5 Things Every Smartphone User Should Know

Illustration of a cell phone on a background of clouds. The phone's screen says "Arianna's phone" with a screenshot of her usage hours.

Let’s be honest, the world without smartphones seems like eons ago. Today, we rely on them as the Earth relies on the moon. Our smartphones serve as clocks, alarms, memory collectors, health monitors, children trackers or financial advisors…the list goes on. There are so many things our phones can do for us, in fact, that the possibilities can easily turn into distractions.

Need directions? There’s An App For That™. Need to know where the nearest public restroom is? There’s An App For That™ too. Need to order groceries and have them delivered to your door as soon as you get home? There are several apps for that!

Here are 5 things every smartphone user should know to get the most out of their mobile experience.

(Note: App creators’ views and values are their own and are not endorsed by CREDO Mobile. Before downloading any app, please confirm that it meets your personal standards for corporate ethics and protection of privacy.)

Protect yourself in case of an emergency.

Smartphones offer two really important features that you should set up immediately. The first is the Health App available on the iPhone or Medical ID for Android users. This feature can save your life in an emergency by providing EMTs and health care professionals with vital information about your medical history in the event that you are unconscious or unable to respond to questions.

Additionally, the Bsafe app, available for both iPhone and Android users, makes walking alone a whole lot safer. The app features an SOS button that will immediately alert your family or friends with location and real-time video that automatically begins streaming. The service can be voice activated and includes additional features like Sirene, which creates a loud siren-like alarm to deter attackers with one touch.

Easily record your screen

Sharing phone tips just got a whole lot easier with the iPhone’s ability to record your screen. Simply access the control panel by swiping up from the bottom of your screen (or down from the top right corner if you have the iPhone X). Click on the circle record button, wait for the countdown and begin using your phone. This feature is a huge time saver if you’re like me and people are always asking “How do I customize my control center?”  Once you’re done recording you just swipe down and click stop recording. Then locate the file in your Photos App and send it off!

Android users can download Mobizen form the Google Play Store and perform the same functions.

Hang a picture or measure a space

Unless you’re an interior decorator or architect, chances are you don’t carry a measuring tape or leveler with you wherever you go. Except now you do! Apple’s new Measure App is built into your iOS and uses the augmented reality technology in your device to automatically detect the dimensions of rectangular objects.

And with the leveling feature in the app hanging pictures has never been easier. Simply open the app, choose “level” and use as you would a regular leveler!

For Android users, Bubble Level has the same features.

Let your phone ease you into bedtime

Apple calls this feature Downtime. Under Settings > Screen Time > Downtime. You can customize the app by day and time, then choose what apps will not be available during that time. This will prevent you from falling down a YouTube, Twitter or Instagram rabbit hole right before it’s time for some shut eye.

Google’s version of this is called Wind Down and you can find it under Settings > Digital Well Being.

Salvage a wet phone

Because many of us are attached to our phones – we take them everywhere – and because water covers 71% of the earth’s surface, our phones are bound to meet water at some point or another. So this last tip is here to help give you peace of mind.

We’ve all been here. Rex, the family’s new Chihuahua rescue, is afraid of water and uses the pool to drink rather than swim. But it’s a hot day and out of the corner of your eye, you catch him dip his toe in timidly before taking a gleeful plunge. Your heart swells with pride as you grab your phone and fumble for the camera. The next thing you know, your phones at the bottom of the pool and the screen has gone black. Your phone is dead.

But it might not be! You might actually be able to save it (and that video you just took) by following a few simple steps. (Note: This advice will not always work, so we suggest keeping your phone away from water if possible!)

  1. Do not turn it on. If you have an Android, open the back and pull out the battery. If you have an iPhone, leave it intact.
  2. Fill up a bag with uncooked rice.
  3. Put the phone (and its pieces) into the bag. Seal it. Leave it overnight. If your phone was in the water for longer than a minute, consider leaving for an additional day.
  4. Be patient! Don’t try to turn it on after a few hours or speed up the process by blow drying it, or sticking it in the microwave or oven.
  5. After 24 or 48 hours, put your phone back together. If it turns on, you’re in business.

