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One senator with two different plans to save Social Security

Ben Werschkul
DC Producer
Sen. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

On Tuesday, Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) introduced the Strengthen Social Security by Taxing Dynastic Wealth Act to return the estate tax to 2009 levels to shore up the retirement program.

Van Hollen’s office noted that the bill would be “rolling back the most recent boon for wealthy estates in the 2017 Republican tax law.”

At the same time, the Van Hollen is also behind a House plan championed by Rep. John Larson (D-CT), which would shore up Social Security by increasing the payroll taxes on wages above $400,000 and “gradually phase in an increase in the contribution rate beginning in 2020.” The bill, known as the Social Security 2100 Act is also being backed by Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT).

“Sen. Van Hollen is committed to strengthening Social Security and ensuring all Americans have financial security in their later years,” Bridgett Frey, a spokeswoman for Van Hollen, said in a statement to Yahoo Finance. On the bill unveiled Tuesday, she added “this new legislation would be a down payment on that effort, closing 21% of the current long-range estimated shortfall in the Social Security OASI/DI Trust Fund. Social Security 2100 is a more expansive bill that would completely address the shortfall and expand benefits.”

Both of the bills are aimed at the same larger problem – the Social Security Trust Fund could be depleted in 16 years with no action, according to a recent report by the program’s trustees.

Social Security reform not in focus now

Social Security reform has, so far, gotten little traction during the 116th Congress. Instead, the House of Representatives recently passed the SECURE Act, which is focused on helping people save for retirement in private accounts but doesn’t address Social Security.

Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) speaks while flanked by Rep. John Larson (D-CT) during an event to introduce legislation called the Social Security 2100 Act. which would increase increase benefits and strengthen the fund. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

Larson recently testified at a House Budget Committee hearing and noted that he supports the efforts to reform private accounts, but added: “our greatest responsibility here in Congress is to protect Social Security and ensure that it meets the needs of today’s beneficiaries and future generations.”

Ben Werschkul is a producer for Yahoo Finance in Washington, D.C.

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