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Bernie Sanders would like to talk about Social Security

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The conversation around Social Security sometimes seems to take place in two separate worlds. On one side, there are people who believe the program in unsustainable in its current form, and that as the share of the population that is older than 65 continues to grow, Social Security will need to be adjusted to reflect that reality. On the other side are people who point out that not only is Social Security not particularly generous (it only replaces about 40 percent of pre-retirement income), but also we need to both alter its funding and what it pays out to account for the age of inequality, which is simultaneously increasing people’s dependence on the program even as it further undermines the program’s finances.

One man firmly in the latter camp is Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT.), who is bringing back his Social Security Expansion Act on Wednesday. The day selected is no accident: Wednesday also marks something Social Security activists call Scrap the Cap Day, an annual event designed to highlight how little millionaires pay into the system.

As the Center for American Progress (CAP) notes in a report also released Wednesday, the Social Security trust fund would contain a lot more money if it weren’t for the payroll tax cap, which is set at $132,900. In 1983, 90 percent of total earnings were taxed by Social Security. Today, it’s 83.4 percent. The reason? As the wealthy’s income rose while that of the remainder of the population essentially stagnated, the cap shielded an increasing percentage of funds from Social Security taxes. As the CAP report goes on to explain, based on the $694 million annual income Donald Trump claimed he earned in........

© Washington Post