Be safe, redecorate with ease, save time and reduce your stress levels so you can get back to doing the things you love like scrolling through endlessly entertaining cat videos on YouTube (during appropriate daylight hours).

Stop Trump’s Iran War – Watch Sen Murphy and Win Without War

Dark red background with a dark red earth and the words "Stop Trump's War with Iran"

A crisis in the Middle East is escalating. Trump’s National Security Adviser John Bolton is frantically trying to make war with Iran a foregone conclusion. A war with Iran would be devastating, but Congress has the constitutional authority to make – and stop – war.

We were honored to hold a panel discussion about Trump’s dangerous war build-up with Sen. Chris Murphy, Erica Fein of Win Without War and Alex Lawson of Social Security Works to discuss the Trump administration’s march to war with Iran and what both Congress and the public can do to stop it.

If you’d like to join us and urge Congress to pass S.1039 and H.R. 2354, the Prevention of Unconstitutional War with Iran Act of 2019, click here to sign our petition.

Six groups fighting to protect reproductive freedom from Republican attacks

Stand up for abortion rights

Republicans are relentless in trying to control women’s bodies and take away our freedom. We have to continue being relentless in defending it.

In states across the country, including in Alabama, Georgia, Missouri, Ohio, Arkansas, Mississippi and North Dakota, Republican lawmakers are pushing through extreme and unconstitutional bills to strip women’s rights, control their bodies and ban abortions. And Republicans aren’t even hiding their ultimate goal: to overturn Roe v. Wade, the landmark Supreme Court decision that affirmed a woman’s constitutional right to an abortion.

As Republicans feel emboldened with a misogynist in the White House and anti-choice activists on the Supreme Court, our allies and partners on the frontlines who are fighting to protect abortion access, especially for women of color, women living in poverty and LGBTQ people in the reddest of states, now need our support more than ever.

We’d like to highlight six groups fighting in the trenches for abortion access and economic and reproductive freedom. CREDO donated $1,000 to each of these groups, and if you’d like to join us, you can click here to make a donation today.

Access Reproductive Care – Southeast

ARC-Southeast aims to help individuals in the South in accessing safe, compassionate and affordable reproductive care through advocacy and abortion funding.

Mississippi Reproductive Freedom Fund

The Mississippi Reproductive Freedom Fund is an organization led by low-income, working-class women of color and femme volunteers who are dedicated to working toward reproductive justice. The Fund offers financial assistance and practical support to people seeking abortion as well as free emergency contraception and community-based comprehensive sex education.

Planned Parenthood Southeast

Planned Parenthood Southeast provides comprehensive reproductive health care services in settings that preserve and protect the essential privacy and rights of each individual. It also advocates for public policies that guarantee these rights and ensure access to health services and educational programs for all.


SisterSong’s mission is to strengthen and amplify the collective voices of indigenous women and women of color to achieve reproductive justice by eradicating reproductive oppression and securing human rights.

Urge – Unite for Reproductive & Gender Equity

URGE envisions a world where all people have agency over their own bodies and relationships and the power, knowledge, and tools to exercise that agency. URGE builds this vision by engaging young people in creating and leading the way to sexual and reproductive justice for all by providing training, field mobilization and national leadership for a youth-driven agenda.

Yellowhammer Fund

The Yellowhammer Fund provides funding for anyone seeking care at one of Alabama’s three abortion clinics and will help with other barriers to access (travel, lodging, etc.). The Yellowhammer Fund is also committed to collaborations, advocacy and programming that further the goals of reproductive justice.

