The president was very clear. “Social Security has nothing to do with the deficit,” he said. “Social Security is totally funded by the payroll tax levied on employer and employee. If you reduce the outgo of Social Security that money would not go into the general fund to reduce the deficit. It would go into the Social Security trust fund. So, Social Security has nothing to do with balancing a budget or erasing or lowering the deficit.” The date was Oct. 7, 1984. The occasion was a presidential debate in Louisville, Ky. The president was Ronald Reagan.
“I don't often agree with Ronald Reagan, but he is absolutely right,” Sanders said in a Senate floor speech quoting the 40th president. Sanders argued that Social Security should be off the table in negotiations over how to cut deficits. “Yes, we have got to go forward with deficit reduction. But, no, we cannot and must not do it on the backs of the elderly, the children, the sick and the poor. There are ways to do it that are fair, which ask those people who are doing phenomenally well to start paying their fair share of taxes. And that is the position that the Senate should take.”