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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 22, 2009
2:37 PM

CONTACT: US Senator Bernie Sanders

Michael Briggs (202) 557-1935

Sanders: White House Summit Must Spare Social Security and Medicare

WASHINGTON - February 22 - Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) warned today that Social Security and Medicare are likely to come under new attack at a "fiscal responsibility summit meeting" on Monday at the White House.

Sanders said that the huge and growing national debt is a major problem which must be addressed, but that there are ways of doing that without cutting Social Security benefits or decimating Medicare.

"During the last decade the wealthiest people in our country have become wealthier while working people have struggled desperately to keep their heads above water. It would be a betrayal of the needs of the middle class of this country if we lowered Social Security benefits or raised the retirement age for Social Security eligibility" said Sanders, a member of the Senate Budget Committee.

Social Security will remain solvent until 2041, according to projections by the system's trustees. "The truth is that there is no crisis in Social Security," Sanders said. "I am unalterably opposed to raising the retirement age or lowering benefits." Sanders said he will propose legislation to strengthen Social Security by lifting the cap on contributions that now allows upper-income wage earners avoid payments. "It is absurd that billionaires are contributing the same amount into Social Security as those who earn $105,000 a year," he said.

Medicare finances are in trouble, the senator allowed. "There is a financial crisis in Medicare, but that is directly related to the disintegration of our entire health care system - the most costly and wasteful in the world. The way to address that crisis is to join the rest of the industrialized world and create a national health care program guaranteeing health care for all," he said.

The bipartisan "fiscal responsibility summit" at the White House on Monday will be followed on Tuesday by an address by President Barack Obama to a special joint session of Congress. On Thursday, Obama formally will send the administration's budget request to Congress.

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