- Sens. Sanders, Warren and other Democrats introduced a bill to extend Social Security solvency through 2096.
- They also proposed expanding benefits by $2,400 a year.
- This comes as Biden has ramped up attacks on the GOP over their past comments suggesting cuts to the program.
Sen. Bernie Sanders wants retirees to have more money — and he wants it to come from higher taxes on the wealthy.
Sanders, alongside Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Reps. Jan Schakowsky and Val Hoyle, introduced legislation to beef up Social Security benefits and keep the program solvent through 2096. Social Security beneficiaries are currently facing down checks being cut as soon as 2035, as the program’s trust fund slowly runs out.
“At a time when nearly half of older Americans have no retirement savings and almost 50 percent of our nation’s seniors are trying to survive on an income of less than $25,000 a year, our job is not to cut Social Security,” Sanders said in a press release. “Our job is to expand Social Security so that every senior in America can retire with the dignity that they deserve and every person with a disability can live with the security they need.”
Social Security’s solvency and newly-larger checks would be offset by raising the cap on earnings taxed for the program. Currently, only up to $160,200 is taxed for Social Security while any income above that limit is free from the tax. Under Sanders’ proposal, that cap would be lifted, and income over $250,000 would be subject to the payroll tax.
It’s not the first time Sanders has taken a swing at beefing up benefits and extending solvency. The progressive from Vermont introduced similar legislation over the summer. But the introduction of this legislation comes as negotiations over raising the debt limit are heating up — and Social Security, along with Medicare, have taken the spotlight. With Republicans holding a slim majority over the House, they have expressed their intent to use raising the limit — and keeping the US on top of paying its bills — as leverage to achieve their own priorities, particularly in the form of spending cuts.
While they have yet to make clear what exactly they are looking at cutting in an eventual debt limit deal, some Republican lawmakers had previously looked to Medicare and Social Security as areas to cut. Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy clarified last month that cuts to both of those programs are "off the table," but Biden and Democratic lawmakers have continued to blast the GOP over their past comments on the issue.
—The White House (@WhiteHouse) February 10, 2023
"As House Republicans try to use a manufactured debt ceiling crisis to cut the Social Security that Americans have earned, I'm working with Senator Sanders to expand Social Security and extend its solvency by making the wealthy pay their fair share, so everyone can retire with dignity," Warren said in a statement alongside the legislation.
When it comes to Social Security's solvency, GOP Sen. Rick Scott unveiled a 12-point plan last year that would require all federal programs, including Social Security and Medicare, to sunset every five years, meaning that Congress would have to repeatedly act to renew the programs.
Scott has been adamant on social media that his plan never proposed cuts to the programs, and he proposed legislation last week that would rescind Internal Revenue Service funding and reallocate it to Medicare and Social Security to "address threats of insolvency."
That has not stopped Biden and the White House from blasting his proposal. During remarks last week in Scott's home state of Florida, Biden even brought pamphlets of Scott's plan and said that "I know that a lot of Republicans, their dream is to cut Social Security and Medicare."
"Well, let me say this," Biden said. "If that's your dream, I'm your nightmare."