Obama in 2009: Medicare and Social Security "Entitlements" Must Be Fixed

Here's President Obama just after he was elected in 2009, promising "reform" of both Medicare and Social Security.

President-elect Barack Obama pledged yesterday to shape a new Social Security and Medicare "bargain" with the American people, saying that the nation's long-term economic recovery cannot be attained unless the government finally gets control over its most costly entitlement programs.

..."What we have done is kicked this can down the road. We are now at the end of the road and are not in a position to kick it any further," he said. "We have to signal seriousness in this by making sure some of the hard decisions are made under my watch, not someone else's."

.... "Social Security, we can solve," he said, waving his left hand. "The big problem is Medicare, which is unsustainable. . . . We can't solve Medicare in isolation from the broader problems of the health-care system."


And this:

He said his administration will begin confronting the issues of entitlement reform and long-term budget deficits soon after it jump-starts job growth and the stock market.

He also told us how to measure his Presidency:

He said that creating jobs and maintaining national security will be his top priorities and added that his efforts as president should be measured by whether the nation can overcome predicted job losses in the months ahead.

What more is there to say?

< Obama's Plan: Spare Me the Tax Cuts, Give Me My Medicare | Raising Medicare Eligibility Age: Who Gets Hurt? >
  • The Online Magazine with Liberal coverage of crime-related political and injustice news

  • Contribute To TalkLeft

  • Display: Sort:
    I do believe there are problems with Medicare (5.00 / 2) (#1)
    by ruffian on Fri Sep 09, 2011 at 12:40:13 PM EST
    I just don't believe in fixing them by raising the eligibility age or cutting services. I think the whole profit-based price structure of our health care provider system is what is unsustainable, but the pols don't want to deal with that issue.

    So....why are we dealing with (5.00 / 1) (#2)
    by ruffian on Fri Sep 09, 2011 at 12:42:18 PM EST
    entitlement reform and long-term budget deficits

    BEFORE we  

    jump-starts job growth and the stock market


    Because (5.00 / 1) (#4)
    by Ga6thDem on Fri Sep 09, 2011 at 12:46:10 PM EST
    he's not a very astute politician I suppose or forgot the "Old Democratic Party" mantra of "it's the economy stupid"

    After Obama's interview (5.00 / 1) (#7)
    by MO Blue on Fri Sep 09, 2011 at 01:39:21 PM EST
    where he said

    STEPHANOPOULOS: You've also said that with Social Security, everything should be on the table.

    OBAMA: Yes.

    STEPHANOPOULOS: Raising the retirement age?

    OBAMA: Everything should be on the table.

    Obama backed off and went to raising the cap to "fix" Social Security. Has anyone heard Obama mention raising the cap anytime lately?

    2007 Democratic primary debate at Dartmouth College Sep 6, 2007

    Q: Would you raise the cap for Social Security tax above the current level of the first $97,500 worth of income?

    A: I think that lifting the cap is probably going to be the best option. Now we've got to have a process [like the one] back in 1983. We need another one. And I think I've said before everything should be on the table. My personal view is that lifting the cap is much preferable to the other options that are available. But what's critical is to recognize that there is a potential problem: young people who don't think Social Security is going to be there for them. We should be willing to do anything that will strengthen the system, to make sure that that we are being true to those who are already retired, as well as young people in the future. And we should reject things that will weaken the system, including privatization, which essentially is going to put people's retirement at the whim of the stock market.

    2007 Democratic debate at Drexel University Oct 30, 2007

    Social Security is not in crisis; it is a fundamentally sound system, but it does have a problem, long-term. We've got 78 million baby boomers, who are going to be retiring over the next couple of decades. That means more retirees, fewer workers to support those retirees. We are going to have to do something about it. The best idea is to lift the cap on the payroll tax, potentially exempting middle-class folks, but making sure that the wealthy are paying more of their fair share, a little bit more.

    Meet the Press: 2007 "Meet the Candidates" series Nov 11, 2007

    Q: You said earlier this year that everything should be on the table for Social Security, including looking at raising retirement age, indexing benefits, and then suddenly you said, "I'm taking them off the table."

