BERN NOTICE: Bernie's Lifelong Fight to Expand Social Security

Since he was first sworn in as a Member of Congress, Bernie has always been pushing to protect and expand Social Security

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With just days until the Iowa caucuses, Social Security continues to be a central focus of the election campaign — which makes sense, considering Bernie has been fighting to protect and expand the program for his entire career. If you think that’s an exaggeration — think again and take a quick walk down memory lane.

When Bernie was first elected to Congress in 1990, Republicans and some Democrats were pushing to cut Social Security. Bernie fought those efforts every single step of the way. As Donald Trump now floats the possibility of Social Security cuts, here are some highlights from Bernie’s record:

1990 — BERNIE OPPOSES “ANY FREEZE OR CUT” IN SOCIAL SECURITY: During his congressional campaign to defeat a Republican incumbent, Sanders declared “I am very much opposed to any freeze or cut in the cost-of-living adjustments for Social Security recipients.” [Source: Elder’s Advocate, Fall 1990]

1991 — BERNIE PUSHES LEGISLATION TO EXPAND SOCIAL SECURITY: In his first weeks in Congress in 1991, Bernie was one of only 27 House co-sponsors on H.R. 865, which would increase Social Security benefits for caregivers. That year, Sanders also co-sponsored H.R. 53 to block a reduction in Social Security benefits for survivors. Bernie would go on to support similar legislation throughout his career (for examples, click here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here).

1993: BERNIE SAYS “ENTITLEMENT REFORM” MUST NOT INVOLVE SOCIAL SECURITY CUTS: In his newsletter, Bernie declared: “Some people claim that ‘entitlement reform’ is the answer to our government’s fiscal problems. They argue that we must cut back on entitlement programs like Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security to help balance the budget. I disagree.” He added that he had heard seniors’ concerns “about a proposal to balance the budget by cutting or ‘freezing’ cost of living increases in their Social Security checks…It is important that all of us stand together to oppose this proposal and to make certain that the budget is not balanced on the backs of the elderly, working people or the poor. I will work strenuously to make sure that this proposal does not become law.” [Source: Sanders newsletter, Winter-Spring 1993]

1994: BERNIE SLAMS LEGISLATION THAT WOULD POTENTIALLY CUT SOCIAL SECURITY: In an oped, Bernie wrote that “we must not balance the federal budget by reducing benefits to the most vulnerable members of our society. Social Security benefits have not contributed one penny to the nation’s huge deficit, and I believe Social Security should not be used as a source of cash to reduce the deficit.” In his 1994 reelection campaign, Sanders explicitly opposed cuts to Social Security in flyers and radio ads that say “Bernie Sanders opposes cutting Social Security.” Sanders says “It is imperative that we address the deficit problem that this nation faces, but we can do it without cutting Social Security.”[Source: Sanders oped, 7/18/94; 1994 flyer and radio ad]

1994-1995: BERNIE VOTES AGAINST BUDGET AMENDMENTS THAT WOULD CUT SOCIAL SECURITY: In 1994 and 1995, Bernie voted against balanced budget amendment proposals that would cut Social Security. In a floor speech, Bernie declared that “the balanced budget amendment approach being brought forth by the Republican majority…leaders all serious economists to the conclusion that the balanced budget amendment will be a disaster for working people, for elderly people, for low-income people. It will mean in my view the destruction of the Social Security system as we know it. It will mean savage cuts in Medicare, in Medicaid.” Bernie also co-sponsored legislation “expressing the sense of the Congress that Social Security should be maintained and protected” — the bill said explicitly "that Social Security should be maintained and that any changes to the program should be made only to preserve benefits.”

1997: BERNIE SAID WE SHOULD “ADJUST” SOCIAL SECURITY BY INCREASING TAXES PAID BY THE WEALTHY, NOT BY CUTTING BENEFITS: In an oped, Bernie wrote: If we are serious about saving Social Security, not raising taxes on the middle class, and not cutting back on benefits desperately needed by many senior citizens, we must adjust this artificial ceiling on Social Security taxes and make the Social Security tax more progressive. According to the actuaries at the Social Security Administration, changing this unfair and regressive policy, depending on exactly what is done, could raise up to $70 billion next year and keep the trust fund solvent, conservatively speaking, for another 56 years — until 2053.”

Bern after reading,

Sirota