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Bernie Sanders writes, "Republicans hate Social Security because it has been an extraordinary success and has done exactly what it was designed to do. It is the most successful government program in our nation's history and is enormously popular."

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, 06/28/11. (photo: LA Times)
Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, 06/28/11. (photo: LA Times)

Why Do Republicans Hate Social Security?

By Sen. Bernie Sanders, Reader Supported News

22 September 11


epublicans hate Social Security because it has been an extraordinary success and has done exactly what it was designed to do. It is the most successful government program in our nation's history and is enormously popular.

When Social Security was developed, 50 percent of seniors lived in poverty. Today, that number is 10 percent - still too high, but a testament to the success of Social Security.

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.

Now - in a prolonged recession that has decimated the poor and middle class and pushed more Americans into poverty than at any point in modern history - we need to strengthen Social Security. That's why I, along with nine co-sponsors, have introduced the "Keeping Our Social Security Promises Act." This legislation would lift the Social Security Payroll tax cap on all income over $250,000 a year, would require millionaires and billionaires to pay their fair share into the Social Security Trust Fund, and would extend the program for the next 75 years.

Join me now as a citizen co-sponsor of the Keeping Our Social Security Promises Act.

For 76 years, through good times and bad, Social Security has paid out every benefit owed to every eligible American. The most effective way to strengthen Social Security for the next 76 years is to scrap the payroll tax cap for those earning $250,000 a year or more.

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% of Americans pay Social Security tax on all of their income, but the wealthiest 6% 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.

Join me and Democracy for America in fighting to strengthen Social Security - Sign on as a citizen co-sponsor of the Keeping Our Social Security Promises Act.

Social Security is keeping tens of millions of seniors out of poverty today. I can think of no more important issue facing our country today than making sure that Social Security remains strong for generations to come.

Thank you.


Senator Bernie Sanders
US Senator from Vermont your social media marketing partner


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+93 # Gordon K 2011-09-22 22:01
Bernie has it exactly right, as usual!
+45 # Kayjay 2011-09-22 22:42
Kudos to Bernie for revealing the truth behind the madness of the GOP rats. It seems the wealthiest just don't want to pay this tax....because they don't need any social security payouts when they are old and living in their chateaus. Unfortunately.. ..the rich just wanna know, security, what's in it for them? All the more reason to support Bernie's efforts to keep millions of seniors out of poverty.
+16 # Progressive Patriot 2011-09-22 23:19

