Your President’s Press Conference: Social Security Demolition Derby

From Holden:

Severl of today’s questions focused on Social Security.

I have no plan (pay no attention to the Official White House Web Site which states that I have a plan [scroll down, lower right].)

Q Mr. President, you say you’re making progress in the Social Security debate. Yet private accounts, as the centerpiece of that plan, something you first campaigned on five years ago and laid before the American people, remains, according to every measure we have, poll after poll, unpopular with a majority of Americans. So the question is, do you feel that this is a point in the debate where it’s incumbent upon you, and nobody else, to lay out a plan to the American people for how you actually keep Social Security solvent for the long-term?

THE PRESIDENT: First of all, Dave, let me, if I might correct you, be so bold as to correct you, I have not laid out a plan yet, intentionally. I have laid out principles, I’ve talked about putting all options on the table, because I fully understand the administration must work with the Congress to permanently solve Social Security. So one aspect of the debate is, will we be willing to work together to permanently solve the issue.

Personal accounts do not solve the issue. But personal accounts will make sure that individual workers get a better deal with whatever emerges as a Social Security solution.


Q But, sir, but Democrats have made it pretty clear that they’re not interested in that. They want you to lay it out. And so, what I’m asking is, don’t —

THE PRESIDENT: I’m sure they do. The first bill on the Hill always is dead on arrival. I’m interested in coming up with a permanent solution. I’m not interested in playing political games. (Laughter. [Even the press corps thought that was a joke.]) I’m interested in working with members of both political parties.

Making up poll results is fun!

Q Sir, on Social Security, what is the time line that you want to see for action by Congress on a bill? When do you start to get worried about not getting something done this year? And also, if I can add, would you be willing to drop personal accounts in order to get a bill?

THE PRESIDENT: Personal accounts are very important for the individuals. It’s a — you know, it’s interesting — David quoted some poll — there’s all kinds of polls. For every poll you quote, I’ll quote another one. It’s kind of the way Washington works these days. They poll everything. The one I read the other day said people like the idea of personal accounts. [Anyone know what poll he’s talking about here? Did he poll his staff?]


I repeat, personal accounts do not permanently fix the solution. They make the solution more attractive for the individual worker. And that’s important for people for understand, John, and that’s why it’s very important for Congress to discuss this issue.

Try to seperate the confusion from the Freudian slips.

This is — now is the time to get this solved. I remember 1983, we’ve got a 75-year solution. It wasn’t a 75-year solution that they came up with. It was a — I like the spirit of people coming together from both parties to sit down and see if they couldn’t solve the immediate problem, but it wasn’t a 75-year solution because we’re talking about it now. And in 2018, the situation starts to get worse because more money is coming into the system — I mean, more money is going out of the system than coming in.

Treasury Bonds are not backed by the full faith and credit of the United States of America.

You know, one thing about Social Security — I’m sorry to blow on here, but now that you asked — a lot of people in America think there is a trust: your money goes in, the government holds it, and then the government gives your money back when you retire. That’s just not the way it works. And it’s important for the American citizens to understand. It’s a pay-as-you-go system. And right now, we’re paying for a lot of programs other than Social Security with the payroll tax coming in, thereby leaving a pile of IOUs. And part of why I think a personal account is an attractive option for a younger worker is that there will be real assets in the system at this point in time.

Do as I say, not as I do.

Q Mr. President, back to Social Security, if I may. You said right at the top today that you urged members of Congress to go out and talk about the problem with their constituents.

THE PRESIDENT: About solutions to the problem.

Q But also to talk about solutions. It’s that part of it I want to ask about. Aren’t you asking them to do something that you really haven’t been willing to do yet?

THE PRESIDENT: No, I’m interested in — first of all, I have laid out, in the State of the Union address — I haven’t looked at all previous State of the Union addresses, but I think I’m the first President ever to say, all options are on the table, and named a series of options. I think. Now, maybe somebody could go back and find out — if you’ve got some idle time on your hand, you might want to go read previous State of the Union addresses and see if that’s true.