CREDO Tips: 5 Twitter accounts fighting for peace

Stand up for peaceThis Memorial Day, follow these 5 Twitter accounts fighting for peace

For many of us, Memorial Day weekend has become the unofficial kick-off of the summer season. But Memorial Day was established to remember those who died while serving in the U.S. military.

With Donald Trump ratcheting up the rhetoric and threatening war with Iran, it’s important that we support our allies fighting for peace. That’s why today we’d like to recognize five groups working for a more peaceful world and urge you to learn more about them and follow their work on Twitter.

Amnesty InternationalAmnesty International logo

Amnesty International is a global grassroots movement and one of the world’s foremost defenders of human rights. With millions of activists worldwide, the organization works tirelessly toward the fair treatment for people everywhere. Amnesty International has helped to free tens of thousands of people from unjust imprisonment for exercising their human rights.

Since 1986, CREDO members have donated $1,294,273 to Amnesty International.

Follow @amnesty on Twitter

Human Rights Watch LogoHuman Rights Watch

Human Rights Watch, which investigates and reports on human rights abuses all around the globe, is comprised of lawyers, country experts and journalists from across the globe working to expose human rights abuses, report the stories of vulnerable communities and hold governments, armed groups and businesses accountable to ensure they change or enforce existing laws and policies.

Since 1995, CREDO members have donated $831,288 to Human Rights Watch.

Follow @hrw on Twitter

International Rescue LogoInternational Rescue Committee

The International Rescue Committee’s mission is to “help people whose lives and livelihoods are shattered by conflict and disaster to survive, recover, and gain control of their future.” The organization responds within 72 hours to some of the world’s worst humanitarian crises by delivering aid that saves lives and helping pave the way for long-term recovery. In all of its work, it focuses on breaking down barriers faced by women and girls.

Since 2015, CREDO members have donated $83,599 to the International Rescue Committee.

Follow @theIRC on Twitter

Win without war logoWin Without War

Born out of the movement against Iraq War, Win Without War has for more than a decade helped lead the effort to promote peace and a more-progressive national security strategy. WWW knows our progressive values don’t stop at our borders, and the organization unites people-powered campaigns and advocacy with a national partner network to reject violence-first U.S. foreign policies and build a more peaceful and just world.

Since 2017, CREDO members have donated $108,633 to Win Without War.

Follow @WinWithoutWar on Twitter

Mercy Corps logoMercy Corps

Mercy Corps is a leading global organization powered by the belief that a better world is possible. It empowers people in over 40 countries to recover from crisis, build better lives and transform their communities for good. The organization has provided $4 billion in lifesaving assistance to over 220 million people just in the last 39 years.

Since 1999, CREDO members have donated $321,732 to Mercy Corps.

Follow @mercycorps on Twitter


CREDO Tip: 15 ways to save energy and money this summer

Illustration of plants and books on shelf with thermostat on the wall

People were cooler in the ’80s. Literally. The last time the global monthly temperature was below average was February 1985. Which means that if you were born after that date, you have not enjoyed a cooler-than-average month in your entire life.

Climate change is the most urgent existential problem facing our planet. That’s why we mobilize our millions of CREDO members to take action on climate justice issues and support groups like 350.org, Rainforest Action Network, and Earthjustice through our CREDO donations program.

Of course, we also try to do our part at home by conserving energy where we can to shrink our carbon footprint. As an added benefit, when we reduce our energy use, we can also save money on our energy bills.

Here are 15 suggestions for saving energy and money this summer.

Use a programmable or smart thermostat.

Programmable and smart thermostats can help regulate energy use by offering pre-programmable settings depending on the time of day. The goal is to realize energy and cost savings without sacrificing comfort. You program in the desired temperature depending on the time of day. Some smart thermostats can also “learn” your heating and cooling habits and adjust the temperature in your home. Here’s a guide on how to use programmable thermostats properly.  

Close your curtains.