That's the bottom line...
+14 # Elroys 2011-09-22 23:25
Why should the wealthy pay their fair share? They bought our Congress, on the cheap, fair and square, now they make the rules, fair and square. Isn't that what America is about - fair and square?
+28 # pres 2011-09-22 23:32
The main thing 'Public-cans' hate about SS is it's not privatized.
If it was they could invest it in Wall St to reap enormous profits then devastate its value.
That's something to kill for... just like oil!
+16 # jimking 2011-09-22 23:33
Rule set in 1983 indicate that Social Security payroll tax should be collecting on 90% of all wages covered by social security. Sadly, today the Social Security fund is only collecting a little over 80% of what should be collected. If an adjustment were made the rich would have to pay their fair share.
( wishful thinking )
+32 # Dave45 2011-09-23 00:20
Republicans have an uncanny knack for taking a problem with a simple solution and turning it into an apocalyptic evil that is waiting in the wings to destroy us if we don't follow the always fear-inducing recommendations of Republican operatives. The beauty of Sanders' solution is that it is common sense that can be easily understood by all, though its wisdom and the beautiful efficiency of its economics will probably escape the overwhelmingly partisan minds of the poor Rs.
+19 # tomo 2011-09-23 09:34
Dave: You say "the poor Rs." You are speaking, I think, of their lobotomized
consciousness. Interestingly, though, many who vote Republican actually are, in the economic sense, poor or nearly poor--not wealthy, anyway. How amazing that neither teachers nor media have undertaken any serious effort to teach these near-poor that they are being exploited by the corporate masters of the Republican party. Evidently, the media and the teaching establishment have been brain-washed into thinking that to report this exploitation would somehow be to violate the canon of "balance" or, worse yet, would be to foment "class warfare." So we have arrived at a state of "political correctness" in which some perfectly obvious features of the American political scene simply go unreported and uncommented, and a great many Americans are left in ignorance on how their economic security is been undermined.
+11 # John Locke 2011-09-23 10:10
partially its because most Americans are truely ignorant about whats going on and whats in their best interest, most are followers and a very few are real leaders...oppos ition to the fascist takeover haven't a chance with the media already under their control and sadly the majority of both parties also
+8 # zakcat 2011-09-24 21:44
very well said! A teacher would be run out of town if he tried to teach the truth; they'd call him a socialist
+16 # RLF 2011-09-23 05:34
Finally someone in a position of power has said it. The cap is crazy!
+15 # MidwestTom 2011-09-23 06:16
In the past the top ones benefits were always related to what one paid in. As the 'ceiling' for payment into SS rose benefits rose at a much smaller percentage rate. Therefore as the ceiling rose the person paying in less than the top rate saw his ultimate benefits actually drop. My father wanted to work one more year, but SS was 'adjusting' in January and he would have received $120 per month less after the adjustment. i agree that everyone should pay on everything that they earn, I wish that Bernie wold lead the charge to put Congress under SS, then he would be more believable.
+21 # Todd Williams 2011-09-23 06:17
This man shows that having a little common sense in Congress is like being a genius! Luv ya, Bernie!
-54 # Martintfre 2011-09-23 06:25
If Social Security was such an extraordinary success then Obama never would have said If we don't fix the debt limit by aug 2nd social security checks might not go out -- Obama told the truth - it is broke.
+22 # Jane Gilgun 2011-09-23 08:22
The US treasury takes money from the social security fund. If we had sensible economic policies, the rich would pay their fair share. The treasury would not rob social security.
-18 # John Locke 2011-09-23 10:12
Obama does what his corporate masters tell him to do, he doesn't have an independent thought, he is a stooge and not a bright one at that...his financial backers were all wall street and hedge funds, need i say more?
+17 # racp 2011-09-23 11:07
Social Security has been that success. The trust fund has put that money in the Federal Bonds. The problem for Social Security is the Republicans. W. Bush borrow money from the trust fund to, among other things, pay for his wars. In addition he made crystal clear that the republicans believe they have the right not to pay the money back to the Trust Fund, as they please when in control of the government. Remember in 2000, Al Gore talking about the "locked box" for social security funds, many people laughed then... he knew what he was taking about.
+2 # ABen 2011-09-23 12:34
Hopefully you know how uninformed this make you sound.
-27 # Martintfre 2011-09-23 14:24
awwe poor babies - Obama actually speaks the truth - I remind ya of it and ya hate that.
Boo Hoo ..

PS: SSA is broke that is why we are printing borrowing 43 cents of ever federal dollar spent.
-11 # BradFromSalem 2011-09-23 14:26
The fix is so simple that I am amazed that the Right Wingers don't propose it and then credit for it.
Reagan was at least smart enough to figure out that he could at least have a hand in fixing it. That was 25 years ago. Dontcha' think maybe we need to update the formula? Real hard. I must have exerted about 2 brain cells. Do you guys have even that many to spare after you spend all your time trying to only 2 things.
First and foremost get that Black Democrat out of the White People's House. And second, lets make sure any tax dollars we do collect are deposited directly into the bank accounts of rich people.

