Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus Tuesday said he doesn't want changes to Social Security as part of any current deficit reduction effort.
Negotiators from both parties plan to meet later Tuesday with Vice President Joe Biden to discuss ways to raise the debt limit while cutting spending. Most congressional leaders have said they want virtually everything up for discussion.
Baucus, D-Mont., thought otherwise.
"Social Security benefits are financed only through payroll taxes and the Trust Fund. Social Security is not responsible for the deficits we face in the general fund today. Therefore, I believe Social Security should not be part of our efforts to reduce those deficits," he said.
"What we can’t forget in this debate is that Social Security benefits are modest. Ninety-five percent of retired workers receive monthly benefits of less than $2,000. In fact, the average Social Security benefit for retirees is $1,175 a month, or about $14,100 a year. That’s only $267 a month above the poverty line.
"Not only are benefits modest, but they are already scheduled to be reduced," he said. "The full retirement age, which is currently 66, will rise to 67 in the coming years. These increases in retirement age have real consequences. A one-year increase in the retirement age is roughly equal to a seven-percent reduction in benefits.
"By law, Social Security must remain separated from the rest of the Federal budget and the program cannot borrow money from the general Federal budget."