If you look back at the comments on this retirement planning blog regarding Social Security, you can read a host of opinions from people who believe the program should be either eliminated or radically overhauled. Not many articulate responses have been posted by people who are supporters of Social Security. So in the interest of fairness, I'd like to share some of the opinions of Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders who has launched an all-out campaign to protect Social Security.
In an op-ed Sanders wrote that has been published in many U.S. newspapers, he says, "As corporations over the last 30 years destroyed the retirement dreams of millions of older workers by eliminating defined-benefit pension plans, Social Security was there paying full benefits. When Wall Street greed and recklessness caused working people to lose billions in retirement savings, Social Security was there paying full benefits.
"Despite its success, Social Security faces an unprecedented attack from Wall Street, the Republican Party and a few Democrats. If the American people are not prepared to fight back, the dismantling of Social Security could begin in the very near future," Sanders writes.
Sanders points out that while Social Security should have enough money available to pay full benefits for the next 26 or so years and 78 percent of promised benefits after that, fixing Social Security so it continues to be stable for our children and grandchildren is a good idea. Sanders proposes raising the cap on taxable income. "By removing the cap on incomes up to $250,000 or more, we can make Social Security fully solvent for generations to come," he writes.
Sanders also addresses why he thinks Social Security is under attack. He says Wall Street stands to gain billions in profits if workers are forced to go to private financial establishments for their retirement accounts. Second, he says that as the Republican Party has moved far to the right and become more anti-government, there are more Republicans who do not believe government has a responsibility to provide retirement benefits to the elderly or to help those with disabilities.
Sanders writes: "Needless to say, I strongly disagree with both of those propositions. In my view, maintaining and strengthening Social Security is absolutely essential to the future well-being of our nation. For 75 years it has successfully provided dignity and support for tens of millions of Americans. Our job is to keep it strong for the next 75 years."