Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton harbors the desire to change Social Security for the cause of “fiscal responsibility,” which conflicts with both her current campaign platform and also the platform of her opponent Donald Trump.
An unearthed 2007 video shows Clinton plotting unclear “adjustments” to Social Security that sound much like the plans Paul Ryan proposed during the 2012 election, when the Republican ticket lost badly by prioritizing the so-called “entitlement crisis” and the cuts they said needed to be made.
This video conflicts with Clinton’s ill-defined current platform, which calls on tax hikes for the rich: “expand Social Security for today’s beneficiaries and generations to come by asking the wealthiest to contribute more.”
It also sharply contrasts Donald Trump’s “Third Way” economic platform, which cuts taxes across the board and preserves Social Security and Medicare in their current versions. Trump pays for this plan by generating new revenues from revising foreign trade deals and lightening business regulations to allow companies to keep their headquarters and their taxable profits in the United States.
If Trump can seize on Clinton’s long-held desire to enact Republican-style entitlement reform, and position himself as the man who can defend Social Security for people who have been paying into it for decades, then he can flip the narrative on Republican versus Democratic fiscal politics in this country and convert new voters.
Clinton made her telling remarks in an interview with The Keene Sentinel Editorial Board in New Hampshire in November 2007, during her first run for the presidency.
“I think that’s perceptive,” Clinton said when accused by a reporter of being “less than precise about what you would do.”
“So, here’s my position. I believe that we have to move back to fiscal responsibility,” Clinton said.
“I think if we don’t talk about fixing Social Security in the context of fiscal responsibility, I as president will lose one of the levers that I have to try to get the Congress back on the right path to be responsible. And I think there’s a lot of reasons why we need to do that.”
“But secondly, in order to meet the long-term challenges, there may well need to be some adjustments in a variety of options that everyone’s aware of,” Clinton added.
“Fiscal responsibility first. A bipartisan commission. I will deal with this during my term. I will try to deal with it in my first term. Because I think we do have to get back on the right track, and we can do it in a way that doesn’t impose additional and difficult burdens on middle class or seniors, and that’s why I’m trying to keep the options, you know, open…”
“The projections are, by 2017, if we don’t do anything, and I think frankly what we have to do is not that burdensome, um, but it has to be agreed upon in a bipartisan way for it to be do-able. We still have time even after 2017 to deal with this. But it should be dealt with, and it will be dealt with,” during her hypothetical presidency, Clinton added.
“I come at it from a perspective, I intend to save Social Security,” Clinton said.