Bernie Sanders, Leftist “Logic,” and Social Security

In an article in USA Today, ((I think it is odd how many politicians write partisan opinion pieces for major news outlets. It seems obvious to me that fair and unbiased news is less than likely to come from professional liars with a vested interest in swaying public opinion. But alas…)) Bernie Sanders, the Democrat junior Senator from Vermont, talked a little about untaxed rich people, Social Security, corporate tax loopholes, and other Democrat talking points. Since I found his article so riveting, I thought I would respond to some of his major (entirely unsubstantiated) claims and address the twisted logic of his thinking about Social Security especially.

First, he reiterates the old lie that Social Security is an “earned income benefit”:

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.

Okay. Social Security is our money. That’s what politicians since FDR have been selling the American people: “We’ll take some of your money, put it in an account, and that way you’ll have something to live on when you retire.” But the fact is that Social Security is actually a negative investment. People would have more to retire on if they put their Social Security taxes in a zero-interest bank account and drew out of it after retirement. But at least we know that all of our Social Security taxes are being held in a giant trust fund bank account for us to draw on later, right? Wrong. But Bernie Sanders seems to think, or at least wants you to believe, this is the case:

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.

But his information is very misleading, verging on mendacious. Listen to this tidbit from an NBC article on the Social Security crisis:

As a Congressional Research Service (CRS) report explained in 2000, “Contrary to popular belief, Social Security taxes are not deposited into the Social Security trust funds … Along with many other forms of revenues, these Social Security taxes become part of the government’s operating cash pool, or what is more commonly referred to as the U.S. treasury. In effect, once these taxes are received, they become indistinguishable from other monies the government takes in.”

Right. So, basically, the Social Security “trust fund” surplus Bernie Sanders refers to—that 2.8 trillion dollars—is actually in Treasury Bonds. Though it may look like a surplus on the books, it is in actuality a debt liability that the Treasury will have to pay out when those bonds are cashed. Ouch. Rather than being a surplus as Senator Sanders pretends, it is actually an added government deficit. In other words, our Social Security nest egg is already spent, and it has been replaced with a 2.8 trillion dollar IOU from Uncle Sam.

That means that, as Social Security benefits outstrip Social Security taxes, those bonds will be cashed in to pay for the difference, adding to the overall debt liability of the U.S. government. But, thankfully, Social Security taxes are so high, we should be all right for some time to come, right? Wrong:

Last year — partly due to high unemployment and the aging of the population — Social Security taxes collected (nearly $640 billion) were less than the benefits paid out (more than $701 billion). The system had a “negative net cash flow.”

That’s really bad. So Sanders’ solution is to increase Social Security taxes for people who make a lot of money:

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.

Wait one second. If Social Security has a 2.8 trillion dollar surplus, why is Sanders worried at all about making it “fully solvent”? Answer: because he knows the surplus he reported is actually a liability. And his solution is ludicrous. He thinks it is an outrage that rich people don’t pay Social Security taxes on more than $113,700 of their income. But if what he argued earlier is true—if Social Security benefits are an “earned income benefit”—than that just means that rich people will get a Social Security payout commensurate with a lower income (about $113,700 a year to be exact). This isn’t unjust at all. And it makes a lot of sense. If Social Security is based on earned income, then a higher tax now should just mean a higher payout later. And no net gain for the system.

Unless, contrary to Sanders’ earlier avowals, Social Security payouts have nothing to do with what you’ve earned. If Social Security is just another way to redistribute wealth, then rich people will pay into the benefit for their entire salary even though they will get only a pittance back on that “investment.” And this is really what Social Security is all about. And Sanders wants to increase this discrepancy in an effort to force rich people to “pay their fair share.” I think they should pay their fair share as well. Which is why I think their taxes should be lower.

And, furthermore, if they did increase Social Security taxes on the wealthy, where would that added revenue go? Not into paying for poor old people to live more comfortably —unfortunately. That in itself would still be an unjust redistribution of wealth, but at least it would seem charitable on the surface. But no, it’s so much worse than that. Remember? The extra taxes would go to the Treasury—into the general pool. And the civil government would either spend it, or use the extra income to borrow even more money from the Federal Reserve. Ugh.

Bottom line: Bernie Sanders is a dirty liar and a thief’s handmaiden. He pretends to care about the poor in order to steal from the rich, but in the end, the rich man’s money will just go into Prince John’s pocket. All the poor man will get in return is a U.S. government IOU. And that IOU is looking more and more specious as the days go by.

30 responses

  1. Bernie is clueless and makes any visit to Vermont off my list..If they want Socialism they they don’t need my tourist $$$$…Rot in H*LL Bernie

  2. I believe it was Einstein who said… “The difference between intelligence and stupidity is that intelligence has its limits.”

  3. Social Security is not sacred. It’s just not the current driver of our national $17.1 trillion debt. National Security is and has been ever since 9/11. In 20+ years, Social Security will have outreached its present LARGE surplus, but National Security at this very moment is the driver of our huge indebtedness–those five programs comprising “National Security” accounting for $1.3 trillion annually, almost the very figure our national deficit was at for so many years. Five programs? Homeland Security (the price of being everywhere internationally and, as a result, being an international target), foreign aid designed to gain the cooperation of other nations (flyover rights, on-ground bases, etc.), nation building (the costs of owning countries we bomb), veterans affairs (the biggest such operation in the world since we generate veterans at the greatest pace), and national defense (sometimes conflated with being SuperPower on Call, an extravagance once affordable in boom times). When did you vote for all of these?

