John Edwards on Social Security
2004 Democratic Nominee for Vice President; Former Jr Senator (NC)
A: Well, she has a point. But the point doesn’t go as far as it needs to go. The problem is that Sen. Clinton is not for privatizing, not for reducing benefits, not for raising the retirement age. I completely agree with all that. But she’s made no proposal about what we’re going to do. So what is her proposal? That she set up a bipartisan commission, and they’ll solve the problem. The president of the US has to lead on these issues. I agree mostly with what Sen. Obama is saying. I do think we have to do something about the cap.
Beyond that I would raise the cap. I’d lift the cap. But I think we have to have some really specific ideas about what we want to do. I don’t agree with Sen. Obama exactly on what he’s proposing, but at least he’s proposing something. We’re not legislators. We are running for the presidency. And voters deserve to hear the truth, and they deserve to hear specifics.
KUCINICH: Of course we ought to be raising the cap in order to protect Social Security. And in addition, we should be thinking about lowering the retirement age to 65. People’s bodies break down.
DODD: You could do this by basically readjusting that tax so it doesn’t have to affect everyone in society.
Q: But you’d raise the cap to $500,000?
DODD: You’ve got to raise it up, clearly, to do this.
A: No, sir, you cannot. You cannot solve this problem just by setting up a bipartisan commission. All of us are for that. You cannot solve this problem just by growing the economy. All of us are for that. But the American people deserve to hear the truth. They have heard so much politician double-talk on this issue. That’s the reason young people don’t believe Social Security’s going to be there for them. Why would you possibly trust a bunch of politicians who say the same thing over and over--“We’re going to grow our way out of this”--but nothing changes. The honest truth is there are hard choices to be made here. The choice I would make as president is on the cap. But I don’t understand why somebody who makes $50 million a year pays Social Security tax on the first $97,000, and not all the rest, while somebody who makes $85,000 a year pays Social Security tax on every dime of their income.
Thirty years later our nation made more progress through the War on Poverty. Since Medicare’s creation in 1965, poverty among the elderly has been reduced by nearly two-thirds. Medicaid provides healthcare for more than 52 million Americans. Head Start has improved the health and school readiness of more than 20 million children.
A: I think there’re multiple ways to do it. One example is, we now have a cap on the taxes that’re paid. It’s about $90,000 And does that cap make sense? Maybe not. If we’re going to raise the cap or eliminate the cap, do we need to have a bubble for middle income families that earn over $90,000 a year? Maybe. I think there’re tools available to us.
A: This is the one area where it will require really serious bipartisan effort to get anything done. You know, this has been approached and approached and approached in the past. As president of the United States, I would bring together leaders on both sides and experts and try to put together something that would work on both Social Security and Medicare. But, yes, people are living longer. You know, this applies to my own father and yours; we still have a lot of people in this country who work very, very hard and, when they reach retirement age, they deserve to be able to retire. And I just think we can’t ignore the fact that we have made a social contract with millions and millions of Americans, and we can’t go out there and just yank it out from under them.
EDWARDS: No, I don’t believe it can. I think we have to do a number of things. One is, in order to lengthen the financial viability of Social Security, the single most important thing is to get away from this deficit spending that this president has put us in and move back to fiscal responsibility.
Balance America’s Commitments to the Young and the Old
An ever-growing share of the federal budget today consists of automatic transfers from working Americans to retirees. Moreover, the costs of the big entitlements for the elderly -- Social Security and Medicare -- are growing at rates that will eventually bankrupt them and that could leave little to pay for everything else government does. We can’t just spend our way out of the problem; we must find a way to contain future costs. The federal government already spends seven times as much on the elderly as it does on children. To allow that ratio to grow even more imbalanced would be grossly unfair to today’s workers and future generations. In addition, Social Security and Medicare need to be modernized to reflect conditions not envisioned when they were created in the 1930s and the 1960s. Social Security, for example, needs a stronger basic benefit to bolster its critical role in reducing poverty in old age. Medicare needs to offer retirees more choices and a modern benefit package that includes prescription drugs. Such changes, however, will only add to the cost of the programs unless they are accompanied by structural reforms that restrain their growth and limit their claim on the working families whose taxes support the programs.
The mission of the Alliance for Retired Americans is to ensure social and economic justice and full civil rights for all citizens so that they may enjoy lives of dignity, personal and family fulfillment and security. The Alliance believes that all older and retired persons have a responsibility to strive to create a society that incorporates these goals and rights and that retirement provides them with opportunities to pursue new and expanded activities with their unions, civic organizations and their communities.
The following ratings are based on the votes the organization considered most important; the numbers reflect the percentage of time the representative voted the organization's preferred position.
|Other candidates on Social Security:||John Edwards on other issues:|
GOP: Sen.John McCain
GOP V.P.: Gov.Sarah Palin
Democrat: Sen.Barack Obama
Dem.V.P.: Sen.Joe Biden
Constitution: Chuck Baldwin
Libertarian: Rep.Bob Barr
Constitution: Amb.Alan Keyes
Liberation: Gloria La Riva
Green: Rep.Cynthia McKinney
Socialist: Brian Moore
Independent: Ralph Nader