There is concern among Senate Democrats that president Barack Obama hasn’t lived up to his first campaign promises and that if reelected, his lame-duck status will lead him to make concessions to Republicans regarding the benefit structure of Social Security. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) for one wants some assurance over the matter. He told The Huffington Post that
“When he says that he’s willing to look at changing the cap, that’s not good enough. Four years ago, he told us that, in fact, that was a proper solution, and he was right. I’ve introduced legislation to do just that … I think we’ve got to make sure that we reduce the wiggle room for the president, and he has got to make a very simple statement that, ‘If reelected, I will not cut Social Security.’”
Obama’s top adviser, David Axelrod, said they would receive no such thing.
“The approach has to be a balanced one,” he told MSNBC’s ‘Morning Joe.’ “We’ve had discussions in the past. And the question is, can you raise the cap some? Right now Social Security cuts off at a certain point. Can you raise the cap so people in the upper incomes are paying a little more into the program? And do you adjust the growth of the program? That’s a discussion worth having. But again, we have to approach it in a balanced way. We’re not going to cut our way to prosperity. We’re not going to cut our way to more secure entitlement programs – Social Security and Medicare. We have to have a balance.”
The cap in question is the level of income that’s taxed for paying Social Security’s trust fund. Sanders is also concerned over the “chained CPI” or consumer price index, which calculates inflation in such a way to decrease the cost of living increases for Social Security payment. Obama used this as a concession last summer. He and other senators would like to see a more vigorous follow through on Obama’s social security promises. The question is if he still has it in him.