In a speech on the Senate floor, and in television interviews, Warren recently declared, “The era of fighting about cutting Social Security is over, and now it is time to talk about expanding Social Security.”
According to MoveOn.org, “Our progressive champ (Warren) isn’t alone — more than 150,000 MoveOn members have already backed Senate and House plans for increasing Social Security benefits, not cutting them.”
MoveOn.org credits the “expansion movement” for taking Social Security benefit cuts “off the table.”
To the dismay of many liberals, President Obama repeatedly has called for a “balanced mix” of more spending cuts (including reductions in Social Security’s cost-of-living increases) and more tax reform.
As early as April 2009, the president expressed concern about Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, which “get more and more expensive every year.” He said at the time that “fiscal discipline” requires a “serious” approach to entitlement reform.
In February of this year, Obama said his preference for deficit reduction is to do it “in a balanced, comprehensive way, by making sensible changes to entitlement programs and reforming our tax code.” White House spokesman Jay Carney, also speaking in February, said president Obama’s idea of “compromise” with Republicans includes “deficit reduction through entitlement reforms.”
Specifically, in his 2014 budget proposal, Obama proposed changing the way cost-of-living adjustments are made to Social Security. By using a formula called “chained CPI” (a slower rate of inflation), those inflation adjustments would be reduced.
But many Democrats, including Warren and MoveOn.org, strongly object:
“[T]o ensure that Social Security isn’t slashed at the last minute, we’ve got to double down and get every Democratic senator on the record in support of expanding Social Security benefits,” MoveOn.org said on Wednesday. The grassroots group is urging liberals to call various Democratic Senators, including the two in Virginia, to co-sponsor the Strengthening Social Security Act of 2013.
Notably, in his speech yesterday on economic mobility, Obama did not call for entitlement reform. In fact, he said that without Social Security, “nearly half of seniors would be living in poverty.” He also said the nation must “do more to encourage private savings and shore up the promise of Social Security for future generations.”
According to the Social Security and Medicare Boards of Trustees, neither Medicare nor Social Security can be fully sustained in the long-run under currently scheduled financing without legislative changes.
Together, Social Security and Medicare accounted for 38 percent of federal expenditures in fiscal year 2012, and both programs will experience cost growth substantially in excess of GDP growth through the mid-2030s as an increasing number of baby boomers retire and fewer young people enter the workforce.