[Please Note: AARP DEBATE TONIGHT – 8:00 P.M. ET, 7:00 CST. We’ll be blogging the debate. Hillary will be on several talk shows this Sunday morning. Right now we know of Meet the Press and Fox News Sunday, with Chris Wallace. Does Hillary ever sleep?]
Today the Quad-City Times notes that Obama will be at a fundraiser in Atlanta (with Usher and Dominique Wilkins) instead of at tonight’s forum The forum will also discuss important issues which have been on the back burner so far. Should the Social Security retirement age be raised for white-collar office workers (who have relatively “easy” jobs) and blue-collar workers (such as mine workers who have their bodies broken by years of hard work at early ages)? We won’t get an answer from Obama – he’s busy raising more money.
AARP scheduled this forum to elevate some issues that haven’t gotten top billing in this caucus campaign: health care and financial security. Remember Social Security? Four years ago, these pages were filled with letters and columns demanding immediate change to save this teetering entitlement. When the president’s plan to privatize a portion of it failed, the entire issue seemed to disappear.
The attempt to destroy Social Security was THE big Bush agenda item for his second term. The failure to pass schemes which were Trojan horses meant to destroy Social Security effectively destroyed the Bush government immediately after it had supposedly won re-election. Karl Rove pushed for the privatization schemes and the other ploys such as “personal” accounts (which were politically meant to shift resources from public program Social Security into “personal” accounts, none of which actually did what they were advertised to do – because the real aim was the destruction of the Democratic and successful New Deal and Social Security). Democrats understood the real purpose behind the Bush proposals and opposed them effectively and in unity. TPM on privatization:
This is all another way of saying that the Democrats do have an alternative on the table: preserving Social Security rather than phasing it out. (Once again, let me say that in a later post I’ll discuss why our values are only honored by a system like Social Security.) Democrats already have and will continue to propose adjustments to the system to handle potential shortfalls which are decades in the future. But this debate — for anyone who understands it, indeed even the White House now concedes the point — is not about solvency. And the fact that Kristoff does not grasp that point is not their problem, though his confusing the two issues certainly complicates preserving the program.
Obama has problems with Social Security and the issues surrounding financial security. Perhaps that is why Obama is missing tonight’s forum – because Obama does not want to answer questions before a very knowledgeable audience and side by side with his Democratic opponents.
Instead of debating his opponents in front of the national media and a very knowlegeable audience of seniors Obama is leveraging his big money purse to buy ads speaking about financial and Social Security and health care with ad buys instead of speaking to voters impacted by these issues, or as he derides them “special interest voters”. Obama is supposedly writing an op-ed article for publication on Friday to discuss Social Security and hosting his own “Senior Town Hall” in Ames on Friday.
“Just seven years ago we had a balanced budget and a surplus and we had a plan to ensure Social Security’s solvency until 2055,” the presidential contender and former first lady told thousands of senior citizens attending an AARP lifestyles forum. “Now we have been set back, by endless deficits.”
To groans from the audience, Clinton added: “You know, right now we’ve basically funded the two big priorities of the administration – tax cuts for the wealthiest and the Iraq war – from two sources,” the Social Security trust fund and borrowers such as China.
“I do not think that those are policies that will make America strong again, and I reject them,” she said.
Clinton, now a New York senator, jabbed at rival Barack Obama. She suggested the Illinois senator is wrong for considering raising the retirement age or payroll tax rates to help ensure Social Security’s long-term solvency. Clinton favors improving the national economy to avoid any more trust fund withdrawals.
“Putting everything on the table is not the right answer,” Clinton said. “Raising the retirement age is not an answer. Cutting benefits is not an answer. We need to get back to the fiscal responsibility that we had in the 1990s, when we weren’t draining the Social Security fund any more.”
On July 23, 2007 in an article called CNN/Youtube Debate – Desperate Househusbands Vs. Hillary Clinton we wrote:
Obama is going to have some explaining to do on his social security answer as well as his “meet the dictators” answer. Obama has as one of his advisers Jeffrey Liebman (we’ll have to have a bigger post on Obama/Liebman at some later date).
We have not forgotten that promise. We will be discussing Jeffrey Liebman (a top Obama advisor who co-wrote a “personal” accounts plan with John McCain advisor Maya MacGuineas and Obama’s positions on Social Security and the Trojan horse of “personal” accounts as well as Obama’s promise to “put everything on the table”, regarding Social Security.
Let’s understand, Obama is afraid of being confronted on Social Security. Tonight’s AARP debate will not take place before a Naderite crew of bobby-soxers in love with an airbrushed poster of a candidate. Obama is afraid of being called out by Hillary before a very sharp audience in a televised forum.
Hillary offered what was a pretty rare shot at one of her rivals speaking to the AARP convention in Boston this afternoon, on an issue that doesn’t get lots of media buzz these days but matters a lot to, among others, the aging Iowa caucus goers.
“I’m going to make putting Social Security on a sound track one of my highest priorities. I’ll tell you, putting everything on the table is not an answer. Raising the retirement age is not an answer. Cutting benefits is not an answer. We need to get back to the fiscal responsibility that we had in the 1990s so we’re not draining the Social Security trust fund anymore.”
That “putting everything on the table” line is a reference to Obama’s May statement, in an interview with George Stephanopolous (after the jump), that “everything should be on the table” when it comes to reforming Social Security, including raising the retirement age and raising payroll taxes.