Entries in Social Security (25)


Presidential Candidate Rep. Thaddeus McCotter Unveils Social Security Fix

Office of Congressman Thad McCotter(WASHINGTON) -- While he’s buried deep in the polls, and he’s not even invited to participate in the Republican presidential debate Monday night in Tampa, Fla., Rep. Thaddeus McCotter, R-Mich., laid out a bill he says “will help save Social Security for future generations” by creating personal savings accounts for the endangered entitlement program.
McCotter told reporters his plan “will not rely upon privatization, it will not rely upon raising the benefit age, it will not rely upon raising the payroll tax, and it will not rely up on cutting benefits.”

“The key to this proposal is to think of it as individuals refinance their houses,” McCotter continued. “What you do in a family budget -- if you find existing savings and you use it to leverage a reduction in long-term debt and spending. That is the logic behind this bill.”
McCotter, whose support for the Republican nomination sits around one percent, says his plan achieves solvency through the “voluntary” creation of personal savings accounts for workers 50 or younger. He says his proposals differ from a plan proposed by then-President George W. Bush because his legislation does not divert the payroll tax.

“What's good about this is that as the benefit goes in every month you're still reducing the long-term liability regardless of whether the market performs,” he said.

When asked about Texas Governor Rick Perry’s description of Social Security as a Ponzi scheme, McCotter said that regardless of the label, it’s evident the entitlement program is headed for trouble and in need of a makeover.
“The question is whether you're bickering about what to term it or working to solve it,” McCotter said. “This is an attempt to solve it.”
While he has not spoken to House Speaker John Boehner or Majority Leader Eric Cantor about his newly introduced legislation, McCotter said he is confident his colleagues will be open to it, and he welcomed support and input from anyone who has it.
“I think they'll be very receptive to it -- I haven't bothered with them until we had it ready for them. They're very busy people. I think that they'll be for it,” McCotter said. “In the final analysis, I work with them. I do not work for them.”
McCotter’s campaign for the GOP nomination has not gained much momentum since he launched his bid following two other higher-profile House Republicans -- Reps. Michele Bachmann and Ron Paul.

“The highly centralized, bureaucratic welfare state is imploding, this is an attempt to ensure that we have sustainable and strengthened safety nets in this country for those who are less fortunate,” McCotter said of his vision for the future. “It also moves forward into restructuring big government into citizen-driven government for the 21st century.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Perry Tones Down Social Security Language Before Presidential Debate

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Texas Gov. Rick Perry toned down his language on Social Security Monday, deviating from the harsh rhetoric that has fueled criticism from his Republican opponents as they gear up for the second presidential debate in less than a week.

In an op-ed for USA Today, Perry replaced the term “Ponzi scheme” with descriptions of the entitlement program’s “financial condition.”

“I am going to be honest with the American people,” he wrote. “Our elected leaders must have the strength to speak frankly about entitlement reform if we are to right our nation’s financial course and get the USA working again. For too long, politicians have been afraid to speak honestly about Social Security. We must have the guts to talk about its financial condition if we are to fix Social Security and make it financially viable for generations to come.”

At last week’s Republican presidential debate, Perry stuck to claims he voiced about Social Security in his book Fed Up! and that he has reiterated while on the campaign trail.

“It is a Ponzi scheme to tell our kids that are 25 or 30 years old today, you’re paying into a program that’s going to be there,” Perry said Wednesday night at the debate in California. ”Anybody that’s for the status quo with Social Security today is involved with a monstrous lie to our kids, and it’s not right.”

But missing so far from Perry’s discussion is any indication about how he would fix the Social Security program.  While the Texas governor has been quick to criticize the entitlement program, he has not offered any plan for repairing it.

Reporters caught up with Perry outside a Palo Alto, Calif., fundraiser Friday, asking him what he would do to fix Social Security. He offered little guidance on how he would do so.

“I think you can push back the age of which you get in it,” Perry said.  “Where do you start it? Is it 40? Is it 45? Somewhere in there. But don’t tell our kids who are 30 years old out there working that keep paying into this system and it’ll be there for you.”

