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Today marks the 75th anniversary of President Roosevelt’s signing of the Social Security Act (at approximately 3:30 PM, to be exact).

Others will surely write informative diaries regarding the good things Social Security has done and will do for millions upon millions of Americans. As well they should. It’s a program that deserves the highest of praise.

As well as the strongest of protection.

My intention, given the Cat Food Commission’s intention on focusing on Social Security, is to take just a quick, cursory trip down Memory Lane in advance of proposed changes… to see just where then-candidate Obama stood on Social Security.

It will provide a base on which to judge his efforts going forward in the fight, and I think it would be a great rider to all the expected Social Security diaries today.

Follow me below to see where a President, now “agnostic” about ideas like cuts to Social Security benefits, was as a candidate before he declared that “all options are on the table”.

(UPDATE: The President's weekly address today, talking about Social Security: http://www.whitehouse.gov/... )

A look back:

"Obama and Biden will protect Social Security benefits for current and future beneficiaries alike."
http://www.barackobama.com/...

Well, that one is pretty damned clear-cut.
No mealy-mouthed, weasel word mentions of “strong support” or “belief in”.

It’s quite plain and simple: “will”.
That’s the type of thing that can easily be filed under “pledge” or “promise”.

Let’s just see if they “will”.

"And they do not believe it is necessary or fair to hardworking seniors to raise the retirement age."
http://www.barackobama.com/...

Ruh-roh.

There’s that “believe in” phraseology. They might not have “believed” it was necessary at the time. But that seems to me the type of thing that falls short of a pledge, leaving them open to being convinced now that it is necessary. Nevermind that Vice President Biden has mentioned support of as much in the past.

Luckily (I think), we have congressional Dems pushing back against the raising of the retirement age.

(forgive me for not being confident, as there was room left for wiggling in that very same story)

Though, curiously, while singling out direct opposition to raising the retirement age, they seem to have failed to single out cuts to benefits. Let’s hope that’s not a prelude of things to come.

Given the pledge above by then-candidate Obama, you’d think there would be no need to have to hope for as much. But I think the last 18-months have shown there’s plenty of false hope to go around on any number of issues.

"Obama and Biden are strongly opposed to privatizing Social Security."
http://www.barackobama.com/...

Like Obama “strongly supported” the public option? How’d that work out?

Here, though, I think we can be pretty confident. If there is anything the Democratic Party seems to be on the same page about, it’s in their desire to stop Social Security from being privatized.

Plus, we’ve seen that it poll tests pretty well for them.
And we know that poll testing is priority over policy preference!
Unless, of course, it’s positive polling for something like the public option.

But I digress.

"As part of a bipartisan plan that would be phased in over many years, they will ask those making over $250,000 to contribute a bit more to Social Security to keep it sound."
http://www.barackobama.com/...

Now, there’s a novel idea.

Instead of raising retirement ages, or cutting benefits, or any of the numerous ideas being floated to further stick it to the working class poor, how about simply adjusting the cap on payroll tax… which basically everyone agrees would keep Social Security solvent for another 75 years?

You’d think that would be the designated course of action, given the above.

Along with this:

"I think that the best way to approach this is to adjust the cap on the payroll tax so that people like myself are paying a little bit more and the people who are in need are protected. That is the option that I will be pushing forward."

And this:

"The best idea is to lift the cap on the payroll tax, potentially exempting middle-class folks, but making sure that the wealthy are paying more of their fair share, a little bit more."

And this:

"What we need to do is to raise the cap on the payroll tax so that wealthy individuals are paying a little bit more into the system, if we are going to deal with this problem specifically."

And this:

CLINTON: I’m certainly against one of Senator Obama’s ideas, which is to lift the cap on the payroll tax, because that would impose additional taxes on people who are educators, police officers, firefighters and the like.
OBAMA: What I have proposed is that we raise the cap on the payroll tax, because right now millionaires and billionaires don’t have to pay beyond $97,000 a year. Now most firefighters & teachers, they’re not making over $100,000 a year. In fact, only 6% of the population does. And I’ve also said that I’d be willing to look at exempting people who are making slightly above that.
Q: But that’s a tax on people under $250,000.
OBAMA: That’s why I would look at potentially exempting those who are in between. This is an option that I would strongly consider, because the alternatives, like raising the retirement age, or cutting benefits, or raising the payroll tax on everybody, including people making less than $97,000 a year--those are not good policy options.

Source for all of the above:
http://www.ontheissues.org/...

…as but just a few examples.

Given that "all options are on the table", we'll see just how that all holds up.

Let's hope a bit better than the health care reform pledges that turned to health insurance reform capitulations.

We’ll be watching, Mr. President.

Thankfully, others are too.

And, we have the Congressional Progressive Caucus to pen yet another Sternly. Worded. Letter.:

“We write to express our strong opposition to any potential proposal from your commission that would undermine Social Security by reducing benefits, increasing the retirement age, or privatizing elements of the program,” caucus co-chairmen Reps. Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.) and Lynn Woolsey (D-Calif.) wrote in the letter, which was provided to The Hill. 
[...]

Ruh-roh. There's that weasel "strongly oppose" nonsense. What?

Like the President "strongly supported" the public option? Yeah. Um.

We're looking for "fight" more than "support".

Oh, look:

We will not allow the commission to reduce Social Security payments, especially during an economic downturn that has wiped out trillions of dollars in net worth around the country.
“Any recommendations from your commission must be enacted by both houses of Congress. If any of those recommendations cut or diminish Social Security in any way, we will stand firmly against them.” 
[...]
http://thehill.com/...

Thems sounds likes fightin' words.

We'll see just how they hold up.

Let's hope a bit better than the health care reform pledges that turned to health insurance reform capitulations.

We'll be watching.

(NOTE: If others were watching during the campaigns, please add your grabs in the comments section below. This brief list is only but a cursory look. And it would be helpful if the record of campaign rhetoric, pledges, and promises was beefed up in advance of the battle.)

Originally posted to SJerseyIndy on Sat Aug 14, 2010 at 05:31 AM PDT.

Poll

Social Security reform:

8%3 votes
5%2 votes
2%1 votes
37%14 votes
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35%13 votes
8%3 votes

| 37 votes | Vote | Results

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