    A: That's not what I said. I said I will convene a meeting as president where we discuss all of the options that are available. I believe that cutting benefits is not the right answer; and that raising the retirement age is not the best option, particularly when we've got people who are still in manufacturing.

    Q: But in May you said they would be on the table.

    A: Well, I am going to be listening to any ideas that are presented, but I think that the best way to approach this is to adjust the cap on the payroll tax so that people like myself are paying a little bit more and the people who are in need are protected. That is the option that I will be pushing forward.

    Q: But the other options would be on the table?

    A: Well, I will listen to all arguments and the best options.

    Was it the WH that floated the cap (none / 0) (#10)
    by ruffian on Fri Sep 09, 2011 at 02:30:59 PM EST
    with the donut hole a couple of weeks ago? Cap still in place at $106k - $250k, and then goes away? (Can't remember if there was another upper limit.)

    Simple solution (5.00 / 2) (#9)
    by koshembos on Fri Sep 09, 2011 at 02:02:32 PM EST
    Obama had and has no idea what he was or is talking about. He hears from the "very serious people" (Krugman's) that we have an entitlement problem, so he repeats it.

    We don't have entitlements for regular people. We do have entitlements only for the rich; they are entitled to get a lot of money from the government, which they obviously do.

    We pay for SS and Medicare; they have to make good on the contract they signed with us and pay up when the time comes. Don't ask Obama to understand that; it is way too complex for him.

    again, (5.00 / 3) (#12)
    by cpinva on Fri Sep 09, 2011 at 04:56:44 PM EST
    the democrats have allowed the republicans to set the definitional field of play: entitlements (things that we have paid for) = pejorative

    in any other area (banking, insurance, car sales), if i pay for something, it is considered wholly reasonable that i feel "entitled" to receive it. however, when it comes to the single most successful program (government or private) of all time, that i have also paid for (social security), somehow my expecting to actually receive it is considered greed.

    until such time as the democrats retake social security (and medicade/medicare) back, they are doomed as a party.

    Social Security Is My Line In The Sand With Obama (5.00 / 1) (#17)
    by john horse on Sat Sep 10, 2011 at 12:39:38 PM EST
    Before Obama proposes anything foolish regarding Social Security he might want to call Allen Boyd.
    Boyd, who was the leader of the bluedog Democrats, was the only Democratic congressman to support George Bush's privatization of social security.  Boyd is now known as former congressman Allen Boyd.  

    I don't think that those who live in the Washington bubble have any idea how important the Social Security program is, especially to Democrats.  First of all, it does not require any drastic changes because its not in that bad of shape.  Second, outside of raising the income cap, cutting benefits is political suicide.  Bush's proposal to privatize social security damaged his political popularity more than anything else he did (with the possible exception of his decision to invade Iraq).  

    Personally, this is my line in the sand regarding Obama.  If he messes with Social Security, then as far as I'm concerned he is no Democrat and will not have my support.  

    What he said about SS & Medicare in 2007 (none / 0) (#3)
    by Politalkix on Fri Sep 09, 2011 at 12:42:31 PM EST
    when he was campaigning is provided in this clip.
    In a lot of ways he is more upfront about what he wants to do compared about other politicians. I like him for this reason.

    Um,right. (5.00 / 2) (#6)
    by observed on Fri Sep 09, 2011 at 12:51:53 PM EST
    You like the fact he was openly a mouthpiece for the banking and finance sectors.
    I don't.

    He said a lot of things, ... (5.00 / 3) (#13)
    by Yman on Fri Sep 09, 2011 at 05:02:18 PM EST
    ... depending on who his audience was at the time, as well as what votes he was looking for:

    "In addition, I will allow the government to negotiate with drug companies to lower costs for seniors, and we'll allow reimportation of drugs from other countries and ensure their safety, lowering costs for all consumers." -- 9/6/08, Washington, D.C.

    Then he sold seniors out in a backroom deal with the pharmaceutical lobby.

    BTW - I love the fact that your link goes to a clip where Obama promises a "government-based (healthcare) plan" i.e. a public option. - Yet another broken promise from the "upfront" Obama.



