WASHINGTON, April 23 - A new report today by Social Security trustees showed the program's trust fund has $2.7 trillion in reserves and will grow to $3.06 trillion by 2021, enough to maintain the unbroken record of paying every nickel owed to every beneficiary in full for another two decades.
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) has introduced legislation to strengthen Social Security and guarantee benefits for 75 years by extending the payroll tax that most Americans already pay to those who earn above $250,000 a year.
"The most effective way to strengthen Social Security for the next 75 years is to eliminate the cap on the payroll tax on income above $250,000. Right now, someone who earns $110,100 pays the same amount of money into Social Security as a billionaire. That makes no sense," said Sanders, the chairman of the Defending Social Security Caucus. He also chairs the Senate aging subcommittee.
Under the proposed legislation, the wealthiest Americans would pay the same payroll tax rate already assessed on those with incomes up to $110,100 a year. Social Security officials have calculated that the simple change would keep the retirement program strong for another 75 years. The legislation also follows through on a proposal that President Barack Obama made in 2008 when he was running for president.
The Keeping Our Social Security Promises Act is cosponsored by Sens. Daniel Akaka (D-Hawaii), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), Al Franken (D-Minn.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), Barbara Mikulski, (D-Md.), Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D- R.I.).
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.
"I strongly disagree with some of my colleagues who want to balance the budget by cutting Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and other programs that are of enormous importance to seniors and the working families of our country. There are ways to address the deficit crisis without attacking some of the most vulnerable members of our society. As chairman of the Defending Social Security Caucus, I will do everything in my power to make sure that the promises made to seniors will be kept."
Social Security provides support for 55 million people, including 38 million retired workers, 6 million widows, widowers and orphans, and 11 million disabled workers. The most successful government program in our nation's history has not contributed one dime to the federal deficit.