WASHINGTON, Feb. 10 – Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), the ranking member of the Senate Budget Committee, said that he would fight Republican attempts to cut Social Security and today issued a report detailing the importance of Social Security and how attempts to cut it are unnecessary.
“Republicans are manufacturing a phony crisis in Social Security in order to cut the earned benefits of millions of the most vulnerable people in this country,” Sanders said. “The American people won’t let them get away with it.”
“At a time when millions of Americans with disabilities and senior citizens are struggling to pay for food, medicine and heat, we should expand, not cut, Social Security,” Sanders added.
National senior organizations representing more than 60 million older Americans –including the AARP, the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare, the Alliance for Retired Americans and others – are opposed to Republican attempts to block a reallocation of Social Security retirement funds into the Social Security disability fund. Such a reallocation has happened 11 times since the 1960’s and was embraced by Presidents Johnson, Ford, Carter, Reagan and Clinton. President Barack Obama recently asked Congress to do it again this year.
But last month, House Republicans passed a rule to make reallocation more difficult and now the Senate may be poised to attempt the same thing, Sanders warned.
This despite the fact that the combined Social Security retirement and disability insurance trust funds have a $2.8 trillion surplus and can pay every benefit owed to every eligible American for the next 18 years.
“If Republicans are serious about extending the solvency of Social Security beyond 2033, I hope they will join me in scrapping the cap that allows multi-millionaires to pay a much smaller percentage of their income into Social Security than the middle class,” Sanders said.
According to the chief actuary of the Social Security Administration, applying the Social Security payroll tax on income above $250,000 would extend the solvency of Social Security until 2060. Sanders is working on legislation to do just that.
The Sanders’ report also explains how the Social Security disability program is affected by trends in the economy and the increase in income inequality. The report also notes that the American disability insurance system is actually less generous and more rigorous than programs in other countries. Finally, the report shows that many Americans rely on the program to buy food and other essentials and offers some anecdotes from people in Vermont and elsewhere.
Tomorrow, Sanders will speak in favor of reallocation to preserve Social Security for nearly 11 million disabled Americans and their children when the GOP-controlled committee convenes a hearing to review the disability program. The report can be found here.