It was unclear what the Texas governor meant by “start it” at 40 or 45. When asked to clarify his statement,  a Perry spokesman would only point to the ongoing discussions the governor is holding to assess how best to change the program.

“The governor continues to talk about the problem with Social Security and the fact that young Americans will not have the benefits unless the issue is addressed,” spokesman Mark Miner said. “He is continuing to talk about the issue and engage in a healthy public debate on the best ways to fix the problem.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


With Social Security on the Table, Obama Draws Progressives' Ire

Comstock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama has done what some members of his liberal base have considered the unthinkable, and now he’ll have to face their outrage.

Obama signaled at his press conference Monday that changes to Social Security could be a bargaining chip in a deficit reduction deal with Republicans -- something many Democrats have staunchly opposed.

“The reason to do Social Security is to strengthen Social Security to make sure that those benefits are there for seniors in the out-years,” Obama said. “And the reason to include that potentially in this package is if you’re going to take a bunch of tough votes, you might as well do it now, as opposed to trying to muster up the political will to get something done further down in the future.”

While Social Security is not a major contributor to the nation’s deficit, Obama suggested changes to the program could also reap some budgetary savings, possibly through changes to the eligibility age or the formula by which payments are calculated.  Any reconfiguration of the program would likely alter benefits for some future or current retirees.

The comments drew a sharp rebuke from some progressive activists, many of whom supported Obama in 2008.

“Seriously??? Why is a Democratic president going out of his way to help Republicans cut Social Security??? That's just wrong,” the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, a liberal PAC with more than 700,000 members, said in a message to supporters.

The group is amassing signatures on a pledge that it plans to present to the Obama campaign, threatening to withhold support during the 2012 campaign. So far, more than 160,000 have signed, according to the PCCC.

The pledge reads: “President Obama: If you cut Social Security, Medicare, or Medicaid benefits for me, my family, or families like mine, don't ask for a penny of my money or an hour of my time in 2012. I'm going to focus on electing bold progressive candidates who will fight to protect our Democratic legacy."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Obama to Meet with Pelosi at White House

The White House/Pete Souza(WASHINGTON) -- After drawing a line in the sand Thursday and publicly rejecting entitlement cuts as part of a deficit deal, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi will meet privately with President Obama at the White House on Friday.

Pelosi, one of the eight congressional leaders in the debt negotiations, made it clear after Thursday’s White House meeting with the president that House Democrats “do not support cuts in benefits for Social Security and Medicare.”

“Any discussion of Medicare or Social Security should be on its own table,” she said. “You want to take a look at social security?  Then look at it on its own table.  But do not consider Social Security a piggy bank for giving tax cuts to the wealthiest people in our country.  We are not going to be balance the budget on the backs of America’s seniors, women [and] people with disabilities.”

The president said Thursday’s meeting was “constructive” but that there would be “pain involved politically on all sides” in order to slash trillions and raise the nation’s $14.3 trillion debt ceiling by Aug. 2.

“Our biggest obligation is to make sure that we’re doing the right thing by the American people, creating an environment in which we can grow the economy and make sure that more and more people are being put back to work,” Obama said.

Later Friday morning, the president will continue the discussion over a balanced approach to deficit reduction in four television interviews.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Pelosi: Dems Won't Support Cuts to Social Security or Medicare Benefits

JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- After meeting with the president and congressional leadership at the White House earlier Thursday, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said that House Democrats “are not supporting any cuts in benefits for Social Security or Medicare” and that any savings potentially gained from entitlement reform should be used to make the programs stronger.

“We do not support cuts in benefits for Social Security and Medicare. Any discussion of Medicare or Social Security should be on its own table,” Pelosi, D-Calif., said. “You want to take a look at Social Security then look at it on its own table, but do not consider Social Security a piggy bank for giving tax cuts to the wealthiest people in our country.”

Pelosi, who called the meeting “very constructive and productive,” did not rule out Medicare reform as part of an eventual deal to increase the debt limit as long as the changes do not reduce benefits -- telling reporters that her goal “is to have a balanced bipartisan agreement to reduce the deficit without doing harm to the economy.”

