Obama Pledges to Strengthen Social Security

The President rules out cutting benefits for current and future retirees.

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President Obama ruled out cutting Social Security benefits for current or future retirees in his State of the Union address last night. He also rejected the idea of privatizing the program. Here is the passage of his speech about Social Security:

[See 12 Ways to Fix Social Security.]

“To put us on solid ground, we should also find a bipartisan solution to strengthen Social Security for future generations. We must do it without putting at risk current retirees, the most vulnerable, or people with disabilities; without slashing benefits for future generations; and without subjecting Americans' guaranteed retirement income to the whims of the stock market.”

Obama appears to have rejected the recommendations of the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, a bipartisan panel he created to address the deficit. The deficit commission released a report in November suggesting increasing the age seniors can claim full retirement benefits, reducing cost-of-living adjustments, and changing the Social Security benefit formula for future retirees in a way that will reduce benefits for many people. The President did not speculate about what changes to the Social Security program he would be willing to accept.

[See 4 Social Security Changes Coming in 2011.]

Most Americans say they want to maintain Social Security benefits at their present levels. A Gallup and USA Today poll of 1,032 adults released today found that 64 percent oppose cutting Social Security. Republicans and Democrats in the survey were equally as likely to oppose Social Security cuts. And a New York Times and CBS News survey of 1,036 people released last week found that Americans largely prefer paying higher Social Security taxes (63 percent) to benefit reductions (25 percent).

[See Will You Get Back Your Social Security Taxes in Retirement?]

Rep. Paul Ryan, a Wisconsin Republican, and Rep. Michele Bachmann, a Minnesota Republican, did not directly address Social Security in their responses to the State of the Union.