Bernie Sanders on Social Security
Democratic primary challenger; Independent VT Senator; previously Representative (VT-At-Large)
Q: Why are your past comments any less relevant than the vice president's?
Sanders: Incremental adjustments are what I advocated. Adjustments that I advocated and have advocated for years, is among other things, increasing the cost of living assistance. No, you're not going to find me ever calling for cuts to Social Security. Right now, we determine COLAs by looking at inflation for the general population rather than segregating the higher costs that seniors are paying for prescription drugs and for healthcare. That's what I was talking about. Joe and others were enamored with the so-called Bowles-Simpson effort, which included cuts to Social Security or raising the retirement age. I said no.
Mayor Pete, as he's often called, said he'd like to increase the cap of income eligible for payroll taxes from what it is now at $132,900 to about $250,000, while speaking at an AARP Forum in Iowa. "I have a very personal stake in making sure that Social Security and Medicare are there when you retire and when I retire, and if you look at the numbers, that won't happen without some adjustments," he said.
Other Democrats have suggested similar strategies. Fellow Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, the independent from Vermont, proposed subjecting anyone with income over $250,000 to the payroll tax, which would create a gap between the current tax cap and the new one. That gap would narrow over time as the cap naturally lifted every year.
Social Security is the most successful government program in our nation's history. Before Social Security was signed into law, nearly half of our senior citizens lived in poverty. Today the elderly poverty rate is 8.8%.
Social Security is not just a retirement program. It is an insurance program that protects millions of Americans who become disabled. Incredibly, the only source of income for about 3 million persons with disabilities is a Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefit that averages just $35 a day. Today, 28.5 percent of disabled Americans are living in poverty. We have got to do a lot better than that.
Prescription drug costs have gone up. Seniors are paying more. We need to change the formula and we've got legislation in to do that, to ascertain what real cost of living is for seniors.
And I am going to fight very hard. You've got millions of seniors trying to get by on $13,000, $14,000 a year making choices between medicine and food. That is criminal. And we've got to change the formula by which COLAs are depended--are created so that seniors get a fair shake.
CLINTON: I fully support Social Security, and will defend it against continuing Republican efforts to privatize it.
Q: Do you want to expand it?
CLINTON: I want to enhance the benefits for the poorest recipients of Social Security.
SANDERS: When the Republicans in the Congress and some Democrats were talking about cutting Social Security and benefits for disabled veterans, for the so-called chained CPI, I q founded a caucus called the Defending Social Security Caucus. When you have millions of seniors in this country trying to get by--and I don't know how they do on $13,000 a year--you don't cut Social Security, you expand it. And the way you expand it is by lifting the cap on taxable incomes so that you do away with the absurdity of a millionaire paying the same amount into the system as somebody making $118,000. You do that, Social Security is solvent until 2061 and you can expand benefits.
The argument being used to cut Social Security is that because we have a significant deficit problem and a $14 trillion national debt, we just can't afford to maintain Social Security benefits. This argument is false. Social Security, because it is funded by the payroll tax, not the US Treasury, has not contributed one nickel to our deficit.
Unfortunately, Congress has been discussing harmful cuts to Social Security as part of an overall scheme to balance the budget on the backs of the elderly, the sick, the children, and working families. That is wrong, it is unconscionable, and it must not happen
I believe that we have got to raise the minimum wage over a period of several years to $15 an hour--not Hillary Clinton's position. I voted against the war in Iraq. Hillary Clinton voted for it.
Health Care as a Right for All:
The United States must join the rest of the industrialized world and recognize that health care is a right of all, and not a privilege. Despite the fact that more than 40 million Americans have no health insurance, we spend almost twice as much per capita on health care as any other nation. We need to establish a Medicare-for-all, single-payer system.
This payroll tax holiday concept originally started with conservative Republicans. These are the same people who either want to make significant cuts in Social Security or else they want to privatize Social Security entirely. Here is the point: They understand that if we divert funding that is supposed to go into the Social Security trust fund, which is what this payroll tax holiday does, that is a lot of money not going into the trust fund.
