Senator Bernie Sanders has circulated a dear colleague letter in the Senate declaring that Social Security benefit cuts should NOT be a part of any deficit so-called “Grand Bargain” destined to be the focal-point of this fall’s lame duck Congressional session.  Sen. Sanders is the founder of the Senate’s Defending Social Security Caucus, and organized this effort with the help of Senators Begich(D-AK), Franken(D-MN) and Whitehouse (D-RI).  The letter, signed by 29 Democratic Senators, says:

“Contrary to some claims, Social Security is not the cause of our nation’s deficit problem.  Not only does the program operate independently, but it is prohibited from borrowing.  Social Security must pay all benefits from its own trust fund.  If there are insufficient funds to pay out full benefits, benefits are automatically reduced to the level supported by the program’s own revenues.  Social Security cannot drive up the deficit by tapping general revenues to pay benefits. To be sure, Social Security has its own long-term challenges that will need to be addressed in the decades ahead. But the budget and Social Security are separate, and should be considered separately.”

The vast majority of American’s couldn’t agree more.  However, we have to wonder why only 29 signatures on this letter?  Where are the others?

So who didn’t sign? Max Baucus, Michael Bennet, Jeff Bingaman, Tom Carper, Bob Casey, Kent Conrad, Chris Coons, Dick Durbin, Dianne Feinstein, Kay Hagan, John Kerry, Amy Klobuchar, Herb Kohl, Mary Landrieu, Joe Lieberman, Claire McCaskill, Ben Nelson, Bill Nelson, Mark Pryor, Jeanne Shaheen, Jon Tester, Mark Udall, Mark Warner, Jim Webb.

A number of these members are retiring so it’s also important to factor in their replacements and where these new Senators stand on cutting Social Security benefits to reduce the deficit.  We recommend you read David Dayen’s breakdown of some of the other missing signees and what it could mean for Social Security.