George Graham

Battling Bernie Fights to Beef up Social Security

If Bernie Sanders supports a cause, I probably will, too. The Vermont congressman is one of the few politicians I trust. I believe the guy is in politics for the country’s good, not for his own enrichment.

So when he asked Americans to get behind his bill to lift the Social Security Payroll tax cap, I signed on as a “citizen co-sponsor.”

You might not know how this tax cap thing works. Those of us who have never made more than $106,800 a year – and don’t expect to – don’t need to trouble our heads with such details. If we did we would probably be wondering why people who earn $106,800 or less will pay Social Security taxes on their entire income while those who earn more pay Social Security taxes only on the first $106,800.

I wouldn’t be able to tell you why. I guess rich people don’t need the government to put away as much of their income as we do. I guess they have other ways to fund their retirement – especially as their income from stocks and bonds is taxed at only 15 percent while wages and salaries get taxed  at up to 33 percent. But what do I know about the way rich people think?

Personally, I would feel a lot safer knowing my retirement contributions are invested in government bonds -not in that crazy Wall Street carnival. If ever there was a sucker trap, today’s stock market is it.

So how come the Republicans are all so keen on ending the robustly successful current government program and replacing it with a scheme that would funnel middle-class nest eggs into the Wall Street shell game?

They claim it’s the only way to “save Social Security.” They say – incredibly – that the government program is bankrupt. They say their “children and grandchildren” will never get Social Security payouts because the program will run out of cash. Unless…

Unless you trust the millionaires in Congress to look after your retirement cash for you. They’ve got this win-win thing, see?You give their Wall Street buddies the retirement money the government now collects from your paycheck. The Wall Street carnival barkers take a cut of your profits and you take whatever losses you incur from their “investments.” That’s win-win, all right. For them.

Sanders is not buying that crap.

He knows that Social Security has a vault full of government IOUs. In fact, Social Security is the government’s biggest creditor. Uncle Sam owes American seniors more than he owes China. A lot more.

Click here for debt explanation.

Here’s what Sanders said in yesterday’s Reader Supported News:

Republicans have spent years demonizing Social Security and spreading lies about its sustainability. They want to scare Americans and build support for making drastic cuts to the program or privatizing it entirely. Their long-term goal is to end Social Security as we know it, and convert it into a private account system which will enable Wall Street to make hundreds of billions in profits.

The truth is that, today, according to the Social Security Administration, Social Security has a $2.7 trillion surplus and can pay out every benefit owed to every eligible American for the next 25 years.

Further, because it is funded by the payroll tax and not the US Treasury, Social Security has not contributed one nickel to our deficit.

So how can the Republicans look the public in the eye and lie the way they do? You tell me. They seem to have a talent for that kind of thing.

Sanders wants to make the program even more gilt-edged by lifting the payroll tax cap.

Along with nine co-sponsors, he has introduced the “Keeping Our Social Security Promises Act.”  Sanders explains it  this way:

Right now, someone who earns $106,800 pays the same amount of money into Social Security as billionaires like Bill Gates and Steve Jobs. That is because today, all income above $106,800 is exempt from the Social Security tax. As a result, 94 percent of Americans pay Social Security tax on all of their income, but the wealthiest 6 percent do not.

That makes no sense.

The “Keeping Our Social Security Promises Act” will ensure the long-term solvency of Social Security without cutting benefits, raising the retirement age or raising taxes on the middle class.

What could be more reasonable than that?

Click here for Sanders’ article.

About the author


I am a Jamaican-born writer who has lived and worked in Canada and the United States. I live in Lakeland, Florida with my wife, Sandra, our three cats and two dogs. I like to play golf and enjoy our garden, even though it's a lot of work. Since retiring from newspaper reporting I've written a few books. I also write a monthly column for