“It’s very important that we remove all doubt in anyone’s mind that we will not default on past debt,” Pelosi said. “This isn’t about leaving room for future spending. That’s not what this is about. It’s about paying past debt.”

Pelosi is scheduled to meet with the president one-on-one Friday at 10 a.m. at the White House.

Asked whether she agreed with House Speaker John Boehner that a deal could possibly be reached in the next 48 hours, Pelosi signaled she was also optimistic both sides could soon come to an agreement.

“I’m glad to hear that [Boehner] said that,” Pelosi said. “I certainly hope so.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Sen. Dick Durbin: Social Security Cuts Should Not Be Ruled Out

ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., says the bi-partisan group of senators working to find a way to reduce the deficit -- the so-called "Gang of Six" -- is near agreement on a plan that will chart a middle ground between the House Republican budget and the plan outlined last week by President Obama.

And while other top Democrats say Social Security should be untouched, Durbin says Social Security changes should be made now.

"You have the House Republican budget from Congressman Paul Ryan, who I know and like, which is going to be placed somewhere on the right side of the spectrum. You have the president's suggestion, which will be on the other side of the spectrum.  And if and when we reach an agreement, it will be in the middle, a bipartisan effort, which I think has a chance to succeed," Durbin said in an interview with ABC News.

He expects the Gang of Six -- which, in addition to Durbin, includes Senators Tom Coburn, R-Okla.; Mike Crapo, R-Idaho; Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga.; Mark Warner, D-Va.; and Kent Conrad, D-N.D. -- to agree on a plan shortly after Congress returns from its Easter recess.

"We're very, very close," Durbin said.  "And there's a sense of urgency.  Our relevance is going to be hooked to our timeliness.  If we wait too long, we may not be players.  And a lot of people are counting on us to be players."

Durbin criticized a resolution put forward by Sen. Bernie Sanders, a liberal independent from Vermont, that says Social Security should not be cut under a deficit reduction plan.  Durbin said he would not vote for such a resolution.

"I think Bernie is going too far with his language," Durbin said.

"In 2037, as we know it, Social Security falls off a cliff," he said.  "There's a 22 percent reduction rate in payments, which is really not something we can tolerate.  If we deal with it today, it's an easier solution than waiting.  I think we ought to deal with it.  Many of my colleagues disagree, put it off to another day.  But from my point of view, leaving it out makes it easier politically, including it, I think, meets an obligation, which we have to senior citizens."

One specific change Durbin said should be considered right now is reducing Social Security benefits to the wealthy.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Rick Santorum Blames Social Security Problems on 'Abortion Culture'

Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Legal abortion is the real reason why Social Security is going bankrupt.

Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, who may seek the GOP nomination for president in 2012, made that charge Tuesday.

Santorum, an ardent abortion foe and one of the most socially conservative Republicans mentioned as a White House hopeful, said, "we don't have enough workers to support the retirees.  Well, a third of all the young people in America are not in America today because of abortion." 

He claimed that all the abortions performed since 1973 when the procedure was legalized by the Supreme Court, has led to not enough children being born, children he says would have grown up and gotten jobs and thereby paid taxes to support the entitlement program.

Denouncing the "abortion culture," Santorum suggested you can't blame him and his wife for the problem because, "We have seven children, so we're doing our part to fund the Social Security system."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Sen. Blumenthal: Leave Social Security Alone; Fight Waste, Fraud

ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., says when it comes to balancing the budget, you better not touch Social Security.

"I believe that we should not be balancing the budget on the backs of people who are most vulnerable and who need government assistance most," Blumenthal told ABC News.  "I think that we will need to address Social Security if the current trends continue sometime after the next ten years or so but not as part of dealing with the deficit."

While cutting Social Security long has been seen as politically perilous, a new ABC News/Washington Post poll shows the tide may turning.  Forty-six percent of those surveyed support trimming early-retirement benefits, up 10 points from six years ago; and 42 percent favor raising the retirement age for full benefits from 67 to 68 -- up nine points from 2005.

