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Don't cut the big benefit programs

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Source: USA Today

We must not balance the budget on the backs of the most vulnerable people in our country.



In America today, the middle class is disappearing, unemployment is sky high and senior poverty is growing. We also have the most unequal distribution of wealth and income of any major country. 

At a time when almost all new income created is going to the top 1% and when the gap between the very rich and everybody else is growing wider, we must not balance the budget on the backs of the most vulnerable people in our country: working families, the elderly, children, the sick and the poor.

We must not cut Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid.

Rather, the time is long overdue for Congress to end corporate tax loopholes and ask the wealthiest people in this country to start paying their fair share of taxes.

Let's be clear: Social Security is not an entitlement program. It is an earned income benefit that has been enormously successful in cutting the rate of senior poverty.

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Further, Social Security is not "going broke." According to the Social Security Administration, the Social Security Trust Fund has a surplus today of $2.8 trillion and can pay out every benefit owed to every eligible American for the next 20 years.

The solution to making Social Security fully solvent for the next 50 years is to apply the payroll tax on annual income more than $250,000. Right now, the Social Security tax stops at $113,700 a year, so someone who earns that amount pays the same as a billionaire. This makes no sense.

It is true that the increased cost of Medicare and Medicaid poses a serious problem for the federal budget. The answer, however, is not to cut Medicare and Medicaid but change why the United States spends almost twice as much per capita on health care as the people of any other country.

Our entire health care system, including Medicare and Medicaid, is much too wasteful and bureaucratic. We should join the rest of the industrialized world in moving toward a national health care program that provides health care to every man, woman and child as a right.

When we do that, we not only improve health care for all, we also create a much more cost-effective system than we have now.

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Bernie Sanders is the independent U.S. Senator from Vermont. He is the longest serving independent member of Congress in American history. He is a member of the Senate's Budget, Veterans, Environment, Energy, and H.E.L.P. (Health, Education, (more...)
 

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