5 million fellow Americans who live and receive checks below the poverty level, so a people who have paid into a system all their lives, but for the negligence of Congress, receive a below poverty-level check from the wealthiest nation in the world, at a time in our history, where the wealth differential is the greatest it’s ever been.

And this is something that Joe Biden cannot do with an executive order, nor that the Supreme Court is going to take up anytime soon. This is the responsibility of the United States Congress. Congress has kicked the can down the road too many times. The last president to do something with Congress with this was Ronald Reagan. But what they did is they made Social Security more solvent. But what they did was put in place a series of cuts.

Now, I say a series of cuts. What do I mean by that? They raised the age. And they use this very simplistically saying: Well, people are living longer, so therefore we should raise the age. For every year you raise the age, it’s a 7 percent cut in benefits, the last of which just went into effect this January, from a bill that was passed in 1983.

So 39 years ago, we’re still seeing the effects, even though it improved the solvency of Social Security, not a single benefit was enhanced. And by raising the age, your benefit was cut by 7 percent.

JS: Congressman, you are the chair of the Social Security Subcommittee on Ways and Means.

JL: Yep.

JS: I assume that that did not happen by accident.

JL: [Laughs.]

JS: And this is something that you’re personally wanting to do, something you personally care about. And I think for most people, they understand politics through stories. And I’m wondering if there are any stories from your life about how Social Security has touched your family, or simply what you’ve encountered in your political career, like things that you really remember.

JL: Growing up in a blue collar, industrial town, you get to see firsthand what poverty is about, and also how people struggle, and why programs like Social Security are so vitally important. It’s, in so many cases, and for so many Americans, the only retirement that they have.

And in the case of millennials, as we project out into the future, a generation of people who are earning less money than their parents did, are not in a position to buy a house or accumulate assets the way their parents were, and are saddled with enormous college debt, and are wondering: Will Social Security be there for us? And I always say: Yes, it will.

A few things have changed over the last 50 years in terms of the cost of living, and adjustments that people have had to make. But, clearly, Social Security has not kept pace with that.

RG: And you have more than 200 co-sponsors on your bill, is that right?

JL: Mhmm.

RG: How close are you to 218?

JL: We’re at 206 right now. So but if I do the math right on that, that’s 12 people away.

RG: And so your bill has also changed recently. A previous bill of yours had basically permanently expanded Social Security payments, so that everybody was getting, I guess you can describe how it worked progressively for the richest recipients.

JL: Right.

RG: But everybody in, particularly at the lower end to the middle end we’re getting an expansion, and it was going to be permanent.

But now President Biden campaigned on what has been become popular among Democrats, which is to say, there will be no tax increases on anybody making more than x, and the x for Biden was $400,000, which sounds nice, but it also does crimp the ability to fund a universal project like this in perpetuity.

So now, as I understand it, your new proposal extends it for five years. And then you would come back to the drawing board after that?

JL: Well, you wouldn’t have to go back to the drawing board, what it would do, and I think, rightfully so, it would put pressure on Congress to act, and it would also make all the recipients and all the benefactors, the 65 million people who will benefit from this, aware that something has been done with regard to social security. And why it’s so strongly opposed by Republicans has been because once that benefit is implemented, it would be extraordinarily hard to take off. And again, the emphasis here would be on Congress’s responsibility to vote.

President Biden, when he campaigned, and I thought he used the very telling term when he said Social Security is “a sacred trust.” That’s what the American people believe. And he articulated that. And he also then further added that he had other ideas that he wanted to see included in his proposal, including the repeal of WEP and GPO, which are governmental programs that prevented states and municipalities that had special pension plans from getting Social Security benefits.

Bottom line is this: In so many areas, it’s unfair. But it’s great that this has all now come together with the president, saying, as you point out, however, limited the constraint of lifting the cap on people over $400,000. And even though you’re right, progressively, they will still receive a benefit, but far less of a benefit than someone under $50,000.

