WASHINGTON, May 15 - Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) addressed Social Security supporters today outside a fiscal summit hosted by Peter G. Peterson, the billionaire foe of Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.
"I find it rather appalling that a Wall Street billionaire, Pete Peterson, a man who has more money than he knows how to spend, is hosting a conference today to call for massive cuts in Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and other government programs that are of enormous importance to the survival and dignity of millions of our fellow citizens - many of whom are struggling daily just to keep their heads above water," Sanders said.
"Billionaires like Mr. Peterson and others should not be using their wealth and power to beat up on some of the most vulnerable people in our country. That is morally grotesque."
Sanders spoke to demonstrators on a sidewalk outside the event where House Speaker John Boehner and House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan were speaking inside.
The House Republicans would raise the Social Security retirement age to 69 or 70; end Medicare as we know it by providing seniors with inadequate coupons to purchase private health insurance; slash Social Security cost-of-living adjustments for senior citizens living on fixed incomes; decimate Medicaid, meals on wheels, education, transportation, affordable housing, and other vital government programs; and provide even more tax breaks to the wealthiest Americans and largest corporations.
Sanders has introduced legislation to strengthen Social Security and guarantee benefits for 75 years by extending the payroll tax that most Americans already pay on income above $250,000 a year.
Since it was signed into law 76 years ago, Social Security has kept millions of senior citizens, widows, widowers, orphans, and the disabled out of poverty. Before Social Security, about half of senior citizens lived in poverty. Today, less than 10 percent do.