Transcript: Sen. Bernie Sanders’s speech at the New Hampshire Institute of Politics on April 12, 2014 – Part 9

Part 9 – Partial transcript of remarks by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) at the New Hampshire Institute of Politics on April 12, 2014:

Now, I want to talk a little bit about another area that I have spent a bit of time working on and that’s the issue of retirement security. At a time when only 1 in 5 workers in the private sector have a defined benefit pension plan, when half of Americans have less than $10,000 in savings, and two-thirds of seniors rely on Social Security for more than half of their income, our job is to stand up strong and say to our friends at the other side of town today – our right-wing Republican friends – you are not going to cut Social Security. [Applause]

Now, I’m going to give you, you know, there’s a lot of difficult news out there. Challenging news. Bad news. Going to give you a success story here, which you helped make happen and millions of other American made help.

I want to take you back 2, 3 years ago to Washington, D.C. And here’s what was going on in Washington, D.C. My Republican friends was saying, “Well, you know we have this terrible deficit…Therefore, we are going to have to do cut Social Security – chained CPI.”

Now, they come up with this expression chained CPI. You know why? Because nobody has a clue of what chained CPI is. But chained CPI really amounts to significant cuts in COLA benefits for seniors and for, by the way, disabled veterans. And as Chairman of the Veterans Committee, I was more than aware of that.

What we did -now at that point, 2.5 years – virtually every Republican – Bowles and Simpson – and all these guys talking about it. You had many Democrats talking about it. And guess what? You have the President of the United States talking about it.

And you have people like Pete Peterson…Pete is a Wall Street billionaire, and this guy has put hundreds of millions of dollars into an obsession to cut Social Security. And I got to tell you – this is a funny story. The last time and the first time I was on this campus was, I don’t know, a year ago, a year and a half ago, Peterson’s group – he has a group running around talking about the deficit – and they came to St. Anselm’s college. So we organized a group of seniors from New Hampshire and Vermont and Massachusetts to say hello to those folks, and we filled up not this room but another room. And it was a very interesting meeting because Pete’s friends heard from folks they did not necessarily want to hear from.

But the point is right now when so many people living on the edge, when poverty among seniors is actually going up, when we have waiting lists for the Meals on Wheels program, when many seniors are in trouble, it would be morally grotesque for anybody to talk about cutting Social Security. Our job, in fact, we’re working on legislation right now is to expand Social Security. [Applause]

And when anybody tells you – when a lot of, I’ll use a nice word, misinformation out there about Social Security going broke, I think you all know Social Security can pay out every benefit owed to every eligible American for the next 19 years.

And if you do one very simple thing, you could make Social Security stronger for the next 50 or 60 years. You know what that is? Right now, somebody makes $10 million a year, somebody makes $117,000 a year, they both contribute the same amount into Social Security. Lift that cap. Lift that cap and Social Security is strong for the next 50 or 60 years and we can expand benefits, and that’s what we have got to do.


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