Blumenthal, however, thinks Social Security is fine as it is.

"Social Security will be solvent between now and the year 2037 and if we are embroiled in trying to cut Social Security while balancing the budget, we will do neither," the Connecticut Democrat told ABC News.

Despite widespread criticism of President Obama for not addressing entitlement reform in his recent budget proposal, Blumenthal expressed confidence that Obama would begin leading the conversation about cutting the deficit soon.

"[The president] has set down a marker," Blumenthal said.  "He has provided a beginning for reducing our debt and our deficit, and I'm certainly going to be advocating for even stronger measures."

The stronger measures Blumenthal speaks of involve combating waste, fraud and abuse in Medicare.

"Look, I pursued waste and fraud in Medicare over 10 years as attorney general," Blumenthal said of his tenure in Connecticut.  "What we have won back from waste and fraud is just the tip of the iceberg, just a drop in the bucket.  And I think there are hundreds of millions of dollars, maybe a trillion, in waste and fraud in Medicare that we can recover."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


State Budgets vs. Social Security: What's the Real Third Rail?

Comstock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- While Social Security long has been seen as the deadly third rail of American politics, an ABC News/Washington Post poll finds that state budgets may in fact pose the greater hazard to axe-wielding lawmakers.

Beyond freezing pay and trimming pensions for new hires, state governments have little leeway in terms of public support for cost-cutting measures.  Sizable majorities of Americans -- six in 10 or more -- reject 10 out of 12 state deficit-cutting approaches tested in this poll.  The choices are so poor that raising or enacting taxes, while far from popular, are among the less unpopular options.

Reducing union bargaining rights -- the Wisconsin approach -- doesn't look like a popular solution either.  Sixty-seven percent of respondents in the poll, produced for ABC News by Langer Research Associates, say workers employed by state governments should have a right to form unions to negotiate their working conditions, pay, benefits and pensions.  More, 81 percent, say all workers in general should have that right.

Perhaps surprisingly, there may be a little more wiggle room for lawmakers in Washington eyeing Social Security.  Despite the system's "touch it and die" reputation, one option gets narrow majority support -- lifting the cap on the amount of income that's taxed to fund benefits.  And two others -- reducing early retirement benefits and slowing the rate of growth in benefits -- approach a split decision.

One impetus could be the sense of risk: eighty-one percent of Americans see a crisis ahead for Social Security if changes aren't made, up 10 points from six years ago.  And more than half now favor "major" changes to keep the system secure.  Given those shifts, support for proposed changes to Social Security has gained in several cases, even when it still falls short of a majority. 

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Social Security Commissioner Warns of Painful Cuts

Comstock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Elderly Americans would suffer considerably under proposed Social Security Administration budget cuts outlined in House Republicans' continuing resolution, the head of the agency warned Wednesday as budget-related disputes continue to flare on Capitol Hill.

The House GOP budget proposal that would fund the government for the rest of the fiscal year yanks $125 million from the SSA's current levels and $500 million from the reserve fund.

The cuts could cost 3,500 employees their jobs, affecting the quality and quantity of services to Americans, SSA Commissioner Michael J. Astrue testified in Washington.

"I regret we may not be able to keep our commitment to the American people because we don't have the necessary support to move forward," Astrue said Wednesday at a Senate subcommittee hearing. "We cannot meet our stewardship duties unless Congress provides us the funds to do the job."

Democrats who are against the cuts echoed his concern.

"Social Security is the centerpiece of America's social safety net," said Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa. "Delaying basic services isn't just bad for the economy, it's devastating to the most vulnerable citizens who depend on them."

Concerns about the burgeoning budget deficit and its long-term implications have brought new scrutiny to entitlement programs such Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.

Economists and experts agree that Social Security needs to be fixed immediately to keep future generations from losing out on an important benefit. But neither President Obama nor members of Congress has put forth any concrete proposals.

The president has acknowledged the need to overhaul entitlement programs and says he welcomes proposals, but Republicans argue that Obama should take the lead.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio