Trays of printed Social Security checks wait to be mailed. (AP Photo/Bradley C Bower)
The first of three presidential debates is done. But the debate over the future of Social Security is far from settled.
Mitt Romney did his best in the first debate to distance himself from his running mate’s privatization schemes. And President Obama let Romney get away with it, by saying: “I suspect that on Social Security, we’ve got a somewhat similar position.” The Obama camp has since distanced itself from that line, which is good, since tens of millions of Americans would have a hard time voting for Obama if they thought he actually shared Romney’s stance.
Hopefully, Vice President Biden will be blunter in calling out Paul Ryan in Thursday’s vice presidential debate. The House Budget Committee, whose allegiance to Wall Street speculators threatens the retirement security of Americans over age 65 and, especially, of Americans who are headed toward retirement, has outlined a strategy for the eventual privatization of Social Security. Biden could simply quote the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare, which says that for “ the GOP Romney/Ryan Presidential ticket, Social Security is seen as little more than a budget target. They intend to use it to fund tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans and allow Wall Street to access American workers’ Social Security funds.”
But this has do go deeper than debating points. Americans need real assurances.
Poll after poll confirms the popularity of Social Security, as well as the strong preference on the part of voters of all regions, parties and ideological trendencies that the program should be protected from cuts when politicians address debts and deficits.
Romney and Ryan can’t be allowed to spin their way around this issue. Romney, with his selection of Ryan as his running-mate, identified the GOP ticket with proposals to shred the safety net. He’ll have to renounce Ryan if he wants voters to imagine that Social Security would survive on his watch.
But Americans also need to hear more and better from President Obama.