Eleven Democratic senators have signed onto a resolution, sponsored by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), vowing to strike down any proposal by the White House debt commission to reduce Social Security benefits, including raising the retirement age.
Sens. Sanders and Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) unveiled the resolution Thursday during a conference call with reporters, arguing that Social Security is not the cause of the national debt.
“Do not send Congress a plan that will cut Social Security benefits, raise the retirement age, or privatize this life and death program,” Sanders said on the call. “If you do, we’ll vote it down, and do everything we can to see it defeated.”
The commission is reportedly exploring ways to reduce payouts for Social Security, which is currently running a $2.5 trillion surplus, according to its trustees report, but is projected to run into financial problems in 2037. Its recommendations will be unveiled in December and voted on by Congress during the lame-duck session.
“We strongly believe that cuts to Social Security benefits must not be part of any recommendations or any policymaking,” Brown said. “This isn’t just a political exercise.”
In addition to Sanders and Brown, the 10 co-sponsors are Sens. Daniel Akaka (D-Hawaii), Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), Russ Feingold (D-Wis.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) Dan Inouye (D-Hawaii), Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.), Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.). The full list is here.
The lawmakers could be in for a battle with not just Republicans but some members of the Democratic leadership, who have proposed incremental increases to the retirement age in accordance with average life span as a solution to the program’s long-term financial difficulties.
Eighty-five percent of the American public opposes cutting Social Security to reduce the deficit, according to an AARP-GfK Roper poll last month.