Williams: On that note, Tim Russert's going to take us into a segment on Social Security.
Russert: Senator Clinton, I want to clear something up which goes to the issue of credibility. You were asked at the AARP debate whether or not you would consider taxing, lifting the cap from $97,500, taxing that, raising more money for Social Security. You said, quote, "It's a no." I asked you the same question in New Hampshire, and you said "no."- Advertisement -
Then you went to Iowa and you went up to Tod Bowman, a teacher, and had a conversation with him saying, "I would consider lifting the cap perhaps above $200,000." You were overheard by an Associated Press reporter saying that.
Why do you have one public position and one private position?
Clinton: Well, Tim, I don't. I have said consistently that my plan for Social Security is fiscal responsibility first, then to deal with any long-term challenges which I agree are ones that we are going to have to address.
We would have a bipartisan commission. In the context of that, I think all of these would be considered. But, personally, I do not want to balance Social Security on the backs of our seniors and middle-class families. That's why I put fiscal responsibility first, because we have to change the Bush tax cuts, which I am committed to doing.- Advertisement -
We have to move back toward a more fair and progressive tax system, and begin once again to move toward a balanced budget with a surplus. You know, part of the idea in the '90s was not just so Bill would have a check mark next to his name in history, but so that we would have the resources to deal with a lot of these entitlement problems.
George Bush understood that. The Republicans understood that. They wanted to decimate that balanced budget and a surplus because they knew that that would give them a free hand to try to privatize Social Security.
I am not going to be repeating Republican talking points. So when somebody asks me, would something like this be considered, well, anything could be considered when we get to a bipartisan commission. But personally, I am not going to be advocating any specific fix until I am seriously approaching fiscal responsibility.
Isn’t fiscal responsibility also a way of dealing with long term challenges? What do you mean “change the Bush tax cuts”? Shouldn’t we be repealing them? Warren Buffett, one of the richest men in the world, complains that the tax system is far from progressive. It’s so bad a rich man is upset with our immoral tax system.
I cannot argue with the fact that Bush had plans to strip money from entitlement programs and privatize Social Security. But I can cite this article by Robin Blackburn titled, “How Monica Lewinsky Saves Social Security.” As long as you are citing Bill in your debate responses, I’m going to assume that your politics aren’t that far off from his. So, unless someone shows me that you were against Bill Clinton’s moves to privatize Social Security during his presidency, well, you’re just as bad as those Republicans stripping Americans of a future with a sound Social Security system.
I mean, it could be your specific fix is privatizing Social Security?
Russert: But you did raise it as a possibility with Tod Bowman?- Advertisement -
Clinton: Well, but everybody knows what the possibilities are, Tim. Everybody knows that. But I do not advocate it. I do not support it. I have laid out what I do believe, and I am going to continue to emphasize that.
I think, for us to act like Social Security is in crisis is a Republican trap. We're playing on the Republican field. And I don't intend to do that.
After this administration though, it is in crisis. Isn’t it?