Bernie Sanders

Statement by Senator Bernie Sanders on Clinton and Social Security

February 05, 2016

MANCHESTER, N.H. – Bernie Sanders on Friday welcomed Hillary Clinton's assertion that she supports expanding Social Security, but pressed her to clarify her new stand.

"We're glad that, for the first time, Secretary Clinton has indicated that she will join me in expanding Social Security benefits," Sanders said. "But we need more clarity," he added.

"Is she prepared to scrap the cap on payroll taxes? Is she prepared to support legislation that I have offered that would both expand Social Security benefits and extend the solvency of Social Security for the next 58 years as a result of lifting the cap on taxable income on people who earn more than $250,000 a year? I hope so but we're still not sure," Sanders said.

Sanders asked Clinton to plainly say that she supports making the wealthy pay their fair share into the retirement program. He also called on her to explicitly oppose cutting benefits by raising the retirement age.

As recently as Oct. 28, Clinton had 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.

Back in April of 2008, Clinton falsely claimed that Obama's plan to scrap the cap would increase taxes on the middle class. "I'm certainly against one of Senator Obama's ideas, which is to lift the cap on the payroll tax, because that would impose additional taxes on people who are educators, police officers, firefighters and the like." ruled that Clinton's claim was false. "Clinton exaggerated when she said that lifting the cap on wages that are subject to the Social Security tax 'would impose additional taxes on people who are, you know, educators here in the Philadelphia area or in the suburbs, police officers, firefighters and the like.' In fact, only individuals earning more than $102,000 a year would be affected, and few cops or teachers earn that much."

In a Friday night tweet, Clinton asserted, "I won't cut Social Security. As always, I'll defend it, I'll expand it." Her statement came hours after Sanders, during a speech in Exeter, New Hampshire, urged Clinton to "join me in saying it is imperative to increase and expand benefits for seniors on Social Security by lifting the cap on taxable income."

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

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

Related Images

Bernie Sanders, Statement by Senator Bernie Sanders on Clinton and Social Security Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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