Sanders praises Geithner for decision to keep Social Security off the table in deficit negotiations

Sanders Statement on Social Security

BURLINGTON, Vt., Dec. 2 – U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) issued the following statement today after Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, the White House’s chief deficit negotiator, said Social Security was off the table:

“I applaud the Obama administration. This is good news for more than 55 million Americans who have earned Social Security benefits today and every working American who will receive Social Security benefits in the future. The fact is that Social Security has not contributed a nickel to the national debt so it makes no sense for it to be part of deficit negotiations.

“The American people have been clear that Social Security should not be cut and that the wealthy and large corporations must play a significant role in reducing the deficit.”

Sanders, a member of the Senate Budget Committee, also is the founder of the Defending Social Security Caucus.

Contact: Michael Briggs (202) 228-6492

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  • “The fact is that Social Security has not contributed a nickel to the national debt….”. Thank you Senator for speaking up. Unfortunately, the earlier message from Simpson-Bowles seemed to suggest that Social Security was a huge factor in the debt and a lot of people have bought that.In addition, people like GS CEO Mr. Blankfein tell us that “entitlements” are ruining the country . I look around me and see people struggling to exist from month to month, and then I hear of those like Mr. Blankfein whose level of compensation is almost beyond belief and I ask myself who is it that is contributing more to the downturn and the economic difficulties we are facing.It is difficult for the layman untrained in economics to understand how to balance what appear to be monumental obstacles in the way now, but frankly I think Mr. Blankfein (and others at Wall Street)
    are a greater problem than the average SS recipient. Thank you again for speaking out!

    Joe White

  • walter carpenter

    “Mr. Blankfein (and others at Wall Street)
    are a greater problem than the average SS recipient.”

    I agree. I think that what Mr. Blankfiein really does not like about social security, other than that it helps people other than himself (which is called socialism), is that he’s not getting his cut out of it. People like Blankfein cannot stand that.

  • Ann Raynolds

    Yes. This fact that Social security does not impact the national debt has to be shouted from the roof tops — how did this truth get distorted?
    In addition, however, many of us believe that raising the cap on Social Security, so that those with incomes higher than the present amount — $110,000 I believe — would need to pay the same percentage of their income that I and everyone making less than this amount pay is a sound fiscal policy. And that if that creates in time a surplus, then it could contribute to the Medicare bills for those over 65. Medicare, although there are good ideas for reforming health delivery systems, is an essential health benefit which I doubt has been envisioned to be replaced by the Affordable Care Act.

    • Bruce Post

      I remember when former presidential candidate Steve Forbes was championing a “flat tax” system as a replacement for the federal progressive income tax. Well, the social security tax is a flat tax with one important caveat: the annual Social Security wage base limit. In 2012, it is $110,100. That essentially means that the flat tax rate of 4.2% becomes a “no tax” rate for every qualified wage dollar above $110,100. Maybe Steve Forbes — although I doubt it — can be counted on to advocate applying the Social Security flat tax to every countable dollar earned all the way up to infinity. Now, that’s a flat tax I can support.

      By the way, Bernie, Geithner may have put Social Security off the table today; tomorrow could be a different story.

  • Lance Hagen

    The statement that “that Social Security has not contributed a nickel to the national debt” maybe true but it is only half the story. Social Security is a factor in the national debt.

    See, once upon a time a few years back, Social Security took in more $ then it needed to paid out. It ran a surplus in funds. These surplus $ were loaned to the Treasury dept and the Social Security dept was given an ‘IOU’. Today the Social Security dept brings in fewer $ then it needs to pay out, therefore they need to go to the Treasury dept and ‘cash-in’ some of those ‘IOUs’.

    So now, the Treasury dept needs to come up with these ‘IOU’ $. Their options are to raise revenue (new taxes), borrow it (raises debt) and take funds from existing programs.

    The other option that has been proposed is to limit the Social Security pay out of benefits, by either extending the retirement age or lower (or not increase) $ benefits. In this way they can balance the revenue versus expenditures, without having to go to the Treasury dept. to ‘cash-in’ their ‘IOUs’.

    So it is not that Social Security doesn’t have enough $, if you count their revenue and ‘IOUs’, it just that the guy they let borrow the $, can’t pay it back with raising the debt.

    At the going rate of spending. The government is raising the national debt by $1,200 billion/year. If you look at Bernie Sander’s debt reduction plan (on his web site), it only corrects 52% of the yearly problem. His plan only raises $627 billion/year. And for this $627 billion/year, there are $496 billion/year in new taxes and $131 billion/year in spending and savings cuts.

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