Bernie Sanders

Sanders Campaign Press Release - Sanders Calls for Strengthening Social Security, Slams Republican Plans to Dismantle Retirement Program

August 15, 2015

BOONE, Iowa – Eighty years after Social Security was signed into law, U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders on Saturday called for strengthening and expanding the retirement and disability program and slammed Republican White House hopefuls who would dismantle Social Security.

Sanders outlined his legislation during a town hall meeting here at the Boone County Fairgrounds. He also planned to talk about Republican attacks on the program at The Des Moines Register's State Fair Soapbox.

"Social Security is the most successful government program in our nation's history. Through good times and bad, Social Security has paid out every benefit owed to every eligible American," Sanders said. "The most effective way to strengthen Social Security for the future is to make millionaires and billionaires pay the same share as everyone else."

Republican presidential candidates have floated proposals to cut Social Security. Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and Sens. Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, Rand Paul and Lindsey Graham all have suggested raising the retirement age. Proposals to privatize the system have been advanced by many of those candidates and by Ohio Gov. John Kasich and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal.

"It is unacceptable to ask construction workers, truck drivers, nurses and other working-class Americans to work until they are 68 to 70 years old before qualifying for full Social Security benefits," Sanders said.

In Iowa, more than 616,000 people (19.8 percent of the population) received $9 billion in Social Security benefits last year. This includes more than 430,000 seniors, 78,000 people with disabilities and more than 38,000 Iowa children.

Social Security lifted 228,000 Iowans out of poverty in 2013. The average Social Security benefit was just $14,556 in 2014. Without Social Security, 47 percent of the elderly, including more than half of senior women in Iowa, would be living in poverty. With Social Security, the elderly poverty rate for Iowa is just 4.7 percent. For Iowa women it is 8.2 percent.

In Washington, D.C., Sanders introduced legislation on March 12 to expand benefits and strengthen the retirement program for generations to come. Under current law, the amount of income subject to the payroll tax is capped at $118,500. That means someone making millions of dollars a year pays the same amount in payroll taxes as someone making $118,500 a year. Sanders would levy the payroll tax on all income over $250,000. That change would impact the top 1.5 percent of wage earners, according to the Center for Economic Policy Research.

Having the wealthiest Americans contribute their fair share would extend the solvency of Social Security through 2065 and allow benefits to be expanded for millions of Americans. "At a time when over half of the American people have less than $10,000 in savings and senior poverty is increasing, we should not be talking about cutting Social Security benefits. We should be talking about expanding benefits to make sure that every American can retire with dignity," the senator said.

Under the legislation, Social Security benefits would go up by about $65 a month for most recipients. Annual cost-of-living adjustments for Social Security recipients would increase and set a new minimum benefit to significantly reduce the senior poverty rate.

President Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed the Social Security Act on Aug. 14, 1935.

Social Security today has a $2.8 trillion surplus and will be able to pay all promised benefits until 2033, after which it will be able to pay around 75 percent of all promised benefits. Sanders' Social Security Expansion Act would increase revenue and extend the solvency of Social Security for the next 50 years.

To read what Republican candidates say about Social Security, click here.

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Bernie Sanders, Sanders Campaign Press Release - Sanders Calls for Strengthening Social Security, Slams Republican Plans to Dismantle Retirement Program Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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