I know you are not a rascist and you are offended by my accusation. Tough. But I will give you this. If a person is Black and rich he is OK. As long he behaves and doesn't make any noise like Rev. Wright did.
+13 # Regina 2011-09-23 23:20
Nonsense! SS isn't broke -- what would keep the checks from going out during a government shut-down is that no employees would be there to run the checks and envelope addresses. Machines and conveyor systems need employees to turn them on and off and otherwise make sure that they're operational. And employees need to be paid for their work. Also the building needs its lights, A/C, doors opened on time, etc. The Republican Party depends on know-nothings for their power. People had better learn to think
+30 # tswhiskers 2011-09-23 06:47
Thank you, Bernie. Thanks to Soc. Sec. I now live more comfortably than before I had it. I'm a small business owner and times are very tough right now. I don't think I'd be able to stay in business and pay my bills without it. I've said it before and I'll say it again. The Republicans want to turn the U.S. into an economy like that of Mexico, with all the money in the hands of the top few percent and the peasants scrabbling in the dirt to make a subsistence living, if that. I don't understand why they are so intent upon ruining this country, but they are. If anyone has ideas as to why, I'd like to hear them. It sounds from MSNBC like the Dems are finally done with their hibernation, and Obama too has become more combative. Let us all hope that the Dems really put some teeth into this election fight. They certainly have a plethora of issues to use against the Reps.
+12 # John Locke 2011-09-23 10:16
I think its basically ignorance on the bases part, its the higher level that is corrupt, they want "smaller" government so that means privatizing everything, maybe even outsourcing SS to China? it is also a payoff for theit Wall Street Backers, if wall street gets control of the SS fund, god help us, because only a revolution would stop the corruption and the losses that would follow
+23 # Dbratton 2011-09-23 07:00
Have other readers noticed that right-wing commentators on other sites are now blaming FDR for the Great Depression? I followed a story on MSNBC yesterday where a whole string of comments suggested that it was FDR's fault that the Depression continued into the late 1930s, most of them assigning this protraction to his creation of a social safety net. It's appalling the way the Tea Party is rewriting American history. With the help of Fox News, it seems to be succeeding in brainwashing many Americans, with absolutely NO mention of Hoover or the Republicans as the creators of the previous economic disaster!
-54 # Martintfre 2011-09-23 07:33
It was Hoovers fault we had a recession, it is FDR's fault a recession turned into a depression. Stimulus - government take overs micromanagement even to which chicken a customer can have from the butcher.
+16 # ABen 2011-09-23 12:28
Martin; please get your facts straight to preclude making historically inaccurate statements. The Great Depression started under the policies of "do nothing" Calvin Coolidge and was exacerbated by Hoover. When FDR came to office, unemployment was around 24-26%. FDR's controversial policies got it down to 14-16% by 1937-37, at which point he listened to the "deficit hawks" of the time (some of whom had tried to unseat him through a coup), cut back government spending, and saw unemployment jump to 18-19%. After that, he went back to the policies that he favored and not only was able to get unemployment back down to the 12-14% range but also start to gear US industry up for the coming war effort. If you are one who insists that it was "the war" and not FDR's policies that ended the Great Depression in the US, perhaps you should consider government spending during the war as the mother of all stimulus packages.
-14 # Martintfre 2011-09-23 14:26
Harding/Coolidg e stopped a potential recession far worse then what Hoover /FDR foobared.

at the end of WW I - millions of troops came home with no jobs and industry was geared for a war that was over. Fed gove cut actual spending by 25 % and got the hell out of the way - the e3conomy rebounded nicely - real wealth for even the common man zoomed.
+10 # ABen 2011-09-23 21:19
Martin; so you like the economic policies of the Roaring 20's. It was precisely the unregulated and irresponsible economic policies of this period that led to the crash of 1929. Yes, the rich definitely got richer during this period, but the rest (80%) of the country got the shaft. Check the statistical data from the period if you really are interested in facts, or are you just regurgitating the latest Fixed Noise talking points. Facts are such pesky things.
-11 # Martintfre 2011-09-23 15:02
//If you are one who insists that it was "the war" and not FDR's policies that ended the Great Depression //
FDR's depression did not end till 1946.

War only ends depression for military industrial complex. It is not productive unless you think that massive rationing and mass killing is a good idea.
+4 # ABen 2011-09-23 20:09
Dbratton; I heartily concur! Your comment about Rethugs/Teabagg ers trying to rewrite history is very accurate and timely. One of the defining characteristics of the current group of wing-nuts is not letting historical fact get in the way of an ideology based narrative. You can see a prime example of that in some of the comments posted here. As a student of history, I see the attempts to paint the Great Depression as the fault of FDR's policies as utterly without merit or historical support. While there can be a legitimate debate about how effective FDR's policies were at addressing the systemic economic problems of the Great Depression as well as those created by the hands off policies of Coolidge and Hoover, but NO credible historian would ascribe the Great Depression to FDR!
-40 # Martintfre 2011-09-23 07:15
//the Social Security Administration, Social Security has a $2.7 trillion surplus //
Really? OR just pandering.

These government securities .. when they get cashed out - exactly where is that money going to come from?

What Does Government Security Mean?
A government debt obligation (local or national) backed by the credit and taxing power of a country with very little risk of default.

