Sanders Calls for Expanding Social Security Benefits by Taxing the Rich

Friday’s announcement by Senator Bernie Sanders was part of a Senate hearing on next week’s expansion of Social Security. This is in response to Republican false and repeated claims that the popular program is headed towards insolvency.

While a report released Thursday by the Board of Trustees of the Federal Old-Age and Survivors Insurance and Federal Disability Insurance Trust Funds showed that Social Security has a surplus of $2.85 trillion, the independent senator from Vermont said benefits should be increased for retirees — an expansion that could easily be paid for with by raising the cap on payments into SSI by wealthy Americans who contribute at a disproportionately low rate compared to most.

“Our job is to save and expand Social Security by making the wealthiest Americans pay their fair share of taxes,” said Sanders. “In the richest country in the history of the world, no senior should live in poverty and every American should be able to retire in dignity after a lifetime of hard work. This is not a radical idea.”

An estimated 50% of Americans aged 55 and older are living without retirement savings, the Senate Budget Committee reported — a crisis stemming from stagnant wages, widening gap There is a difference between worker and CEO pay. rising Living costs

“We don’t have a Social Security crisis, but we do have a retirement income crisis,” said Social Security Works (SSW) in response to the Board of Trustees report. “With prices rising, seniors and people with disabilities are struggling to afford food and medicine. The solution is to expand Social Security.”

Alex Lawson, executive director, and Nancy Altman, president of SSW, are among the witnesses expected to testify at next Thursday’s hearing before the Budget Committee.

For years, the group has countered Republican propaganda claiming Social Security is too costly or that its benefits go too far. SSW, Sanders and other progressive allies have defended against repeated right-wing attempts at privatizing the safety net program.

A memo by Senator Rick Scott (R.Fla.), was written earlier in the year. included a proposal for Congress to reauthorize Social Security and other anti-poverty programs every five years, a move Sanders said at the time would impose “massive cuts” to much-needed benefits.

According to the Board of Trustees report, Social Security is currently fully funded until 2035 and — even without Congressional action to expand the program — would be able to pay 90% of benefits for the next 25 years.

Eighty-four per cent of benefits and administrative expenses are fully funded for at least the next 50 years, and 80% for the next three quarters of a century.

“Despite Republican claims to the contrary, Social Security is not going broke,” said statement from Sanders’ office as it announced the hearing planned for June 9.

The appropriate answer to any projected shortfall, said SSW, is to “make the wealthy pay their fair share!”

“Protecting and expanding benefits is a question of values, not affordability,” said Lawson. “That this year’s projections are even stronger than last year’s proves once again that Social Security is built to withstand times of crisis, including pandemics.”

“Democrats are united in support of expanding Social Security,” he added. “In contrast, Republicans want to reach into our pockets and steal our money.”

Sanders has introduced legislation to expand the program several times. More than 200 lawmakers have cosponsored legislation in the U.S. House that would increase benefits, improve the cost-of-living adjustment formula due to inflation, and set a minimum benefit at 25% above poverty line to protect seniors from falling into poverty.

SSW on Friday called for “up or down votes on Social Security” in the House and Senate.

“Beneficiaries can be assured” that even without Congressional action, Social Security benefits are not in danger of running out, said Paul N. Van de Water, senior fellow at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

“Nonetheless,” he added, “acting sooner rather than later to improve the programs’ ability to provide the full benefits upon which beneficiaries rely would cool overheated rhetoric and bolster public confidence.”