Bernie Sanders: “No Question” Social Security Will Be On Chopping Block This Session

Bernie Sanders

On Wednesday, the Senate Budget Committee held a hearing titled “The coming crisis: Social Security Disability Trust Fund Insolvency.”

Republicans have made the insolvency of Social Security’s disability fund a big talking point in 2015.

The Social Security Administration says the disability fund could run out of money by 2027, but some observers call that an optimistic projection and claim the fund could become insolvent within a few years.

Senator Bernie Sanders, the ranking Democrat on the Budget Committee, told the Washington Post this week that the purpose of Wednesday’s hearing was to frame the stakes of the inevitable debate over entitlement reform.

Sanders told WaPo:

“Republicans have made it clear that they intend to pursue ‘entitlement reform,’ which is code for cutting Social Security and Medicare,” Sanders said in an interview today. “This is their first step forward. Whether they will focus on disability, or cuts in the retirement program, I don’t know. But there’s no question that they intend to push forward and try to cut Social Security.”


Democrats believe Republicans are exaggerating the sense of crisis to realize one of two political goals. Either they want to force immediate, and unnecessary, cuts to the disability fund — targeting an aspect of the program, after having failed in the past to achieve broader cuts — or they want to hold the disability fund hostage, in order to have another run at cuts to the broader program.

“Republicans are creating a phony crisis,” Sanders says. “They are saying the disability insurance program will be running out of money, and therefore one of two things has to happen: Either we cut disability or we have to look at the solvency of the whole program, to protect disability benefits, which means we’re going to have to cut benefits either through Chained CPI, or raising the retirement age, or through privatization.” Chained CPI is a way of rejiggering indexing to inflation that amounts to a benefits cut.

Republicans passed a rule tweak in January that prevents money transfers from the old-age fund into the disability fund.


Photo by  Senate Democrats via Flickr CC License

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