Extremely Disappointing Language from Obama on Social Security
by Jonathan Singer, Fri Nov 09, 2007 at 02:39:43 AM EST
Barack Obama sounding better on Social Security during the MSNBC presidential debate late last month.
I absolutely agree that Social Security is not in crisis.
Barack Obama sounding a lot worse during an interview with National Journal from Tuesday posted yesterday on the magazine's website.
Q: So, welcome to Senator Barack Obama. Welcome to "National Journal On Air." Let me start right away by asking you about the contrasts that you are drawing between yourself and Hillary Clinton. Her campaign people, the people who support her, say by calling her somebody whose word can't be trusted, by suggesting that she's disingenuous, that that's really a character attack -- that that's the very thing that you said you weren't going to do in this campaign.
Obama: Well, I strongly disagree. Look we are offering our plans for the future on health care, on education, on energy, and the American people have a right to judge how clear and how consistent have the candidates been in their positions. Because if they're not clear and consistent, then it's pretty hard to gage how much they're going to fight on these issues. You know, Senator Clinton says that she's concerned about Social Security but is not willing to say how she would solve the Social Security crisis, then I think voters aren't going to feel real confident that this is a priority for her. And that's the kind of leadership I think that the Democratic Party has to offer in the years to come. [emphasis added]
"Social Security crisis." For those who weren't politically engaged in early 2005, those three words might not be terribly meaningful. But for the folks who fought tooth and nail to ensure that the Social Security program was not dismantled by President Bush and his Republican lackeys on Capitol Hill those three words come off like a dog whistle, because paramount to the conservative effort to kill FDR's great gift to American society was the attempted propagation of the myth that the Social Security system was in crisis -- a myth that has no basis in reality.
Social Security can pay full benefits as promised until 2042 according to this year's Social Security trustees report (or 2052 if you use projections from the Congressional Budget Office). Thereafter it will be able to pay about 75 percent to 80 percent of promised benefits.
Even if benefits were cut to 75 percent of what's promised, that reduced level would still be more than what today's retirees get, [the Center for Economic and Policy Research's Mark] Weisbrot said.
For example, according to CBO estimates, a person born in 1940 would get about $13,300 in their first year of retirement, while someone born in 1990 would get $16,700 -- in today's dollars.
Atrios explains why this stuff matters:
So, anyway, having someone suggest that Social Security is a problem which needs to be dealt with by any serious candidate is like the bat signal for people like me. There is no problem with Social Security. None at all. Whatever broader fiscal time bombs exist have absolutely nothing to do with Social Security. Once you get Fred Hiatt and the gang opining about the need fix that Social Security problem, you've increased the likelihood of something very bad happening.
Listening to Obama this week, it almost makes you think that he wasn't around in early 2005 when progressives had to fight back George W. Bush's efforts to partially privatize Social Security. It certainly leaves the impression that he just doesn't get it on Social Security. I don't know what to say aside from that this is just really disappointing stuff from Obama. Really disappointing.