You know, there’s some 120-plus groups from the Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare, Social Security Works, the NAACP, the National Organization of Women, the American Federation of Teachers — you get the picture and the drift here — they all emphasize one thing: Well, if we’re limited in terms of what the president will sign into law, we would like to see the benefit enhancement, which has not been done in 50 years, and everybody has been falling behind, including fixing the COLA, so that actually reflects the real costs that seniors experience — a 2 percent across the board increase for everybody, but again, progressively designed, so people at the top end receive far less than people at the lower end of the spectrum, a tax cut for people that have to continue to work even when they’re on Social Security. These are the kinds of benefits.

And we’ve reached out to the other side, and people say: Well, how come you don’t have bipartisan support? The bill is bipartisan. The American people, Democrats, Republicans, and independents broadly accept this. The polling data on it is off the charts. And I believe that once the bill is put on the floor, just like back in 1935, very rough going getting the bill out of committee, but once it got to the floor, all of a sudden, there was Republican support for a bill. And why? I can remember Mark Meadows saying to me: That bill makes it to the floor, you’re going to find a lot of Republicans are going to be voting for that bill. Because we know as he did in rural North Carolina that this is their lifeline. This is what they depend on.

RG: Mark Meadows told you that?

JL: Yep. Mark Meadows.

RG: Former Freedom Caucus turned Trump Chief of Staff?

JL: Exactly. Exactly.

RG: And speaking of getting it out of committee, the rumor around the House was that that Pelosi didn’t want to see this come out of committee, but as I’ve reported this out more, it seems more like it’s one of her top lieutenants, Wendell Primus, who’s concerned about it. Do you know what his concerns are with the bill? Do you have any plans for working around that problem? Because he’s not just any staffer, as you know, he’s the guy that people kind of jokingly refer to him as Speaker Wendell.

JL: He’s a very bright and capable person, and he passionately cares about children. And he’s always made the point that we have to make sure that we’re taking care of the children.

My argument is that this does take care of the children. This is the number one anti-poverty program for children as well. And I think you’re correct, in terms of Wendell’s concern, would be that there’s only so much money to go around, and we have only so many expenditures, etc.

I would add that this is an off-budget item that this will not raise, this will not add a single penny to the national debt, number one. And number two, yep, it’s limited in terms of what we would have liked to do in the bill previous, which was to make sure that it was solvent beyond 75 years, and the benefits were all permanent. But this expands the benefits, gives us a solid cornerstone, and it cuts the shortfall of Social Security in half.

Yes, it’s a compromise based on A. making sure we’re getting the benefits where it’s needed. Rep. Pramila Jayapal told me that at the Progressive Caucus, they raised this with Speaker Pelosi. And she said yes, that it’s time that we looked at Social Security. She said: There are bills out there, I’m familiar with Mr. Larson’s bills. And there are bills in the Senate, too. And Bernie Sanders has a good bill. Elizabeth Warren has a bill. The Republicans have, I don’t know if they actually have a bill in the Senate, but they’ve discussed an idea of a study, which, that doesn’t help anyone who’s currently dealing with Covid, and currently concerned about inflation, and is currently living on a fixed income.

[Musical interlude.]

RG: And Schwarz, what jumps out the most to you about this program’s history?

JS: Well, the most interesting thing about Social Security to me is that it is part of what is really like a titanic, centuries-long fight just to make America a place that works for regular people.

JL: That’s a great description.

JS: Yeah, I mean, it’s the truth.

JL: I’m gonna steal that.

JS: Please do. Please make use of it.

And I think that if you look at the Social Security Administration website, one of the interesting things about it is that there’s a pamphlet on there, written by Thomas Paine in 1797, called “Agrarian Justice.” And it is, in essence, about social insurance, which Social Security is an example of. So this is something that people have literally been trying to make happen for 225 years in this country.

