The most liberal member of the Senate raised the alarm today, the 77th anniversary of Social Security, about whether President Obama would keep his 2008 campaign vow to staunchly defend the entitlement program.
“We are now in the midst of the fiercest and best-financed attack against Social Security in our lifetimes,” Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) warned today. “Hundreds of millions of dollars are now being spent to destroy Social Security and endanger the well-being of millions of Americans. We must not allow that effort to succeed.”
Sanders, the head of the Senate Defending Social Security Caucus, noted that this year Obama has refused to stand behind his four-year-old opposition to cuts, and has indicated he’d be open to changing how benefits are calculated.
“It is long past time that the president told the American people in no uncertain terms, as he did in 2008, that he will not cut Social Security on his watch,” Sanders said.
Sanders introduced legislation – identical to a proposal that Obama advocated in 2008 – to apply the payroll tax on income above $250,000 a year; under current law, only earnings up to $110,100 are taxed. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) is among 10 cosponsors of Sanders’ bill.
The avowed socialist also criticized the GOP ticket for talk of privatizing Social Security and raising the retirement age.
“Before Social Security existed, about half of America’s senior citizens lived in poverty,” Sanders said. “Today, less than 10 percent live in poverty. Since its inception some 77 years ago, through good economic times and bad, Social Security has paid out every penny owed to every eligible beneficiary. This is a remarkable success story.”