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Senator Bernie Sanders has circulated a dear colleague letter in the Senate declaring that Social Security benefit cuts should NOT be a part of any deficit so-called “Grand Bargain” destined to be the focal-point of this fall’s lame duck Congressional session. Sen. Sanders is the founder of the Senate’s Defending Social Security Caucus, and organized this effort with the help of Senators Begich(D-AK), Franken(D-MN) and Whitehouse (D-RI). The letter, signed by 29 Democratic Senators, says:

“Contrary to some claims, Social Security is not the cause of our nation’s deficit problem.  Not only does the program operate independently, but it is prohibited from borrowing.  Social Security must pay all benefits from its own trust fund.  If there are insufficient funds to pay out full benefits, benefits are automatically reduced to the level supported by the program’s own revenues.  Social Security cannot drive up the deficit by tapping general revenues to pay benefits. To be sure, Social Security has its own long-term challenges that will need to be addressed in the decades ahead. But the budget and Social Security are separate, and should be considered separately."
The vast majority of American’s couldn’t agree more.  However, we have to wonder why only 29 signatures on this letter? Where are the others?
So who didn’t sign? Max Baucus, Michael Bennet, Jeff Bingaman, Tom Carper, Bob Casey, Kent Conrad, Chris Coons, Dick Durbin, Dianne Feinstein, Kay Hagan, John Kerry, Amy Klobuchar, Herb Kohl, Mary Landrieu, Joe Lieberman, Claire McCaskill, Ben Nelson, Bill Nelson, Mark Pryor, Jeanne Shaheen, Jon Tester, Mark Udall, Mark Warner, Jim Webb.
A number of these members are retiring so it’s also important to factor in their replacements and where these new Senators stand on cutting Social Security benefits to reduce the deficit.  We recommend you read David Dayen’s breakdown of some of the other missing signees and what it could mean for Social Security.  

Originally posted to NCPSSM on Mon Sep 24, 2012 at 07:31 AM PDT.

Also republished by Social Security Defenders.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Everyone staying in Needs asked.. (0+ / 0-)

    And.. They May do the Grand Bargain in the Lame Duck.. Ask them All, Except Lieberman...

    And Ask All Republicans.. Except Kirk.. Give Him Time..

  •  They are not benefits. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jbob, Sunspots

    The payments are deferred compensation for work.

    Now, if the funds were lent to an enterprise which goes bankrupt, then it might be reasonable to argue that the moneys have been lost. However, since the US prints its own currency, that's not a possibility.  In fact, it is because the money cannot be lost that we give it to our public corporation for safe keeping.
    If the stewards we've hired to manage our resources and our money are not trust-worthy, then they need to be fired. Which is why we have a performance review or judgment day every two years.

    We organize governments to provide benefits and prevent abuse.

    by hannah on Mon Sep 24, 2012 at 07:55:34 AM PDT

  •  Such a pledge would block reducing Benefits (0+ / 0-)

    for the wealthy or even means testing.

    The most important way to protect the environment is not to have more than one child.

    by nextstep on Mon Sep 24, 2012 at 07:57:24 AM PDT

  •  Good on Senator Begich (0+ / 0-)

    It's not easy to stand up for what's right when you represent a state that elected Sarah Palin.

    Male, 22, -4.75/-6.92, born and raised TN-05, now WI-02, remorseless supporter of Walker's recall. Pocan for Congress and Baldwin for Senate!

    by fearlessfred14 on Mon Sep 24, 2012 at 08:04:49 AM PDT

  •  Good for my Senator Sherrod Brown (0+ / 0-)

    The radical Republican party is the party of oppression, fear, loathing and above all more money and power for the people who robbed us.

    by a2nite on Mon Sep 24, 2012 at 08:20:41 AM PDT

  •  SS (0+ / 0-)

    is not broke it's just that the $2.5 trillion surplus has been spent.

    I think SS needs to be managed by a variety of mutual funds and just invested in treasuries, but also very carefully audited.

    This way as benefits come do all that needs to happen is Treasuries get sold.  One can stay on the short end of the curve to avoid principal loss if rates change.

    "And there are those who give and know not pain in giving, nor do they seek joy, nor give with mindfulness of virtue; They give as in yonder valley the myrtle breathes its fragrance into space" Khalil Gibran

    by bcdelta on Mon Sep 24, 2012 at 08:28:04 AM PDT

  •  Both my lady Senators, Maria Cantwell, and Patty (0+ / 0-)

    Murray have signed on. Way to go Senators. Thank you!!

  •  DDay has an important observation (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Sunspots, Progressive Pen
    I think the real tell here is this: the two Senators arguably the closest to the White House, Dick Durbin and John Kerry, did not sign this letter. That’s a bit of a tell for the level of flexibility the President wants on a grand bargain. The simple claim made in this letter is that the budget and Social Security have separate funding streams, and so changes to their programs should be considered separately. But the two biggest allies of the White House in the Senate wouldn’t even go there.
    On the other hand:
    "I guarantee you, flat guarantee you, there will be no changes in Social Security," Biden told patrons of the Coffee Break Café in Stuart, Virginia, "I flat guarantee you."
    And then the President weighs in, and "no changes" becomes:
    So we are going to have to make some changes in Social Security, but it’s not the major driver of our deficit. And what I’ve proposed is let’s work on Social Security, but let’s not confuse that with this major budget debate that we’re having about how we deal with both spending and revenues because that is the problem that is going to require some really hard work and some bipartisan cooperation.
    He held out lifting the earnings cap as something we could do to fix Social Security--which is what he said in the last campaign.  When the campaign ended he launched a series of efforts to cut it, including in the failed Grand Bargain last year. He also has indicated support for Simpson-Bowles, which provides:
    One of the items in the Bowles-Simpson plan is a reduction in the annual cost-of-living adjustment of roughly 0.3 percentage points. This would be accomplished by using a different index that, by design, would show a lower measured rate of inflation. It is important to recognize that this is an annual cut that would accumulate over time. After a retiree has been receiving benefits for 10 years the cut would be 3.0 percent, after 20 years it would be 6 percent. If a typical retiree lives long enough to get benefits for 20 years the average benefit cut over their years of retirement would be 3 percent.

    This is the most immediate cut to Social Security in the Bowles-Simpson plan but not the only one. The plan also would gradually raise the age at which retirees receive full benefits to 69. It also phases in a reduction in benefits for workers whose earnings averaged more than $40,000 a year over their working lifetime.

    Meanwhile, Dick Durbin, the President's guy in the Senate, is on board for cutting Social Security now to avoid cutting it in 2037.  Seriously.  The average benefit is $14k a year and this wealthy politician wants to cut Social Security, now, can't wait.
    Durbin criticized a resolution put forward by Sen. Bernie Sanders, a liberal independent from Vermont, that says Social Security should not be cut under a deficit reduction plan. Durbin said he would not vote for such a resolution.
    I had a chance to meet Bernie Sanders last year, and I used it to thank him for his efforts to defend Social Security from the Republicans, and from Democrats like Dick Durbin and John Kerry.

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