Many good questions in the gaggle today, particularly on Social Security. You should really go read the transcript. Here’s a taste:
Q Is he willing to compromise on the privatization accounts, the idea of his?
MR. McCLELLAN: The President believes very strongly that personal savings accounts must be part of the solution. Personal savings accounts will allow younger workers to realize a greater rate of return on their retirement savings, and that’s why he believes so strongly in it. Again, right now, Social Security is headed in a direction that is not sustainable, and the President believes this is a problem that needs to be fixed and strengthened so that younger workers — our children and grandchildren — will be able to realize these greater rates of return.
Q How do you plan to pay for it?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, again, there will be some — first of all, under the current system, the cost of doing nothing is $10 trillion over the long haul —
Q That doesn’t tell me how you’re going to pay for it.
MR. McCLELLAN: Understood, let me finish, let me finish. I’m coming to your answer.
The President at this point has not endorsed a specific plan, but he’s laid out some very clear principles and he’s very firmly committed to working closely with congressional leaders to get this done — that’s why he’s meeting with them this morning. There will be some up-front transition financing that will be needed to move toward a better system that will allow younger workers to invest a small portion of their own money into personal savings accounts. But it will be a savings over the current system. The current system is simply unsustainable. And like I said, it will lead to either massive tax increases or massive benefit cuts for younger workers.
Now, the President has made it very clear that there will be no changes for those at or near retirement.
Q Up-front transition financing — does that mean borrowing?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, that’s what you’re looking at doing as part of the transition to a better Social Security system.
Q Scott, but that does pass those costs on to future generations by just borrowing them?
MR. McCLELLAN: Mark, the cost to future generations right now is unsustainable. It is actually a savings. That’s what I was trying to emphasize. If you look at the two options that are available, doing nothing — which is a $10 trillion cost over the long haul — or acting and reducing that cost, as well as making sure that the retirement savings are there for our children and grandchildren to build a nest egg for their future.
Q But, Scott —
MR. McCLELLAN: Let me keep going. We’re not going to have a shouting contest today. I’ll keep going and we’ll get back. Rosiland, go ahead.
The press corps also made Scottie look silly over the voting shenanigans in Ohio, as he resorts to setting the bar extremely low:
Q There is an investigation ongoing. There is indication that there was suppression of the vote. This is a violation of the Voting Rights Act. And if it is shown that there is a systematic voter suppression in the case of Ohio, doesn’t this cast a pallor on the great victory celebrations that you had after the election?
MR. McCLELLAN: No, the American people spoke very clearly on November 2nd. It was a clear victory for the President of the United States. Now is the time for us to all look forward in how we can work together to get things done. I think you gave a very one-sided view of things there, and I do not agree with it.
Q But does the President support an investigation into what, if anything, might have gone wrong in the system in Ohio?
MR. McCLELLAN: I think the election was viewed as very free and fair, and we hope that there will be free and fair elections in places like Iraq and the Palestinian Territories, as well.