    Obama "upfront" on SS? Heh (5.00 / 1) (#15)
    by Yman on Fri Sep 09, 2011 at 05:24:08 PM EST
    Depends on when you asked him about SS.

    However, the supposed crisis of Social Security has tripped up even our most astute liberal politicians. In May 2007, Obama accepted the premise that Social Security suffered from a mighty shortfall. Seeking to establish himself as a politician not afraid to tackle hard issues, Obama declared his support for raising the cap on income subject to Social Security taxation (currently $102,000) and chided Sen. Clinton for not doing likewise. Obama at first implied that in his administration, everything would be on the table--higher taxes, lower benefits. He later explained that he would increase taxes only on people making $250,000 or over, and that he would not reduce benefits. But Obama needlessly accepted conservative conventional wisdom, and then set a trap for himself in having to remedy a false crisis
    - Link


    Obama campaigned against raising the retirement age and cutting Social Security benefits when he ran for president in 2008. In recent weeks, however, he has stayed largely silent on the proposal to cut benefits put forth by the fiscal-responsibility commission he appointed.

    Sanders warns Obama not to agree with GOP on Social Security benefit cuts.

    Obama reiterated that he would not raise the retirement age or cut benefits for what he called "the most successful social insurance program we have."
    - October, 2007

    Yeah - Obama was "upfront" about social security.  He was "upfront" in telling his audience whatever they wanted to hear at the time.  Of course, ...

    ... some people were smart enough to notice the vague/contradictory statements and be skeptical.


    Screwing granny (3.67 / 3) (#8)
    by TeresaInSnow2 on Fri Sep 09, 2011 at 01:50:19 PM EST
    is okay as long as he's up front about it...okay...

    The link from Dec 2007 (none / 0) (#5)
    by Politalkix on Fri Sep 09, 2011 at 12:48:54 PM EST
    In your new link ... (none / 0) (#14)
    by Yman on Fri Sep 09, 2011 at 05:05:30 PM EST
    ... Obama says virtually nothing about what he would do re: social security.




    Check another Republican agenda (none / 0) (#11)
    by MO Blue on Fri Sep 09, 2011 at 04:26:34 PM EST
    item off the list. Complete collaspe of confidence in government.

    The memo goes on to assert, "Americans' attitudes about the debt ceiling are not only based on the actual outcome but are primarily derived from the manner in which this issue was debated and resolved. Their views about this process are clear, and are overwhelmingly negative." McInturff contends, "The perception of how Washington handled the debt-ceiling negotiation led to an immediate collapse of confidence in government and all the major players, including President Obama and Republicans in Congress."

    Moreover, he says, "the collapse of confidence in government has substantially eroded already weak consumer confidence. Today's consumer-confidence rating is the fourth lowest since 1952. Make no mistake: This collapse of economic confidence is not an independent event driven only by economic reality. This sharp a drop in consumer confidence is a direct consequence of the lack of confidence in our political system and its leaders."

    There was a lot of chatter during the lame duck that the President should get the debt ceiling out of the way as part of the deal. If it's been shown definitively why they didn't do that, I haven't seen it, but the speculation was that they truly believed Boehner and Co. would have to "behave" if they wanted to be taken "seriously." However, it seemed clear to me from January on, when Cantor famously said the debt ceiling was a "leverage" moment, that the administration had decided that was their opportunity to pass the Grand Bargain. The debacle that followed was, in my view, mostly a result of that quixotic desire.
    History has shown that to deal with these games of congressional chicken, particularly those that feature the toxic mix of craven politics and extremist ideology that characterizes the modern conservative movement, presidents must assert their leadership. I think this may even be a fundamental instinct --- to know when it's time to push back hard. In any case, these Republicans were already known to be lunatics, so negotiating with them as if they were responsible parties was absurd to begin with. But to do it with an eagerness to slay your own party's sacred cows was downright delusional. Once engaged, there was no way to preserve faith in the government --- the president handed all the power to the Tea Party. digby

    raising "retirement" age: (none / 0) (#16)
    by Mr Natural on Fri Sep 09, 2011 at 05:55:57 PM EST
    a "nuanced" approach to unemployment.