President Obama used the anniversary of Social Security to trumpet Democrats’ support for the program and accuse Republicans of trying to destroy it.
Seventy-five years after President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Social Security into law, Obama said yesterday in his weekly radio and Internet address: “We have an obligation to keep that promise, to safeguard Social Security for our seniors, people with disabilities, and all Americans, today, tomorrow, and forever.’’
Some Republican leaders in Congress are “pushing to make privatizing Social Security a key part of their legislative agenda if they win a majority in Congress this fall,’’ Obama said.
He contended that privatization was “an ill-conceived idea that would add trillions of dollars to our budget deficit while tying your benefits to the whims of Wall Street traders and the ups and downs of the stock market.’’
Most Republicans are wary of touching that idea, because Social Security is virtually sacrosanct to voters, particularly seniors, but Democrats have been able to seize on the issue because of a proposal by Representative Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, the top Republican on the House Budget Committee, that would allow younger people to put Social Security money into personal accounts.
Ryan’s idea, which is similar to a proposal by President George W. Bush, has not been endorsed by party leaders and has attracted only a few GOP cosponsors.
Obama said he is “committed to working with anyone, Democrat or Republican, who wants to strengthen Social Security.’’
He offered no ideas for doing that, but he has created a bipartisan commission to come up with some recommendations by December.
“Democrats made an impossible mess out of health care and cut a half-trillion from Medicare, so I don’t know whether the commission will come up with anything on health care or not,’’ Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky said.
“I am deeply concerned about the direction we’re heading in right now,’’ said former representative Pat Toomey, speaking for the GOP. “That direction is being driven by extreme policies that are coming from one-party domination of government in Washington. . . . It’s time we put some real checks and balances back in place this November.’’
Toomey, the GOP Senate nominee in Pennsylvania, said economic stimulus legislation has failed to cut unemployment rates. “They leave us with a weak economy without job growth and with a mountain of debt for our kids,’’ he said.