And the establishment of Social Security was a huge victory in that fight. And maintaining it and expanding it is another potential gigantic victory. And I think that it’s important for people to understand: This is an exciting story with heroes and with villains, it’s not just something boring about getting a check every month, although that’s extremely important. [Laughs.]

JL: It is. Well, I try to tell people as well, especially my Republican colleagues, a number of Republicans who have campaigned against Social Security ended up being their biggest champions, most notably Dwight David Eisenhower.

And you know the history behind social security. But he knew the history behind the sacrifice that the men and women who served under him in World War II had gone through and what they would need when they came back. And in one of his biographies, it talks about a letter from his brother saying: You’ve changed your view on Social Security. He says: Anyone who’s seen what Americans endure upfront understands that this is an essential program for the American people and essential for our entrepreneurial system of governance, and anyone who doesn’t recognize this is a fool.

And Eisenhower expanded the program; Richard Nixon was the last person to expand the program — a Republican president — and, as we mentioned before, Ronald Reagan, who was virile in his attacks against social security, ultimately, and God rest his soul, primarily because of Bob Dole, said: No, this is a cornerstone that so many Americans depend on and believe in, as a party, we have to make sure that we’re out front in favor of this. And they did pass it. Of course, Tip was the Speaker of the House. But what the compromise was then is they extended the solvency for a long period of time, but they did it through cuts. The program was not enhanced in 1983. And the cuts came by raising the age in steps — the last of which took place this January.

RG: Let’s say you could get it through the House this term. Have you talked to the Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer about whether he thinks that this is worth a fight? I mean, obviously, Social Security is carved out of reconciliation. It’s specifically written in there, interestingly, that you cannot do Social Security changes through reconciliation. I think that it’s because, correct me if I’m wrong, I think Bob Byrd who helped write those reconciliation rules, didn’t want to see it get cut through reconciliation.

JL: Well, you know, you’re absolutely correct and nobody would ever argue about Byrd’s great parliamentary capability. The question remains, though, and as you point out, supposedly it was put in there Social Security and Medicare were put in and excluded from reconciliation to protect them — or, one could also argue, to prevent them from happening when you have a simple majority.

And this raises a whole issue. That’s why I think Social Security is one of the best things that should be front and center because it impacts America. It’s broadly understood, and simple, and they all understand it. And I think when you have a vote like that before you, it places a great deal of responsibility and pressure — it’s why I think Mark Meadows would recognize that in North Carolina, our seniors understand the value and importance of Social Security. And I think certainly Chuck Schumer knows politics as well as anyone. And I think this would be a valuable tool on several fronts.

Number one, first and foremost, because the benefit is needed, it’s broadly understood, and it would impact 65 million Americans. And then when you look at, also, if Black lives really matter, the group that’s impacted the most, who of those 5 million fellow Americans who live in poverty, of the more than 3 million who have paid into a system all their lives and still get a below poverty-level check, who are they? They are the Winnies you were talking about before: it’s primarily women, and specifically women of color, and Black males.

John Lewis said: This is the next civil rights issue. Because of the discrimination, unintended or otherwise, that has existed because of either jobs that people were doing at the time, and the menial nature of those jobs and the lack of a COLA or a wage adjustment by the government as we’re going forward so that people were anchored at the bottom.

So no matter how well the economy was doing, Kennedy’s phrase that a rising tide will lift all boats, couldn’t happen if you’re permanently anchored to the bottom, in poverty.

RG: Speaking of politics, while we’ve got you on, I want to ask you a midterm question.

JL: Sure.

RG: You’re facing a primary challenge for the first time in — when was the last time you had a serious primary challenge?

JL: When I ran for the seat the first time: It was a five-way, highly contested primary.

