Bernie Sanders

Sanders Campaign Press Release - Sanders Challenges Clinton on Social Security

April 09, 2016

NEW YORK – U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders on Saturday called for raising Social Security benefits to help seniors make ends meet. He also urged Hillary Clinton to back a plan endorsed by leading Democrats and seniors' advocates to strengthen the retirement program.

Sanders' stops at Bronx Community College and at the United Palace in Manhattan's Washington Heights neighborhood were part of a presidential campaign tour of New York City boroughs.

More than 1,000 backers turned out to hear Sanders in Washington Heights and more than 800 supporters in the Bronx packed an auditorium in the Gould Memorial Library and an overflow room at the college.

Sanders said seniors in New York and across the United States don't have enough income to heat their homes or feed themselves and many are forced to cut their pills in half to save money on prescription drugs. "These are the people who built this country – our parents, our grandparents. We should not be treating them that way."

Clinton, Sanders' rival for the Democratic Party nomination, has refused to back Sanders' plan to strengthen Social Security. In fact, Clinton has left open the possibility that she would support raising the retirement age at which seniors become eligible for Social Security. "I would consider it," she told a town meeting in New Hampshire last Oct. 28.

In New York, more than 3.5 million seniors, orphans, widows, widowers and disabled people received Social Security benefits last year. The average annual benefit totaled only $15,000.

Without Social Security, more than 43 percent of the elderly in New York, including more than 48 percent of senior women, would be living in poverty. With Social Security, the elderly poverty rate in New York is 11.6 percent.

Sanders has introduced legislation to make the wealthiest Americans who make more than $250,000 a year pay the same share of their income into the retirement system as everyone else. Current law now caps the amount of income subject to payroll taxes at $118,500.

Under Sanders' plan, a senior making less than $16,000 a year would see income go up by more than $1,300 a year.

The measure also would increase cost-of-living adjustments. This year, for only the third time in four decades, seniors on Social Security did not receive a cost-of-living increase. Sanders' legislation would increase COLAs by more accurately measuring the spending patterns of seniors. Under current law, the consumer price index used to calculate annual benefit adjustments does not accurately reflect how inflation in health care costs and prescription drug prices impact seniors.

The proposal to lift the cap would raise taxes only on the wealthiest 1.5 percent of Americans. Sanders' plan is patterned after a proposal to scrap the cap first brought forward by President Barack Obama in 2008.

According to new estimates from the Social Security Administration, Sanders' plan would extend the solvency of Social Security until the year 2074.

The senator from Vermont who was born and raised in Brooklyn was headed later Saturday to a third rally in Queens before capping the day with a nighttime event at the Apollo Theater in Harlem.

Bernie Sanders, Sanders Campaign Press Release - Sanders Challenges Clinton on Social Security Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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