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Sunday, 15 March 2015 00:00

Strengthen, Expand Social Security

Written by Sen. Bernie Sanders
2 million petition signatures from supporters of expanding Social Security 2 million petition signatures from supporters of expanding Social Security

As boxes of petitions signed by 2 million Americans were hauled to the Capitol on Thursday, Sen. Bernie Sanders introduced legislation to expand benefits and strengthen the retirement program for generations to come. The Social Security Expansion Act was filed on the same day Sanders and other senators received the petitions gathered by the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare.

“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 eliminate the cap on the payroll tax on all income above $250,000 so millionaires and billionaires pay the same share as everyone else.”

Sanders’ measure would make the wealthiest Americans pay their fair share.  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 some making $118,500 a year. The legislation would subject all income over $250,000 to the payroll tax.  Doing so would impact only the top 1.5 percent of wage earners, the Center for Economic Policy Research has estimated.

The bill also would subject unearned household income above $250,000 to the same 6.2 percent tax as applies to most earned income. The top 0.1 percent of Americans gets about half of all capital gains income.

Asking the wealthiest Americans to contribute more into Social Security, would not only extend the solvency of Social Security through 2060, it also would allow Social Security benefits to be expanded for millions of Americans.

“At a time when more than 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.

The bill would:

  • Increase Social Security benefits by about $65 a month for most recipients.
  • Increase cost-of-living adjustments for Social Security recipients.
  • Provide a minimum Social Security benefit to significantly reduce the senior poverty rate.

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.  The Social Security Expansion Act would increase revenue and extend the solvency of Social Security for the next 45 years. 

Read the bill 

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