After President Barack Obama on Wednesday said he and Mitt Romney had “somewhat” similar positions on Social Security, he was attacked from those in his left flank who do not want to discuss even the most sensible of plans to reform Social Security.
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) (I-Vt.), a Socialist and founder of the Senate’s Defending Social Security Caucus, said Obama’s comments were “very distressing” because “it is extremely bad public policy and will cause serious damage to a whole lot of vulnerable Americans.”
“The American people in poll after poll after poll have been very clear, do not cut Social Security and for the president to say I expect that my position is somewhat similar to Gov. Romney is very, very distressing,” Sanders said.
According to The Hill, Nancy Altman, who co-chairs a “Strengthen Social Security” coalition that includes the AFL-CIO, MoveOn.org Political Action, and the Service Employees International Union, was critical, accusing Obama of not knowing Romney’s past stances on Social Security, such as favoring personal savings accounts as an option, gradually raising the retirement agee, and means-testing benefits.
Roger Hickey, also a member of the coalition, said he was “dumbfounded” by Obama’s remarks.
“I was dumbfounded,” Hickey said. “He could have said, ‘Lets see if we agree on Social Security, I’m not in favor of cutting benefits, I’m not in favor of privatizing like you and your running mate have advocated.'”
Last month, according to The Hill, 29 Democratic senators, including Sanders, signed a letter pledging to oppose any cuts to Social Security during debt-reduction negotiations during the lame-duck session of Congress.
“We believe it would be a serious mistake to cut Social Security benefits for current or future beneficiaries as part of a deficit-reduction package,” they wrote. “To be sure, Social Security has its own long-term challenges that will need to be addressed in the decades ahead. But the budget and Social Security are separate and should be considered separately.”