Bernie Sanders has a message for the President [pdf]:
In a letter to the president, Sanders referred to what he called “worrisome reports” that Obama is considering cuts in Social Security. “I hope that information is wrong and that you will stand by your campaign promises to strengthen Social Security,” the senator said. “I urge you once again to make it clear to the American people that under your watch we will not cut Social Security benefits, raise the retirement age or privatize this critical program.”
A White House fiscal commission appointed by Obama recently called for changes in Social Security. A change in how Social Security is funded as part of the tax deal Obama reached in December with congressional Republicans was another warning sign, Sanders said. Another red flag was raised when Obama economic adviser Austan Goolsbee evaded a direct question about Social Security cuts. "Let's not rule everything out," Goolsbee said during a Jan. 7 interview on CNN. On Capitol Hill, House Speaker John Boehner repeatedly has said he supports raising the Social Security retirement age to 70.
In fact, the Social Security trust fund has a $2.6 trillion surplus projected to increase to more than $4 trillion by 2023, the senator noted in his letter. The 75-year-old system will be able to continue to pay every nickel owed to ever eligible recipient for at least another 26 years. “All of us want to work in a bipartisan manner when we can, but needlessly cutting Social Security benefits when that has nothing to do with our deficit situation is not good public policy,” Sanders said.
Here are some of those promises.
...I believe that cutting benefits is not the right answer; I've seen too many seniors all across the country who are struggling with the limited Social Security benefits that they have; that raising the retirement age is not the best option....
John McCain's campaign has gone even further, suggesting that the best answer for the growing pressures on Social Security might be to cut cost of living adjustements or raise the retirement age. Let me be clear: I will not do either....
I think that's why the best way forward is to first look to adjust the cap on the payroll tax. Ninety-seven percent of Americans will see absolutely no change in their taxes under my proposal--97 percent. What it does allow us to do is to extend the life of Social Security without cutting benefits or raising the retirement age.
What Barack Obama said in 2008 is just as true for President Obama in 2011: any cuts to Social Security, including raising the retirement age, are not the best option, and are unnecessary.
In the next few weeks, the White House is deciding what the President will say about Social Security in the State of the Union address--will he offer up Social Security in a Grand Bargain, or will he keep the promise he made to the American people in 2008?