Last week, Time‘s Mark Halperin asked Obama campaign senior adviser David Axelrod for specifics on President Barack Obama’s plan for Social Security in a second term. “Mark, I’ll tell you what. When you get elected to the United States Senate and sit at that table – this is not the time. We’re not going to have that discussion right now unless the Congress wants to sit at a table and say, ‘OK, we’re ready to move on a balanced approach to this.
“The reality to Social Security is this is a much less imminent problem than Medicare. We’ve extended the life of Medicare by close to a decade with the changes that Governor Romney wants to repeal. But social security a more distant problem. One that needs a solution, but it isn’t as pressing as the Medicare issue.”
Still, despite a lack of specifics, there are some distinct differences between the two candidates on resolving the entitlement program’s main problem: The Social Security Administration projects that Social Security will deplete its trust fund in 2033. After that, retirees would only receive 75 per cent of promised benefits without any current changes to the system.
Obama’s plan for Social Security on his campaign website is limited to one paragraph:
“President Obama is committed to protecting and strengthening Social Security for future generations, without putting current retirees at risk. He won’t accept reform that slashes benefits for future generations or turns Social Security over to Wall Street.”
Two weeks ago while speaking via satellite to the AARP convention in Virginia, Obama revived a 2008 campaign proposal to have workers pay Social Security taxes on up to $250,000 of income. Currently, only the first $110,000 of income is taxed.
“I do think that looking at changing the cap is an important aspect of putting Social Security on a more stable footing,” he said in response to a question. “And what I’ve said is that I’m willing to work with Republicans and examine all their ideas, but what I’m not going to do as a matter of principle is to slash benefits or privatize Social Security and suddenly turn it over to Wall Street.”
There’s no evidence, however, that Romney wants to “privatize” Social Security. On his campaign website, he offers a couple “commonsense” solutions that he says will solve the problem:
- First, for future generations of seniors, Mitt believes that the retirement age should be slowly increased to account for increases in longevity.
- Second, for future generations of seniors, Mitt believes that benefits should continue to grow but that the growth rate should be lower for those with higher incomes.
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