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Brian Snyder/Reuters
(Brian Snyder/Reuters)

Here's a chance for some small measure of sanity to be introduced into the Catfood Commission II's work, and the larger debate about deficits and the safety net, if Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) can get enough cosponsors and momentum behind his efforts.
Sanders, one of the Senate’s staunchest liberals, is proposing to make individual income higher than $250,000 per year subject to the payroll tax—an idea he says he is lifting from President Obama’s 2008 campaign for the White House.

As it stands, the payroll tax, which funds Social Security, applies to up to $106,800 of annual income. The Sanders bill would not impose the payroll tax on income between that level and $250,000.

In a Thursday news release, the Vermont senator said he was also worried that the new supercommittee tasked with finding additional ways to reduce the deficit will try to find savings through cuts to Social Security. One method that has already been discussed would involve switching to the so-called "chained CPI," an alternate form of inflation that would lead to a slower increase in Social Security benefits.

"Unfortunately, Republicans in Congress—and too many Democrats—have been discussing harmful cuts to Social Security as part of an overall scheme to balance the budget on the backs of the elderly, the sick, the children and working families," Sanders said.[...]

According to Sanders's office, the chief actuary for Social Security says the senator's proposal to make the payroll tax applicable at higher income levels would create enough new revenue to keep the program solvent for the next 75 years.

Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR) has a similar bill in the House, introduced in February. Neither piece of legislation is likely to see actual action, particularly on the House side, but a strong showing of cosponsors of both bills could, maybe, influence their colleagues on the Super Congress, the Democrats, anyway. If you have a Democratic representative or senator(s), call them and ask them to co-sponsor these bills. If you happen to be represented by a member of the Super Congress (Sens. Patty Murray, Max Baucus, John Kerry and Reps. Jim Clyburn, Chris Van Hollen, Xavier Becerra) give a few extra calls.

At the very least, it's the smartest policy response for ensuring Social Security's future and kudos to Sen. Sanders for attempting to take the discussion beyond austerity.

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Originally posted to Joan McCarter on Thu Aug 25, 2011 at 12:55 PM PDT.

Also republished by Social Security Defenders and Daily Kos.

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