    Bernie Sander’s “leftist” logic? What say we re-direct the solution(s) you insinuate back to the real problem, Minkoff? The real problem is people underpaid for hard work successfully carried out, not the poor robbing the rich, not redistribution of wealth downward.
    Underpaying everyday folks is the problem, and it’s done by those complaining redistribution of wealth, those in the top third. They’re the ones playing keepaway with rewards at the “bottom”, the ones who prefer keepiung labor voiceless, compliant, underrewarded and overburdened.

    I’m available for debate anytime, anywhere, Minkoff. Be prepared if you accept this open invitation.

    • food stamps are corporate welfare. They actually are not welfare for the workers themselves, who undoubtably have difficult wonderful lives. What ends up happening is that because the What ends up happening is that because the government comes in and supplements egregiously low wages with benefits like food stamps, the companies don’t have to pay living wages. So in effect, your tax money is being used to support corporate margins. Even better, many of these folks who get the food stamp benefits then turn around and spend them at the very companies which refuse to pay them decent wages. Who benefits? CEOs and shareholders. Who loses? Society.

    • How about this piece of garbage that votes to cut food stamps for those lazy hungry freeloaders while personally pocketing $4 MILLION from taxpayers in “farm aid”!!!!

      • Changed your name again, eh, Bobby ?? You’re right – we have too many lazy freeloaders in the USA now, don’t we ?? If they’re hungry, they can go find some sort of employment, since your hero zerobuma has made the economy come roaring back – –

      • I see America’s “poor” everyday . . . they seem to be doing well, living like kings actually.

        You might consider getting out more often.

        • NOTHING can get Christians MORE upset than the idea of feeding hungry children or helping the needy! You have NO problem providing corporate welfare for the most profitable fortune 500 companies, Millionaire farmers or funding wars all over the world AND expanding a military budget that’s LARGER that the next 10 countries combined! To suggest that America’s poor are “living like kings” makes you nothing more than a vile piece of garbage.

          • ANOTHER right wing MYTH!!! Conservative Christians count giving money to the church as “charity” in spite of the fact the church may spend the bulk of its resources degrading and attacking other faiths, insulting gay people and leading crusades to strip people of their civil liberties. They may never feed the hungry, clothe the naked, or comfort the afflicted. Yet in IRS terms they are a charity no matter how uncharitable they may be.

          • your a complete nutcase or just plain stupid or onther leftwing nutcase LIAR!! Conservataions have done MORE to help the pure beyond the churches.. INfact its a prove fact through the IRS that thye do and also there are many more non religious organizations that donation 10 times mkore than you libs.. Talk about being haters you libs have that title!!! As far as making htis a gay issue the church has donated more to iads groups than anhy other ones around so ger ur head outta obamas butt and see the light..FOOL

          • The fact that you refer to the IRS for your “facts” speaks volumes. The only way the IRS has any information on “charitable” contributions is if the contributor is seeking a tax break for his “charity. When you get paid/reimbursed you are not really giving (at least not for the right reasons).
            I have never taken a tax deduction for ay charitable contribution I have given, and the amount I have given over the years is rather substantial. I am sure that there are others that feel the same way I do, so the IRS information is incomplete and says nothing about who gives more, but does show who’s getting paid to give.

  4. Speaking of logic, can ANYONE explain to me teabag logic of blocking Obama’s judicial nominees & claiming Obama is “packing the court” by filling in vacancies yet it wasn’t when Dubya did the same thing?? Is it as simple as they don’t understand what “court packing” is (it’s ADDING the number of judges on the court NOT filling in vacancies)??

      • I KNOW the GOP understands that when you win presidential elections you get to pick judges & I assume they understand “packing the court” means ADDING judges to the court NOT filling in vacancies so I can ONLY assume they realize their “low information” voters don’t know the difference & won’t see the hypocrisy

  5. You have to admire the liberal, progressive who is so convinced of their cause they have no guilt in stealing from one who earns to reward another who only consumes. Meanwhile the progressive will spend not a nickel of their own money. They truly believe in this tyranny of altruism. They are completely committed to destroying the very social structure which makes their contrived charity possible.

  6. Sanders is a commie so he’s at home in the democrat party. They all speak “illogical liberalism.” Dear Leader understands it – his bibles are “Rules for Radicals” and the “Communist Manifesto.” There’s nothing logical about devoting yourself to The Lie, but progressive democrats have done it just like commies, nazis and fascists over the last century.

    • I understand that Sanders had his admirer in Ohio’s Democratic Senator Sherrod Brown. Hopefully the citizens will reclaim this Country and the Socialists will leave and take up residence in a Country that better serves their beliefs.

  7. This says a lot about the liberal State of Vermont who sends to the US Senate lying weenies like Sanders and Leahey….what the heck is wrong with that state?

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