Two leading Democrats called Sunday for Social Security reforms to be off the table as Congress jousts over billions of dollars in spending cuts this year.
Sen. Charles SchumerCharles SchumerSchumer: 'Good for country' if Trump punts on border wall fight GOP senator: There will never be full U.S.-Mexico border wall GOP fundraiser enters crowded primary for Pa. Senate seat MORE (D-N.Y.) and Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) both used the Sunday talk-show circuit to reiterate their support for the popular seniors benefit, arguing that it has no effect on the immediate deficit problems facing the country.
"Social Security … does not contribute one penny to the deficit, and won't until 2037," Schumer said on CNN's "State of the Union." "By including it in these specific negotiations it makes it harder to deal with what is the immediate and dangerous problem, which is our immediate deficit over this year and the next several years.
"Because Social Security doesn't contribute to the debt," he added, "it makes sense to separate the two."
Van Hollen echoed that message on CBS's "Face the Nation."
"Social Security is not a driver of these deficits and debt," Van Hollen said, "and we're not going to balance the budget on the backs of Social Security beneficiaries.
"It is solvent — 100 percent — until the year 2037," he said.
The latest report from the Social Security trustees backs those claims. Although Social Security payouts are expected to exceed the program's tax receipts this year, the program is projected to be fully solvent until 2037, the trustees reported in 2010. After 2037, the trust fund will be sufficient to pay 75 percent of benefits until 2085, the trustees said.
Congress will need to come together in search of ways to close the 25 percent gap, the Democrats concede, but those efforts shouldn't be included in the immediate debate over 2011 funding.
Democratic leaders — notably Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry ReidWeek ahead: House to revive Yucca Mountain fight Warren builds her brand with 2020 down the road 'Tuesday Group' turncoats must use recess to regroup on ObamaCare MORE (D-Nev.) — have already vowed that Social Security cuts won't be considered as lawmakers grapple with ways to fund the government through the remainder of the year. But many Republicans have criticized the Democrats — particularly President Obama — for focusing on discretionary spending without tackling Social Security.
Last year, the White House deficit commission proposed a series of Social Security reforms, including a gradual increase of the retirement age and smaller annual increases for current beneficiaries. Both changes have been assailed by liberals on and off Capitol Hill.
More recently, a bipartisan group of six senators has launched talks about how to get the nation's spending under control. The group — which includes lawmakers as ideologically diverse as Sens. Dick DurbinDick DurbinTop Trump officials push border wall as government shutdown looms Top Dem: Shutdown over border wall would be 'height of irresponsibility' Sunday shows preview: Trump stares down 100-day mark MORE (D-Ill.) and Tom CoburnTom CoburnFreedom Caucus saved Paul Ryan's job: GOP has promises to keep Don't be fooled: Carper and Norton don't fight for DC Coburn: Trump's tweets aren't presidential MORE (R-Okla.) — is necessarily focusing intently on entitlement programs, including Social Security.
Last week, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) vowed that any Social Security reforms would focus on ensuring the long-term solvency of the program.
“Whatever we do for Social Security is not about reducing the deficit, it is about strengthening Social Security — the solvency of Social Security," she said. "Those are two separate, different questions."