What the President and others are saying is not to worry because that money will be covered by the general fund. That is a very bad and dangerous precedent. Up until now, what Social Security has been about is 100% funding from payroll contributions, not from the general tax base.
Social Security, in my view, has been the most successful Federal program in perhaps the history of our country. In the last 75 years, whether in good or bad times, Social Security has paid out every nickel owed to every eligible American. Today, Social Security has a $2.6 trillion surplus. Today, Social Security can pay out benefits for the next 29 years. What we must do is make sure we extend it beyond 29 years, for the next 75 years. Well, if we divert $120 billion from the Social Security trust fund and give it to workers today, what you are doing is cutting back the long-term viability of Social Security.
|Using Social Security taxes for private accounts|
|Richard Tarrant||No response|
A: As Vermont’s Congressman I have vigorously opposed President Bush’s efforts to privatize Social Security. Social Security is the most successful anti-poverty program in history. We must strengthen it, not destroy it. Despite the President’s rhetoric, Social Security is NOT going bankrupt. By repealing Bush’s tax cuts for the very rich, and making some minor changes to the funding of the Social Security program, Social Security will be able to pay out every penny owed to every eligible beneficiary for the indefinite future. I oppose privatization plans that would drain money from Social Security and I oppose raising the retirement age or cuts to promised benefits.
Unfortunately, there WERE elements of regressive taxation in that proposal. Clinton increased the amount of taxable Social Security income. That hike affected the upper 13% of Social Security recipients, many of whom live on only $44,000/year. I opposed these aspects of the legislation when it was debated because I have always been a strong proponent of fair taxation.
Proponents recommend voting YES because:
Perhaps the worst example of wasteful spending is when we take the taxes people pay for Social Security and, instead of saving them, we spend them on other things. Even worse than spending Social Security on other things is we do not count it as debt when we talk about the deficit every year. So using the Social Security money is actually a way to hide even more wasteful spending without counting it as debt. This Amendment would change that.
Opponents recommend voting NO because:
This amendment has a fatal flaw. It leaves the door open for private Social Security accounts by providing participants with the option of "pre-funding of at least some portion of future benefits."
RESOLUTION: Recognizing the unique effects that proposals to reform Social Security may have on women.
To reject proposals to partially or completely substitute private saving accounts for the lifelong, guaranteed, inflation-protected insurance benefits provided through Social Security. The Congress finds the following:
The mission of the Alliance for Retired Americans is to ensure social and economic justice and full civil rights for all citizens so that they may enjoy lives of dignity, personal and family fulfillment and security. The Alliance believes that all older and retired persons have a responsibility to strive to create a society that incorporates these goals and rights and that retirement provides them with opportunities to pursue new and expanded activities with their unions, civic organizations and their communities.
The following ratings are based on the votes the organization considered most important; the numbers reflect the percentage of time the representative voted the organization's preferred position.
Some 200 Democratic House and Senate candidates have signed on to a pledge rejecting any effort to privatize or scale back Social Security benefits or raise the retirement age. The Progressive Change Campaign Committee sponsored this pledge among Congressional candidates.
CONCURRENT RESOLUTION expressing the sense of the Congress that the Chained Consumer Price Index (CPI) should not be used to adjust Social Security benefits.
Opponent's argument against bill:(Congressional Testimony by Jeffrey Kling, Congressional Budget Office Associate Director for Economic Analysis, April 18, 2013):
The chained CPI grows more slowly than the trad
Scoring system for 2014: Ranges from 0% (supports privatization and other market-based reforms) to 100% (supports keeping federal control over Trust Fund and Social Security system).
About ARA (from their website, www.RetiredAmericans.org):
The Alliance for Retired Americans is a nationwide organization, founded in May 2001, with now over 4.2 million members working together to make their voices heard in the laws, policies, politics, and institutions that shape our lives. The mission of the Alliance for Retired Americans is to ensure social and economic justice and full civil rights for all citizens so that they may enjoy lives of dignity, personal and family fulfillment and security.
|Other candidates on Social Security:||Bernie Sanders on other issues:|
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