Shut your curtains or blinds to keep out the heat during the day. Doing this can cut home heat gain by 45%, according to the Department of Energy. Curtains are not as effective as blinds, but even a medium-color curtain with white plastic on the back can cut heat gain by 33%.

Set your AC higher.

If you use air conditioning, set it at the highest temperature you can tolerate comfortably. You’ll save 10% a year on your cooling bill by setting your thermostat 10 to 15 degrees higher for eight hours each day.

Also: AC will not cool a space faster if you crank it to the maximum when you get home. Dialing the thermostat down to 60 won’t get you to 70 any quicker. You’ll just waste extra energy and money.

Get a fan.

If you don’t have a ceiling fan at home, a floor fan will also do a great job of keeping you cool. If you use air conditioning, a good fan will allow you to raise your thermostat 4 degrees with no reduction in comfort, according to Energy.gov, though your personal results may vary.

Make a personal AC.

Put a bowl of ice in front of an electric fan. The fan will blow the cold air in your direction and keep you cool. This uses a lot less energy than air conditioning. And it really is a thing, we didn’t make it up! It actually does work, if only for a short while.

Close doors and vents.

Don’t waste energy cooling rooms you don’t spend time in. Close the doors to these rooms and shut the vents that supply them.

Check seals on windows and doors.

Make sure the seals around your windows and doors are in good shape and provide an air-proof seal. Check the weather stripping and the caulking around the doors and windows, the glazing (the substance that holds the panes of glass in place) and the threshold under each door. If any of these are damaged or are not tight, have them repaired.

Plant trees.

If you have a house, plant more trees, shrubs, and bushes around the edges. They not only provide shade, but they also cool the air before it penetrates your walls and windows.

Line dry your clothes.

Clotheslines are making a comeback. And summer, of course, is the best time for line drying. The sun is available and you’ll keep radiant heat from the dryer out of your home.

Also: Air dry your dishes if you have a dishwasher.

Turn off bathroom and kitchen fans.

To keep your bathroom and kitchen ventilation fans from pushing cooled air out of your house, you’ll want to turn them off about 10 minutes after their job is done.

Wash in cold water.

A whopping 90% of the power consumed by your washing machine is used to heat the water for warm-water washing, according to Energy Star. Switch to the cold-water setting and you’ll save energy. But look for a cold-water detergent next time you’re shopping. They actually are formulated to work better in cold water, and the claim is not just marketing.

Turn down your water heater.

Water heating accounts for 15% to 25% of energy consumption in the average home, says the Department of Energy. Turning down the temperature 10 degrees Fahrenheit on your hot water heater saves 3% to 5% on energy costs, so a drop from 140 degrees Fahrenheit to 120 degrees Fahrenheit saves you 6% to 10%.

Use solar lighting outdoors.

Outdoor solar lights have improved markedly from the dim, short-lived lights of years past. Bright LEDs have replaced conventional bulbs and better photovoltaic cells have boosted efficiency. LEDs create light without generating heat, so they run on far less energy and last longer. The lights are simple to install and virtually maintenance free and provide free light for your yard.

Keep your electronics away from your thermostat.

Electronic devices, be they lamps or laptops, generate heat. If you place one of these near your thermostat, it registers the temperature of the room as hotter than it actually is. Consider clearing electronics away from your thermostat. And since all electronics generate heat, make sure you turn them off when not in use. Even better, unplug them!

Clear debris around your air conditioner.

Check the outside area around your air conditioner and make sure it is clear of any debris. Maintaining clean and clear vents ensures the best possible ventilation.

Finally, remember to check out CREDO Energy, the new progressive power in renewables. Sign up and you’ll help the environment by offsetting your home’s carbon footprint with clean, renewable energy credits.

