Confused about the Social Security “plan” Chimpy introduced last night? So are the gagglers, and Little Scottie ain’t helpin’ much.
Q Under the President’s new proposal unveiled last night, would average workers see a cut in their Social Security benefit?
MR. McCLELLAN: Steve, right now under the current system, all Americans are facing significant benefit cuts. If we do nothing, all Americans will see significant cuts in their Social Security benefits.
Q Under the Pozen plan, he has a specific formula on who gets what and how benefits are determined. Is the President signing on to all elements of this Pozen plan?
MR. McCLELLAN: No, he was saying that he’s proposing an approach that is based on what Mr. Pozen outlined.
But the President did last night in his remarks make it clear that any solution ought to make sure that the benefits for lower-income Americans will continue to grow under what is promised under the current system. But the current system cannot deliver that promise. And so lower-income American benefits will grow faster than the wealthiest.
Q Scott, can you just explain how the President’s plan would work?
MR. McCLELLAN: How the President’s plan would work?
Q Yes. I mean, you explained it in the gaggle when —
MR. McCLELLAN: I think you look at the Pozen model —
Q — you talked about low income, sliding scale. Can you —
MR. McCLELLAN: Right, there would be a sliding scale. And that’s what — we put out a fact sheet on this last night, I think it explained it all for you. And I think the Pozen model is a good way to look at it, because it is based on that kind of approach. It’s a progressive approach and the President believes it’s the way we ought to proceed on a comprehensive solution, while also providing personal accounts.
Walks like a cut, quacks like a cut…
Q Scott, if you’re expecting a benefit check of a certain level, and a benefit check comes in that’s a lot less than that, isn’t that a cut?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, let’s talk about — let’s talk about this, because there are essentially two options —
Q Why isn’t it a cut?
MR. McCLELLAN: — two options we have right now.
Q Can you explain why that’s not a cut, though?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, what are you comparing it to?
Q A check that you’re expecting versus the one that you get.
MR. McCLELLAN: The current system — the current system if we do nothing will lead to significant benefit cuts for all Americans. All Americans. That’s why we need to fix the system. That’s why we need to make it permanently sound. And the clock is now starting to tick on Democratic leaders. They need to come forward with ideas and quit simply standing in the way of solutions. The American people expect their leaders to work together to address problems and not engage in partisan schemes that simply block solutions.
Q I understand the nature of the debate, Scott. The use of the word “cut,” if you’re expecting a check of a certain level, and another one comes in that’s less than that, why is that not a cut?
MR. McCLELLAN: It’s a question of how fast the benefits grow, Mark. That’s what the question boils down to. Under the current system — that’s why I’m pointing to — there’s the promise of the current system, but that promise is an empty promise. And if we continue on the current course, Americans — all Americans, including low-income Americans — are going to see significant benefit cuts. That’s the “do nothing” approach.
Q So what you’re saying, though, is that either way it’s a cut — it’s just, you pays your money, you takes your choice? Either way benefits would be cut, the President wants to do it one way —
MR. McCLELLAN: What I’m saying, under the current system if you do nothing, there are going to be significant benefit cuts. That’s why the President believes we need to have a permanent solution; that’s why he believes personal accounts are so important, because personal accounts — personal accounts will enable you to realize a much greater rate of return.
And suddenly, like Dear Leader last night, Scottie has a change of heart and asserts that those government IOUs ain’t so bad after all.
MR. McCLELLAN: But the President also added an additional option, which was that if you want to invest in even a safer option, then you could put it aside in all Treasury bonds. So what you need to do, Mark, I think is go to Democratic leaders and go, you are talking about problems, well, what ideas are you putting on the table — because it’s time to come to the table with ideas and quit blocking solutions.
Walks like a cut, quacks like a cut… Part II.
Q I’m asking about the use of the word “cut,” because earlier today you called — you said it was irresponsible to use that word, and I’m just trying to figure out —
MR. McCLELLAN: No. No. Actually — Q — whether that would appropriately apply.
MR. McCLELLAN: — let me correct you. That’s not what I said. That’s not what I said. I said it’s irresponsible when a headline says that, Bush cites plan that would cut Social Security: affluent more effective. That leaves the impression, one, that it’s affecting everybody now; and, two, that that applies to everybody across the board. That’s not the case, and you know that that’s not the case. And that’s not what — I disagree with the way you characterize the way I cited it.
Well, that’s clear. But does the president really support the Pozen Plan?
Q Scott, could I ask one quick technical question about the Pozen plan? He envisions a hike in the wage ceiling. Does the President support that?
MR. McCLELLAN: Again, what he’s — he hasn’t endorsed every single element of the Pozen plan.
I hope you all understand now.