Obama outlines principles for future of Social Security in budget, sure to spark contention with Hill Republicans

Amanda Carey Contributor
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In his 2012 budget proposal, published Monday morning, President Obama takes a solid stance on Social Security — one likely to disappoint congressional Republicans. Instead of taking a hard line on reforming the entitlement program, the administration proposes “strengthening” it to meet growing demand.

The president’s budget acknowledges that baby boomers will put “stress on the Social Security System,” but says the program “does not face an immediate crisis and is not driving our short-term deficits or long-term debt.”

Referencing the bipartisanship spirit of Republican President Ronald Reagan and Democratic Speaker of the House Tip O’Neill, the budget calls on Congress to look for ways to make the program stronger and more reliable

In his proposal, Obama outlines six principles for reform. He calls for a plan that ensures long-term solvency and opposes any proposal that seeks to privatize or weaken the system or slashes benefits for future generations. He says no plan should reduce benefits for current recipients.

The principles call on Congress to strengthen retirement security for low-income individuals, and maintain disability and survivor’s benefits.

The Obama administration’s approach to Social Security comes at a time when most Republicans are demanding swift reforms to reduce the program’s impact on the federal deficit, which currently stands at $14 trillion.

“Social Security and Medicare together are amassing unfunded obligations at the alarming rate of $6.5 trillion a year,” wrote Republican Representative John Culberson of Texas Monday.

“The dramatic increase in the number of Social Security and Medicare beneficiaries coupled with the simultaneous decline in the number of workers paying into Social Security, not to mention the high unemployment rate, keeps money flowing out of the depleted Social Security Trust Fund. The path we’re on is simply unsustainable.”

Obama’s Six Principles for Social Security:

1.  Any reform should strengthen Social Security for future generations and restore long-term solvency.

2.  The Administration will oppose any measures that privatize or weaken the Social Security system.

3.  While all measures to strengthen solvency should be on the table, the Administration will not accept an approach that slashes benefits for future generations.

4. No current beneficiaries should see their basic benefits reduced.

5. Reform should strengthen retirement security for the most vulnerable, including low-income seniors.

6. Reform should maintain robust disability and survivors’ benefits.