RG: And it seems like this is a phenomenon that’s hitting districts all over the country, these very credible primary challengers, this was from a young progressive named Muad Hrezi, and he seems to be running a pretty serious campaign, he’s been hitting you over corporate PAC contributions and generally making the argument for generational change. What does the race look like, from your perspective? And what is it like to not have had a challenge for so long? And do you think that people like yourself or others are going to be caught off guard by some of this? Or did AOC coming in a couple years ago, get people who’d been facing comfortable re-elections to say: Oh, I guess I might actually get challenged pretty soon?

JL: Well, there’s a number of good points there.

First and foremost, anyone ought to be able to run for public office at any time, no matter who, what, where, or why. But they also have to demonstrate that they have the credentials and the wherewithal to do that.

And I think if you’re doing your job in your district, and you’re out there meeting your constituency, and working on their behalf — as I said, at the beginning, this job, at the end of the day, is about helping people, and if you’ve got a reputation for helping people. There’s not an awful lot of news about constituent service, and what you do on a daily basis, so I’m very comfortable — we certainly are taking nothing for granted in terms of the race.

And I think that’s the one of the lessons whether you’re talking about Rep. Joe Crowley or Rep. Mike Capuano, two members of Congress that I served with. So you take nothing for granted. But if you’re doing your job, and continuing to represent the people and their concerns, the best remedy for that is to roll up those sleeves, lean in, and I think what it’s done for me is gotten me even a little bit more enthusiastic about making sure that we accomplish those goals and we’re getting that message out.

JS: Like on the one hand, I do truly believe that Social Security is a centuries-long and inspiring saga. But, of course, it is also a matter of very straightforward dollars and cents and people care about that part as well. And I would just like to give you the opportunity to maybe go through the top three, top four aspects of this bill, like what this means in terms of money.

And my understanding from reading the bill is that: Number one, every single Social Security beneficiary would get an extra $30 a month, so an extra $360 a year, which is not nothing. And so what are the things that you see as most important in terms of just those basic dollars and cents issues?

JL: Well, I do think that it’s a basic dollar and cents issue, number one. And I would add that I think what we do is make sure that we address it. When you haven’t had a program adjusted in more than 50 years, then there’s a wide range of improvement. And that improvement starts with a 2 percent across-the-board increase. So, for example, you can have people that were currently making around, at the lower end of the scale, $11,900 in today’s terms. But passage of this bill would mean that they received $15,000. Nobody’s going to get wealthy off of Social Security. People aren’t going out and re-upping their stock options with Social Security. They’re getting basic subsistence.

KS: And one thing I think people would be particularly interested in right now is that one of the most important, most significant aspects of Social Security for people, like in a year like the last one, is that it does have an automatic adjustment for inflation. So prices have gone up last month, January, Social Security benefits went up to match it.

And so it might be interesting for people to know about the bill’s change to the way that adjustment is calculated, because I’m sure you know the nitty gritty, wonky details, I’ll just say that the costs for people who are over 65 are somewhat different than the cost for people who are under 65. And so there may need to be another way to calibrate the inflation adjustment so that people would actually get a higher cost of living adjustment every year.

JL: Yes, you’re absolutely correct. Let me start with the COLA. And for a number of years, the AARP has been suggesting that we ought to have something called CPI-E. CPI, as you know, standing for Consumer Price Index, and E referring to the elderly. By that, what they’ve done is they’ve devised something so that the actual costs that the elderly incur is factored in and not the broader CPI.

Now, here’s the great irony: This year, because of Covid, there was one of the largest increases in COLA in recent memory. So what we did with the legislation is make sure we adopted it to be flexible, and say that it will reflect either of the two, whichever is the greater.

So, in this instance, for example, CPI-E may not have gotten as much money in the wallets of people during this Covid pandemic, but in our legislation, it would be either/or — whichever is the greater amount. But consistently, year-in, year-out, CPI-E and what the AARP has been supporting would be a far better way to go as well.

