It was good to hear Harry Reid reiterate that he wasn't willing to use Social Security as a bargaining chip in these budget negotiations since the Obama administration seems to be split over whether they should work with Republicans to chip away at it.
When asked by Lawrence O’Donnell what he meant when he said Social Security could be improved, Reid responded:
REID: I have said clearly and as many times as I can, leave Social Security alone. Social Security does not add a single penny, not a dime, a nickel, a dollar to the budget problems we have. Never has and for the next 30 years it won’t do that.
So what I’ve said, if you want to look at something to take care of the out years, let’s do it at the right time. It is not in a crisis at this stage. Leave Social Security alone. We have a lot of other places we can look that are in crisis. Social Security is not. I repeat, for the next approximately 30 years people will draw 100% of their benefits.
And if we do nothing after that, they’ll draw 80% of their benefits. Now I want to make sure that in the out years, 30 years from now, we draw 100% of benefits. That’s important. I believe in Social Security. I think it’s the most successful social program in the history of the world. But I am not going to balance the budget on the backs of senior citizens who have paid into the fund and deserve their money.
Reid was not supportive of Bernie Sanders’ proposal to require a 2/3 vote to make any cuts to the program. That said, when O’Donnell pressed him on whether he’d support either reducing benefits or raising the retirement age, Reid stood firm that there was no reason to do that any time in the near future and said we’ve got a decade or more to revisit it if changes need to be made.
Good for him for drawing a line in the sand. That said I wish he’d would have told O'Donnell he’s open to raising the income cap to keep it solvent for the out years right now.
MSNBC has the entire unedited interview with Harry Reid at O'Donnell's site.