President Obama’s agreement to begin diverting some payroll taxes away from Social Security could spell the beginning of the end of America’s social safety net, according to Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT).
“I just spoke this afternoon to one of the leaders of one the largest the senior organizations in this country and she worries so much that when you start diverting $112,000 of payroll taxes away from Social Security, this could be the beginning,” the senator said during a Monday broadcast of MSNBC’s The Ed Show.
“Our Republican friends like this idea,” Sen. Sanders continued. “And they will extend, I fear, that concept. It is not good for the future of Social Security.”
Republicans have long sought to dismantle the current Social Security program and replace it with a privatized alternative. One such alternative is a kind of forced-savings program tied to the stock markets, which was inspired by economic policies instituted in Chile by right-wing dictator Augusto Pinochet.
In August, President Obama said Republican’s plans for privatizing Social Security were “an ill-conceived idea that would add trillions of dollars to our budget deficit while tying your benefits to the whims of Wall Street traders and the ups and downs of the stock market.”
The president had insisted that if Republicans retook Congress in 2010, they would attempt to destroy Social Security
The tax deal proposed by President Obama includes a temporary two-year extension of tax cuts for all income-earners, a 13 month extension of unemployment benefits, and a reduction in the payroll tax.
Budget estimates predict tax cuts for the highest earners will grow the national debt by over $700 billion over the next decade.
“One that does not give billions and billions of dollars in tax breaks to people who don’t need it and then force our kids and our grandchildren to pay that off by an increasing national debt,” Sen. Sanders said.
Sen. Sanders, who on the Senate floor last week spoke against the tax deal for over eight hours, thinks President Obama did not have to compromise with Republicans in order to extend tax cuts for the middle class and extend unemployment benefits.
“What the president in my view, what all of us should have done, is gone around the country, rallied the American people, and say, ‘really, do you think we should be lowering the estate tax for the top three-tenths of one percent?'” he said. “Do you really think that billionaires need a tax break? I think we win that debate and then we come to the table with the Republicans on the defensive, not us.”
President Obama defended his tax cut compromise with Republicans by saying the deal was necessary to prevent the American people from being harmed.
“I’ve said before that I felt that the middle-class tax cuts were being held hostage to the high-end tax cuts,” he said at a press conference. “I think it’s tempting not to negotiate with hostage takers — unless the hostage gets harmed. Then, people will question the wisdom of that strategy.”