Rep. Pramila Jayapal Discusses Medicare for All

Image of Rep Jayapal in Medicare for All panel

New Video: Medicare for All discussion with progressive champion Rep. Pramila Jayapal

Our health care system is broken. Tens of millions of people in our country remain uninsured or underinsured, and millions more can’t afford coverage. Many people are one illness away from bankruptcy. Health outcomes in the United States continue to be among the lowest of all developed nations, yet we spend the most on health care – all the while insurance companies, hospitals, and pharmaceutical companies rake in billions each year.

Progressives in Congress have a popular, common sense solution to fix our broken system: Medicare for All. I was honored to host a great panel with one our biggest champions for Medicare for All in the House of Representatives, Rep. Pramila Jayapal, along with Alex Lawson of Social Security Works, where we discussed why profit has no place in our health care system and why Medicare for All is the best plan to ensure all people have health care.

Rep. Jayapal recently introduced an incredibly detailed, 125+ page Medicare for All bill to ensure all people receive health care under the Medicare program. Under her Medicare for All plan, if you’re sick, you get to see a doctor. There are no co-pays, premiums or deductibles. You get to keep your doctor, and there are no issues with certain providers being “out of network.” Additionally, her plan covers long-term care for the first time in any universal health care legislation.

Right now, predatory insurance companies and Big Pharma stand between people and their doctors and use monopoly power to rob us blind. Medicare for All would replace the for-profit leeches that drive up costs without making us any healthier. Medicare for All would result in more health care coverage and better outcomes while reducing overall U.S. medical costs. Medicare for All would also improve the program for today’s seniors by including younger people and adding dental and hearing coverage into Medicare.

During the discussion, Rep. Jayapal explains that the crowdfunding site GoFundMe is, unfortunately, one of the fastest-growing health “insurance” programs available. Hundreds, if not thousands, of people have set up fundraising pages on the site to solicit donations just to afford insulin. Here’s the exchange:

Support for Medicare for All is rapidly growing, yet it still faces opposition by Republicans in Congress and a well-funded health industry lobby. But we know Medicare for All is a winning issue. The 2018 midterms revealed that voters in red states demanded the expansions of Medicaid that Republicans once blocked. Republican members of Congress were punished for trying to repeal the Affordable Care Act. And a new wave of Democrats was swept into office while openly declaring their support for Medicare for All.

CREDO is building grassroots support for Medicare for All, and we need your help. Please join us and sign our petition today demanding that Congress break the stranglehold of insurance companies and Big Pharma by passing bold Medicare for All legislation. Click here to add your name today.


If Brown v. Board is Not Sacred, What is?

Image of Supreme Court building

Since the Supreme Court’s momentous decision in Brown v. Board of Education 65 years ago, there has been universal consensus within the legal community that the opinion striking down de jure segregation in our schools was correctly decided. As the most important civil rights ruling in our nation’s history, it has been undebatable, affirmed time and again by judicial nominees, attorneys, scholars, and politicians on both sides of the aisle. That is, until the Trump Administration.

During his recent confirmation hearing to serve as Deputy Attorney General, Jeffrey Rosen refused to state that the Court’s unanimous opinion was rightfully decided. “I don’t think that it would be a productive exercise for me to go through the most – thousands of Supreme Court opinions and say which ones are right and which ones are wrong,” Rosen told Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn). This answer is astounding for countless reasons, but chief among them is that it ignores that Brown is not just any Supreme Court precedent. It ended legal apartheid in this country, it redefined what equality means in the eyes of the law, and it touched the lives of every single American in the process.

With his disturbing answer, Rosen joined a growing chorus of Trump’s judicial nominees – starting with Wendy Vitter – who have demurred on this question. Roughly 30 nominees for the federal court have failed to unequivocally support the decision in Brown, with their responses ranging from, “I don’t think it is appropriate to comment on whether a Supreme Court case was correctly decided,” to “Brown v. Board was a landmark decision, but I cannot say if any Supreme Court decision was rightly decided.” Neither response is acceptable. Brown, like Marbury v. Madison, is an essential part of this country’s legal canon.

