This morning on MSNBC, Obama adviser David Axelrod scoffed at the notion the president should actually have a plan to save Social Security from bankruptcy:
HALERPIN: Social Security came up last night on "60 Minutes." Let me ask you: in a second term, what is the president proposing to do to reform Social Security, save it for future generations, and will it involve lower benefits for anyone or higher taxes for anyone?
AXELROD: Well there, too, Mark, the approach has to be a balanced one. We've had discussions in the past. The question is, can you raise the cap some? Right now Social Security cuts off at a lower point. Can you raise the cap so the upper income is paying a little more into the program? Do you adjust the growth of the program? That's a discussion work having. But again, we have to approach it in a balanced way. We're not going to cut our way to prosperity. We're not going to cut our way to more secure entitlement programs. We have to have a balance.
HALERPIN: So what is his proposal?
AXELROD: Mark, i'll tell you what, when you get elected to the United States Senate and sit at the table we'll have -- this is not the time. We're not going to have the discussion right now unless the Congress wants to sit at the table and say we're ready to move on a balanced approach.
Mitt Romney has been criticized for not campaigning on specific plans for the next four years, but he's actually provided much more detailed budget plans than the president. For example, here's the Social Security section of Mitt Romney's campaign website:
- First, for future generations of seniors, Mitt believes that the retirement age should be slowly increased to account for increases in longevity.
- Second, for future generations of seniors, Mitt believes that benefits should continue to grow but that the growth rate should be lower for those with higher incomes.
It's good to see Halperin hold Axelrod accountable, but when are journalists going to hold President Obama accountable? During his own interviews with the press, Obama gets away with saying his plan for Medicare and Medicaid is to keep "costs low" without ever being asked to explain how, exactly, he would keep costs low and keep the country from heading off a fiscal cliff.
There have been four serious proposals over the past couple of years to rein in the debt--Simpson-Bowles, the Ryan budget, the Toomey plan, and the so-called "grand bargain." Obama rejected each of these plans.
And the Obama budget really doesn't count as a plan at all. As Bill Clinton's former White House chief of staff Erskine Bowles said, "The President came out with his own plan and the President came out, as you will remember, with a budget and I don’t think anyone took that budget very seriously. Um, the Senate voted against it 97 to nothing."