Read more:

In short - we are expected to pay twice.
Once when the FICA money that never gets into SSA is spent in the general funds and replace with an IOU (SSA asset- 2.7 trillion) ironically called a security
and the second time - when the security matures and needs redeemed.
-15 # John Locke 2011-09-23 10:19
Interesting insight, yes we are actuaslly paying for the SS benefit twice once when it is paid from our income, and the second time when the government debt created by borrowing the money comes due...what a scam!!!!!
+16 # MylesJ 2011-09-23 11:32
the scam was fghting wars off the books and raiding the SS trust fund for the money to do it because they were too chicken to deal directly with the people over the authority to spend vast sums of money we did not have
+32 # artful 2011-09-23 07:20
It isn't complicated. Social security is identified as a Democratic program. It is wildly popular. Therefore, it must be killed. Oh, and also there's that little thing of money. Republicans worship big money remember. They want to get their hands on all that Social security money and gamble with it. So much fun!
-20 # Martintfre 2011-09-23 10:35
//They want to get their hands on all that Social security money //

Too late - CONgress spent it the day it showed up.
+14 # jlohman 2011-09-23 07:23
Look, this is one issue and only one issue: campaign contributions. Privatized SSI can give campaign bribes and the government can't. And THAT drives the politicians. Not the needs of the country.

Jack Lohman
+18 # Todd Williams 2011-09-23 07:28
Dbratton, when dictators take over a country, they always rewrite history. Look at Lenin, Hitler and Stalin, for example. The Rethuglican Party is rewriting history in order to demonize the Progressive movement. Next they'll be saying Teddy Roosevelt was really a Democrat!
+14 # Todd Williams 2011-09-23 07:30
If the Rethuglicans eliminate SS, I expect a check for every dime I've put into the system over 43 years plus interest. (I won't hold my breath for that one!)
+8 # 2011-09-23 10:49
+10 # 2011-09-23 10:54
Read some of the other well written comments and you may understand what SS is, Martinfre. Your comments are not logically or historically relevant.
+33 # fredboy 2011-09-23 07:32
Yes, the GOP hates it because:
1. A Democrat, FDR, championed and passed it and it worked.
2. It helped those in need, violating the current GOP theme of despising the poor and needy.
3. When the GOP administration blunders led to the Great Depression, Social Security helped many of their victims. The GOP repeated the harm in 2008, and Social Security was there to help many. Thus, they are again embarrassed.
During the booming 1990s an arch-GOP colleague despised the boom and bull market, decrying stock gains and new company success. The reason: it was on Clinton's watch.
The GOP draws greedy, envious, jealous, immature, vicious, naysaying twits. Who hate America and Americans. The nation best wake up and recognize this.
+5 # ABen 2011-09-23 20:16
Fredboy; insightful, perceptive, and well said!! The first Clinton budget was decried by the Repubs as a path to financial disaster. It took Al Gore to break the tie and pass the budget. This is the same set of economic policies that ushered in six years of prosperity, culminating in balanced budgets and three years of surplus. The idea that R's are better with economic matters is simply a myth perpetuated by the Republican party.
+10 # Jane Gilgun 2011-09-23 08:25
Thank you for taking leadership on this important issue, Senator Sanders, and for telling the truth. Are we finally standing up to the radicals who are underming quality of life in the US and globally? I hope so.
+9 # kalpal 2011-09-23 08:27
America's right wing hates any possibility of the poor being not being so poor as to not need to beg and grovel for their daily sustenance.

The poor must die off as soon as their exploitability has ended due to ill health or simply worn out bodies. No reason exists to keep them alive. They have minimal proclivity to support right wingers in pursuit of power and its abuse.
+8 # 2011-09-23 10:47
Thank you Bernie Saunders for an excellent, important editorial. PLEASE
+7 # KB166HF 2011-09-23 12:36
Bernie--you are doing the absolute right thing! Now, let's get the rest of Democratics showing the same courage to explain the issues. Thank you.
-20 # Martintfre 2011-09-23 15:07
//Republicans hate Social Security because it has been an extraordinary success//

What an amazingly false and hateful statement.

Where is the money going to come from to make good on the 2.7 trillion surplus Berni claims we are sitting on?

Before getting mad at me and posting ignorant vitriol get an answer to this question:
What is a government security?
+6 # Paul Scott 2011-09-23 15:47
Prior to 1983 all of the nation’s working class was quite happy that at retirement they would have a Social Security check coming in, once a month, to help pay the bills. Then SS started losing favor in republican politics/religi on; and by 2000 it was the enemy breaking the nation. Notwithstanding that Bush/Cheney was allowed by a republican congress to start two wars.

Having learned from my 69 years, on the planet, one of the things I learned long ago is when a lot of people start believing something different, at the same time or in a short period of time, you can bet your bippy that man’s fingerprints is all over the reason.

The answer to the question is located behind the following website.