The refusal to acknowledge Brown serves as a dog whistle. It’s a signal of a candidate’s amenability to reassessing key tenets of our democracy. It is dangerous that judicial nominees for lifetime appointments to our federal courts would be unwilling to acknowledge and affirm Brown.

Rosen is not a judicial nominee. He would serve in the second-highest position at the Justice Department and if confirmed, his job will be to enforce the law, including Brown. The Deputy Attorney General is tasked with the day-to-day management of the department, including overseeing the Solicitor General’s Office and the Civil Rights Division. How can we trust Rosen to enforce our nation’s civil rights statutes if he is unwilling to affirm the bedrock opinion upon which they are based?

At his hearing, Rosen said, “I have views about lots of Supreme Court cases, but I’m not being nominated for this position to be the Solicitor General.” If Rosen is willing to concede that the Solicitor General’s view on Brown would be relevant, shouldn’t the views of the person to whom the Solicitor General reports also be germane?

Ultimately, it’s irrelevant whether Rosen is being considered for a position as a line attorney or in the highest echelons of Justice Department leadership. The rule of law remains a crucial pillar of our society, now and always. If he cannot affirm this landmark decision, he has no business serving in any role at the department or anywhere else in the federal government.

Chief Justice Earl Warren wrote in the Brown opinion that, “in the field of public education, the doctrine of ‘separate but equal’ has no place.” Sixty-five years later, it should be axiomatic that the doctrine of “separate but equal” has no place in any field.

Lisa Cylar Barrett is the Director of Policy at the NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund, Inc.Lisa Cylar Barrett is the Director of Policy at the NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund, Inc. The NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund is the country’s foremost civil rights law organization, working to achieve racial justice, equality, and an inclusive society. The organization is a close ally of CREDO, and CREDO members have donated $206,428 to help fund their important work.


10 Million Petition Signatures in Support of Impeachment. Here’s What’s Next.

Heidi Hess at Trump Impeachment Rally

Last week, I had the honor of representing CREDO members at the U.S. Capitol. I joined progressive champions Reps. Rashida Tlaib and Al Green along with friends from MoveOn, Women’s March, Need to Impeach, Free Speech for People and By the People to deliver 10 million petition signatures demanding that congressional Democrats start an impeachment investigation against Donald Trump.

Our petition delivery in front of the Capitol made national news, with major media outlets including CNN, CBS, NBC and Newsweek reporting on the momentum behind impeachment. Here is Rep. Tlaib’s impassioned speech demanding that Democrats immediately hold Trump accountable:

Hundreds of thousands of CREDO members like you are part of a movement of millions of people committed to using their power to defend our families, communities, and democracy. We have the momentum, and we need to keep the pressure on House Democratic leaders now.

Speaker Pelosi recently indicated that she’s doubtful  Trump will accept the 2020 presidential election results and said that Trump has created a constitutional crisis. She and House Judiciary Chair Jerry Nadler are two of the most powerful elected Democrats in the country, but instead of using their power, they are asking us to wait. Can you help flood their offices with calls to show them their constituents and millions across the country will have their back if they lead on impeachment now? Click here to make a call.

Every day that Democrats wait to hold this administration accountable is a day too long. Let’s not forget that Trump is:

  • Terrorizing our families, neighbors, and friends;
  • Separating and indefinitely detaining families;
  • Closing our borders to refugees;
  • Building a fascist deportation force to criminalize immigrants and target people of color;
  • Banning Muslims from entering our country and inciting violence against an entire religion;
  • Trying to erase transgender people.

We gave Speaker Pelosi and Democrats in the House of Representatives 10 million reasons to stop playing politics and stand on the right side of history. We know that our message is getting through, so it’s important to keep the pressure on. Can you call today to remind them they have a constitutional obligation and moral imperative to use their power and lead?

Thank you for your activism and all you do to hold Trump accountable.

