America's Social Security program is sound and should not have to change in order to pay down the national debt, according to a leading Democratic senator.


"One of the things that always troubles me is when we start talking about the debt, the first thing people do is run to Social Security," Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) told NBC's David Gregory on "Meet The Press" Sunday.

Reid continued, "Social Security is a program that works. And it's going to be -- it's fully funded for the next forty years. Stop picking on Social Security."

Gregory further probed Reid, the Senate Majority Leader, on whether "the arithmetic on Social Security works."

"I'm saying the arithmetic in Social Security works. I have no doubt it does," the Nevada senator replied.

Reid added that he would not endorse any "backdoor methods to whack Social Security recipients," such as raising the retirement age for inclusion into the program.

Within the last 20 years, three pushes have been made to privatize or cut Social Security benefits to the nation's elderly: once under President Bill Clinton, again under President George W. Bush, and now.

The Social Security program has paid scheduled benefits to recipients since its creation during the Great Depression and remains popular.

Only three percent of those surveyed in a recent 60 Minutes/Vanity Fair poll said they would support a cut in Social Security to balance the federal budget; 61 percent said they would favor a raising taxes on the wealthy, 20 percent supported cuts to military spending to accomplish the same goal.

However, the Social Security's supporters in Washington still worry about whether President Barack Obama would call for cuts once he agreed to begin diverting some payroll taxes away from the program.

"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," Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) said during a broadcast of MSNBC's The Ed Show this past December.

"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."

This video is from Crooks and Liars, broadcast Jan. 9, 2011.

With reporting by Eric W. Dolan.