John Larson used a customer service–style approach to get his fellow Democrats aboard a bill to expand Social Security benefits.
Larson, a 71-year-old Democrat now in his 11th term, might seem to embody the Democratic establishment. He runs the Social Security subcommittee of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee—“low on the totem pole,” he tells me with politically incorrect modesty—and once chaired the House Democratic Caucus.
And yet, Larson may soon accomplish a goal considered impossible just a few short years ago: passing legislation in the House that would expand Social Security for the first time in more than half a century. Larson’s Social Security 2100 Act would raise and stabilize Social Security benefits, add anti-poverty measures, and restore it to actuarial balance for 75 years.
In a recent conversation about his Social Security expansion bill, I asked Larson what would happen if it passes but the Senate doesn’t take it up. Do you think the voters will elect a new Senate that would? He offers a suggestion in response:
“There’s no better way to end your article than that sentence right there: ‘If the Senate chooses not to take it up’—and I say this about climate change, about universal background checks, about Social Security—‘then maybe voters will want senators that will.’”