CREDO Tip: 3 Eco-friendly ways to dispose of old electronics

Recycle symbol made from electronic image
We love our electronic devices – until we have to get rid of them. Then we’re not really sure what to do with them. How do you throw away your old devices? The simple answer is you don’t.

You may be surprised that many of the materials used in making these products can actually be recovered and reused.

Here are three Earth-friendly ways to dispose of old electronics and reduce your e-waste footprint.


Recycle old electronics

A good way to find places to recycle your e-waste is simply to do a Google search for “e-waste recycling near me.” Here in the San Francisco Bay Area where I live, that exact search resulted in several “10 Best e-Waste Recycling Center” articles to peruse.

Many nonprofits and local communities offer recycling options. One option is Call2Recycle which offers drop-off locations for rechargeable batteries and mobile devices all over the United States. Most cities sponsor collection days for electronics.

Donate old electronics

If your used gadget still works – or, in many cases, even if it doesn’t – there’s a charity or nonprofit out there that would be happy to have them. Remember to get a receipt so you can deduct your donation on next year’s tax return.  

Here are a few groups you might want to consider:

Dell Reconnect in partnership with Goodwill accepts all brands of computers and other items related to computers such as keyboards, monitors, hard drives and so on. Simply drop off used devices at participating Goodwill locations around the country.

ECO-CELL is the group CREDO Mobile works with to recycle cell phones. When CREDO members recycle their phones through ECO-CELL, it determines the phone’s value and sends CREDO the money. CREDO donates 100% of the money it receives from ECO-CELL to nonprofit groups.

The World Computer Exchange is a global education nonprofit that connects youth in developing countries to digital skills and opportunities. They are in need of working equipment.

eBay for Charity lets you sell your used devices (or anything else, actually) and donate part or all of the proceeds to a charity of your choosing.

Take It to a Tech Firm

Many electronics manufacturers and retailers offer recycling programs. A chart on the EPA’s website lets you search programs by product or company.

Here are just a few of the many programs that allow consumers to recycle old electronics. Check your brand’s or retailer’s company website for details on its program:

  • Apple has a GiveBack program that will accept and recycle any product. It also offers up to $1,000 in gift cards or in-store credit for qualifying products.
  • Best Buy offers recycling options for a wide range of electronics, no matter where you bought them.
  • Staples offers tech trade-ins among other recyclable options.

Enjoy your new devices! Just make sure to responsibly and safely recycle or donate your old ones.

Don’t believe the right-wing spin. Social Security is in strong financial shape.

Woman holding sign at protest that says expand social security

The Social Security Board of Trustees recently released its annual report to Congress. And with the report came the expected headlines predicting doom for our Social Security system.

Thankfully, these headlines couldn’t be further from the truth. Social Security is in strong financial shape. These scary headlines are the product of a decades-long, billionaire-funded campaign to undermine confidence in Social Security.

The Trustees Report shows that Social Security has an accumulated surplus of roughly $2.9 trillion. It further shows that at the end of the century, it will cost just 6.07% of GDP. That is considerably lower, as a percentage of GDP, than what is spent today by Germany, Austria, France, and most other industrialized countries on their retirement, survivors and disability programs.

Unsurprisingly, because Social Security’s income and outgo are projected out so far – three-quarters of a century – the report projects a modest shortfall. This is a much longer valuation period than private pensions use and even than most other countries use for their Social Security programs.

According to the new report, Social Security is 100% funded for the next 16 years, 93% funded for the next 25 years, 87% funded over the next 50 years and 84% funded for the next three-quarters of a century. There is no question that Congress can raise enough revenue to eliminate the projected shortfall. Indeed, we can afford to expand Social Security.

That brings us to the second misreporting we are likely to see. Along with that modest, unsurprising shortfall being the cause for breathless media reports about supposed collapse, the report will be greeted, again if past experience repeats, with lamentations from many observers that Congress has no plan to address Social Security’s projected shortfall. That is incorrect.

