January 26, 2016

Bernie Sanders has a plan to expand Social Security:

SANDERS: The era of protecting the middle class, and working families is certainly something that I will make happen. I believe, for example, that when my Republican colleagues talk about cutting Social Security, I say that when you're living on $12,000 a year in Social Security, no, we shouldn't cut it. We should expand Social Security. And, we do that by lifting the cap on taxable income.

Interestingly enough, the only GOP candidate who doesn't talk about "entitlement reform," which everyone left of John Kasich knows is code for cutting benefits and delaying the retirement age to 70, is Donald Trump, which proves he has better political instincts than his rivals. Donald Trump's website doesn't mention Social Security or Medicare at all.

We need a reframing of the Social Security cap issue to illustrate the number of weeks paying Social Security taxes. Most of us working stiffs pay payroll taxes 52 weeks a year. It's part of life. If you make one million dollars in salary, you only pay Social Security taxes for six weeks. You're done by Valentine's Day.

If you're Joe Scarborough or Tom Friedman, you pay Social Security taxes for two weeks or less. You're done by Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday.

In other words, if you're middle income or less, you pay longer. If you're rich, you get a tax break very early in the year, your paycheck goes up, and you are free and clear of your Social Security obligation. This happens once you make $118,500 in 2016.

There's a reason why "Grand Bargain" is a favorite topic on Morning Joe, and Chris Cuomo demands that Bernie Sanders frame his Social Security position as "a return to the era of Big Government." On-air personalities like it when their paycheck gets that Social Security cap "bonus" sometime before St. Patrick's Day.

The rest of us aren't so lucky.

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