And as we were saying previously, also, about taking the new floor for Social Security, and saying that the new floor will be developed by the government to reflect 125 percent of the poverty rate. And what that means, quite frankly, is this: For so many Americans who have worked all their lives, more than 3 million, and paid into a system, they receive a below poverty-level check. And under our bill, what would happen is that an individual who gets a yearly benefit now of, let’s say, $11,200 under the current formula, under our bill there would be a 42 percent increase, and they would be making $15,900.

Now nobody’s going to get wealthy on $15,900. But they’re not living in poverty anymore. And that’s an enormous help to all of them, and that’s why we’ve done some of those specific increases, raising the floor to 125 percent of poverty is just common sense and so is a COLA that needs to reflect what everybody is going through.

JS: And I think another particularly important aspect of your bill that caught my eye is that people know, I believe, that their Social Security benefits are based on their income during years where they were participating in the formal workforce. But there are a lot of people who work very, very hard, who are not in the formal workforce, because they are taking care of children.

JL: Exactly.

JS: They’re taking care of their older relatives. And I think anybody who’s ever done that knows that that actually is very real, very hard work.

And so can you tell us a little bit just about what the bill does to address that?

JL: Sure. Well, we provide caregiver credits to ensure that people — again, mostly women — are not penalized in retirement for taking time out of the workforce to care for children and their other dependents.

I mean, again, we feel that this is common sense. This is something that President Biden was arguing for as well, as Rep. Brad Schneider and a number of people on the subcommittee. But what it does is provide earning an earnings credit for up to five years for those who take time out of the workforce to care for a dependent child aged 12, or a dependent relative. The maximum wage credits are up to half the average national wage, which would be $28,300 for 2020, and also making those for those who first become eligible for benefits in 2023, 27.

These are common-sense, practical, straightforward things that need to be addressed. And repealing WEP and GPO — that’s the Windfall Elimination Provision and Government Provision Offset — these are items that penalize people unfairly. And by eliminating them, school teachers, policemen, firefighters, municipal employees are now, and especially their spouses, going to be able to get benefits that they’ve been denied under the current system. It only happens when people start talking it up and focusing on it in this way.

The fierce urgency, as Martin Luther King would say, the fierce urgency of now is staring us right in the face, this Covid pandemic that is only underscored what’s going on in seniors lives, in those very kitchen table discussions that they’re having, wondering if they can make ends meet, wondering what the future holds for them. And wondering whether or not their government is going to step up and do the right thing here and make an adjustment they haven’t done in more than 50 years.

This is blatant congressional neglect, and long overdue. And I’m glad that progressives all across this nation are supporting this. And this is what we’re going to continue to fight for till we get a vote. And we get it passed. And it’s signed into law.

RG: Well, Congressman, thank you for joining us. And before I leave, I was just thinking about our exchange about the insurgent candidate. Are you still taking corporate PAC money? Have you considered joining the group, your colleagues, who have said: You know what, we’re in a new era, I’m not doing this anymore?

JL: You know, for years I’ve lived in a community. And the question has always been raised, even back when I was Senate president in the state of Connecticut: Do you take corporate money? These are the people that I work with and grew up with. Do you take defense contractor money? My father worked at Pratt & Whitney all of his life. My mother worked there during the Second World War.

Yes, I have taken that money. But the thing is, when you take that money, am I signing on to their agenda? No. They’re signing on to my agenda. And I think that that point isn’t made often enough. And you know, I live in an insurance capital of the world, but I’ve always been a supporter of the public option. And these are people, family and friends, etc, that I’ve known all of my life. And I represent them. And we’re limited in terms of what we can take, and I think that’s appropriate.

But if you search my record, I’m sure you’ll find that I have one of the most progressive voting records in the United States Congress. And that’s how I will continue to comport myself. It’s my agenda that people are buying into, and that agenda includes Social Security and its passage.

RG: Congressman, thank you for joining us. Really appreciate it.

JS: Yeah. We’ll be looking forward to seeing what happens with this bill.

JL: Thank you. Thank you guys again.

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