Democrats have specific concrete plans that they stand behind. They plan not just to ensure that all promised benefits will be paid in full and on time for the foreseeable future, but to address our nation’s retirement income crisis by increasing Social Security’s modest benefits.

It is only congressional Republicans who have no plans – at least that they are willing to publicly embrace. That is perhaps because (given that they reject requiring even the wealthiest to pay more) their preferred “solutions” involve benefit cuts, which are overwhelmingly opposed by voters across the political spectrum, including Tea Partiers and the most conservative Republicans.

Democrats are moving forward with their plans. The Social Security 2100 Act, introduced by Rep. John Larson, is one such bill. It has 203 co-sponsors in the House of Representatives – over 85% of all Democratic representatives. Rep. Larson has held several hearings on the bill and intends to bring it to the House floor this spring.

Several other bills to protect and expand Social Security benefits have been introduced in the House and Senate, and nearly every 2020 presidential candidate serving in Congress is a member of the bicameral Expand Social Security Caucus.

Again, it is Republican politicians who have no plans that they are willing to stand behind.

Not only has not a single Republican this Congress co-sponsored any of the Social Security bills introduced by Democrats nor introduced one of their own, they appear to be standing in the way.  No one believes that the Senate will act once the House of Representatives passes a bill expanding Social Security and restoring it to long-range actuarial balance.

Notwithstanding that none of the bills have Republican co-sponsors, they are totally bipartisan – at least, by the measure that matters most. As divided as the American people are over many issues, we are not divided about our deep support for Social Security. Support for Social Security expansion and opposition to benefit reductions, cuts across ideological divides. An overwhelming majority of Republican voters, according to poll after poll, support Democratic proposals to expand Social Security.

This March, the Pew Research Center released a poll showing that 68% of those identified as Republican/Lean Republican believe that Congress should make no cuts to Social Security whatsoever. A year ago, in the lead-up to the 2018 midterm elections, Public Policy Polling found that 56% of those who voted for Donald Trump and 55% of those who identify as Republican would be more likely to vote for a candidate who “supported expanding and increasing Social Security.”

Furthermore, a 2014 National Academy of Social Insurance survey found that 80% of Republicans believe that Social Security is more important than ever, 72% of Republicans responded that they “don’t/didn’t mind paying Social Security taxes,” and 65% of Republicans agreed that “we should consider increasing Social Security benefits.”

And this bipartisan, consensus view of the American people is the right one. Social Security is a solution. It is a solution to our looming retirement income crisis, which threatens the retirement of so many of today’s working families. Social Security is a solution to the increasing economic squeeze on middle-class families, a squeeze that jeopardizes the economic security of all generations. And Social Security is a solution to the destabilizing and immoral income and wealth inequality, which has resulted in a handful of Americans richer than Midas, while most Americans find their economic security crumbling. In light of these challenges and Social Security’s important role in addressing them, Democratic leaders – and the American people – are asking the right question: Not how can we afford to expand Social Security, but rather, how can we afford not to expand it?

Republican politicians are standing in the way. For those for whom Social Security provides basic economic security now or promises to do so in the future – that is, virtually all of us – what we must do is clear. In 2020, we must make our voices heard. Those office seekers who support expanding Social Security and restoring it to long-range actuarial balance must be voted into office. Those who don’t should be retired. Fortunately, for them and thanks to the rest of us, they will have their Social Security to fall back on.

Photo of Nancy Altman from Social Security WorksNancy Altman is the president of Social Security Works and chair of the Strengthen Social Security coalition and campaign. She has a forty-year background in the areas of Social Security and private pensions. To learn more about the Social Security Works, please visit www.socialsecurityworks.org.

Social Security Works is a longtime partner of CREDO, and CREDO members have voted to donate more than $504,597 to the organization since 2013. To learn more about who we fund and how we distribute our donations, visit CREDOdonations.com.