Advocates call on Dem U.S. Senate candidates to support Social Security expansion

TRENTON – A coalition of about a dozen individuals from groups representing tens of thousands of New Jersey families called on all four of the state’s Democratic Senate hopefuls Thursday to publically support Social Security expansion.

Members gathered on the Statehouse steps to demand New Jersey’s next Senate lawmaker state their position on the expansion of Social Security before voters head to the polls in the upcoming primary.

The groups are pushing for a federal expansion plan pending in Congress that would increase payouts to people older than 75 by $450 a year and by $875 annually for individuals older than 85 years old.

“Social Security is more important than ever,” said Adam Green, co-founder of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee.

“Even in the red state of Kentucky, voters support the expansion of Social Security,” he said. “There is no excuse for Democrats right here in the blue state of New Jersey not to.”

Green called out Newark Mayor Cory Booker by name, arguing it’s especially important for the race’s frontrunner to “declare his support” on the issue given Booker’s ties to Wall Street.

“We think Democratic voters across the state are clamoring for (the candidates to support this),” said Bill Holland, executive director of the New Jersey Working Families Alliance.

Both groups claim to represent more than 50,000 residents of the Garden State and say about 7,800 people in New Jersey have joined more than 300,000 people across the country in signing an online petition urging Congress to expand Social Security benefits.

The other Democratic Senate candidates are U.S. Reps. Rush Holt and Frank Pallone and state Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver.

The Republican primary candidates are Steve Lonegan and Dr. Alieta Eck.  The state has not elected a Republican to U.S. Senate since 1972.

"The governor still has to come to bat."
—Atlantic County Executive Dennis Levinson, on Atlantic City.