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Progressives Doubt Obama Will Protect Social Security From GOP

Notably silent was the Democratic official who might actually be at the table if conservatives succeed in forcing negotiations in the next Congress: President Barack Obama.
Progressives Doubt Obama Will Protect Social Security From GOP
Image from: Gage Skidmore

I think anyone who's been paying attention for the past eight years might have a clue as to Obama's default position on Social Security:

When House Republicans signaled last week that they would provoke a fight over Social Security in the next two years, progressive stalwarts like Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren decried the action, with Brown alleging the GOP wanted to "set the stage to cut benefits for seniors and disabled Americans."

But notably silent on the Republican stance, which prevents what has been a routine transfer of revenue between the retirement and disability funds, upping the chances of a crisis for the latter in late 2016, was the Democratic official who might actually be at the table if conservatives succeed in forcing negotiations in the next Congress: President Barack Obama.

TPM asked multiple times last week for the White House's position on the House action, but never received a formal response, a stark contrast to the loud public pronouncements of Brown, Warren, and others. It also invokes the uneasy relationship between the White House and Social Security advocates, who were dismayed by Obama's willingness to accept cuts to the program during the 2011 grand bargain talks with House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH).

"Advocates do not trust the president on Social Security," Monique Morrissey, an economist at the left-leaning Economic Policy Institute, told TPM last week. "If he blinks and they message this right, it could be something."

Nancy Altman, co-director of Social Security Works, told TPM that while the Obama administration "hasn't been great on this issue," she sees encouraging signs in Obama's recent appetite for confrontation on issues like immigration.

"Our hope is that he'll be that way on Social Security, too," she said. "But if you look at past history, you can't be confident that that's what will happen."


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