The think tanks and the religious right have more in common that one may be aware of, for some names appear at the top of both movements; and that simply is no coincidence. Yes. I believe in conspiracies, because I believe the bible.
+3 # 2011-09-23 16:06
A point of order: our 6.2% Social Security deductions are immediately deposited in the Social Security
Administration's account in the Treasury's 'bank' where they are used to purchase the equivalent of
Treasury bonds which draw the same interest as regular Treasury bonds. This, by law is as the Congress under FDR's plan is required to do. Our Social Security contributions have been deposited in U.S.government- backed Treasuries because they are considered the safest possible place to put the funds while still drawing interest on our accounts. At that point, Congress can, as with the income from the deposit of receipts from the sale of regular Treasuries, wage wars, inspect foods, regulate air travel, and so on.
+8 # DLT888 2011-09-23 17:03
Thank you, Bernie!! Social Security belongs to the working people and it is rightfully OURS. We EARNED it. It is NOT an entitlement. We did not earn our retirement from the sweat off the backs of other people like the Robber Class. We earn our money with hard work -- Hands off Robber Class and stop taking things that do not belong to you!!
+7 # Paul Scott 2011-09-23 18:13
Another point I would make is if we don't have money to pay SS retirees we damn sure don't have the money to wage war. Its past time republicans get their head out of their ass.
+5 # 2011-09-24 16:35
Lets Get Some Facts On The table. Social security is not bankrupt. It has been looted by the politicians. If Bernie wants to complain why doesn't he look in the mirror. Dr. Adrian Kreig wrote this analysis in the Daily Bell. You really need to read it and forward it to your entire list. There are 2 parts to this post. Read them together and get straight on SS.

There are Ponzi schemes and then there's Social Security. For the last ten weeks every politician from Obama to Sanders has been harping about the out-of-control social costs of Social Security and Medicare and our immediate need to raise taxes and reduce benefits. These political ideologues are liars because the entire Social Security system is nothing but lies.

According to the Social Security Administration, the average recipient collects $500,000 in retirement benefits but pays in only $278,000. Wrong! What they conveniently don't mention is that if the average beneficiary pays in $278,000 and the employer matches that with an equal amount, SS collects $556,000 per recipient.
0 # 2011-09-24 16:37
Well, actually not, because in addition, the Social Security Administration does not pay one cent of interest on monies that they hold for an average of 35 years per recipient. The compounded interest on $556,000, based on a moderate average of 4% annually beginning with zero and climbing to the total amount paid in at time of retirement, results in about $540,000 of interest. Thus the paid-in amount per citizen is actually $1,096,000. That amounts to $540,000 more than SS pays out. In fact, if the proverbial "Lock Box" into which SS payments are supposed to go actually existed, then the entire present outlay of all SS payments could be made out of the interest collected on funds in that "Lock Box" – the interest alone!

Some years ago I had a good friend who worked as an actuary for NY Life. I asked him to figure out how much NY Life would pay me upon retirement at age 65 if I had paid all SS fees to them along with those I paid as an employer (self-employed) . He calculated I would receive $3,400 per month, or $40,800 per year, and if I died before age 85 my wife would get over $80,000. In contrast, my Social Security payout is $1,200, or $14,400 per year, and my wife will get $34,000 when I die.

Now, you have the facts. They cannot be disputed. Fire the politicians in November and elect Ron Paul. He will get this mess fixed.
+2 # KLA3114 2011-09-25 14:16
Thanks again, Mr. Senator! Bang On! Social Security will continue to work for future generations, if 1.) We stop sending jobs and employment off shore; building jobs and employment here in the US of A. And 2.) Stop borrowing from the Social Security Trust to help balance the budget.
+1 # 1953Boomer 2012-01-03 01:22
Elect Ron Paul he will fix it? He said the New Deal was Hoover's idea and it failed only because Roosevelt implemented it. Obviously he is unaware that the Great Depression officialy started with the Stock Market crash in Oct 1929, 3 1/2 years BEFORE Roosevelt became president. The depression was the result of a worldwide economic phenomenon, but Coolidge ignored what could happen and Hoover did not think it was his place to do anything when it happened (so logically why would he have created a program if he had no intention of implementing it?) The New Deal put millions of unemployed back to work, so how did that make everything worse? It's just like when Bush said the reason everything became so bad under his watch is because we had it too good under Clinton. The recession was primarily caused by Americans losing their jobs to outsourcing. That is the true way in which Reagan's trickle down economics works.The outsourcing was caused by corporate greed as cheaper labor was wanted. But the prices did not come down despite the cheaper labor(and inferior quality) and people without jobs had no money to buy the products. So the companies declared a loss and needed tax write offs to compensate.

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