President Barack Obama won’t propose modifying the Social Security program when he spells out his plan to push long-term deficit reduction beyond $1.5 trillion over a decade, an aide said today.
“The president’s recommendation for deficit reduction will not include any changes to Social Security,” White House spokeswoman Amy Brundage said in an e-mailed statement, confirming an earlier report in the Wall Street Journal. She said Obama “does not believe that Social Security is a driver of our near and medium term deficits.”
The president is urging lawmakers in both parties “to work together on a parallel track to strengthen Social Security for future generations rather than taking a piecemeal approach as part of a deficit reduction plan,” Brundage said.
Obama plans to present a plan Sept. 19 for cutting billions of dollars in spending as part of long-term deficit reduction that will be taken up by a 12-member congressional committee. The panel’s mandate is to find ways to trim $1.5 trillion from projected deficits. The committee also will have to consider whether to accept Obama’s ideas, released earlier this week, for raising taxes on private equity managers, top earners and oil and gas companies to pay for his $447 billion jobs-growth package.
House Speaker John Boehner, an Ohio Republican, said in a speech today that overhauling Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid should be part of the deliberations of the bipartisan supercommittee.
In April, the president offered a “framework” of deficit reductions of $4 trillion over 12 years. That proposal exempted Social Security and called for $340 billion in Medicare and Medicaid savings by reducing their long-term growth and cutting back on Medicare’s “excessive spending on prescription drugs.”
During talks in July on raising the nation’s debt limit, the White House had indicated a willingness to consider making a change in the cost-of-living formula for Social Security that would have had the effect of reducing benefits. The negotiations fell apart, leading to action that created the supercommittee to deal with the deficit issues.
Entitlement programs -- Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid -- represent 43 percent of the federal budget and are thus targets for probable savings.
Obama said in his address to Congress Sept. 8 his deficit-reduction plan would include “modest adjustments” to Medicare and Medicaid and “reforming our tax code in a way that asks the wealthiest Americans and biggest corporations to pay their fair share.”
The president’s goal “is to get substantial deficit reduction and debt control,” White House press secretary Jay Carney said at a briefing today. “He’ll do that with a broad array of proposals.”
Medicaid is projected to grow by 6.7 percent this year, and much of the savings may come from health-care programs.