Half of the country, 165 million Americans, accept Social Security in some form. Therefore, reforming the nearly bankrupt wealth transfer program is never popular among politicians.
But Bernie Sanders, a socialist Senator from Vermont who is running for President as a Democrat, told Wolf Blitzer on CNN that he plans to expand Social Security if he was elected President.
"You don't cut Social Security to save Social Security," Sanders said. He said the US should lift the cap on payments to Social Security. The retirement program caps payments on incomes above $118,500.
"Someone is making $118,000 per year and someone is making $10 million per year. They're paying the same amount of money into the Social Security Trust Fund. You lift that cap and you start asking people above $250,000 a year to start paying more into system. Social Security can be extended and we should expand benefits."
Social Security was enacted in the 1930s where workers would pay a tax that would provide a stipend to retirees. For decades, the taxes of 45 Americans paid the retiree income of a single retiree. But today, the ratio is three to one. The Congressional Budget Office projects there will be no funds to pay one third of the benefits of retirees in 20 years as Baby Boomers complete retirement.
Republicans have called for a variety of reforms to protect Social Security, including raising the retirement age, reducing benefits or allowing personal retirement accounts where workers can invest in the stock market. But Sanders believes this is an attack on Social Security which, along with Medicare, is the nations' largest expense.
"It's a universal program. Everybody deserves to put into it, everybody deserves to get a benefit out of it," Sanders said. "We can extend that program by not asking anybody more than the top two percent to contribute more into it."