Media in Trouble: All the news thats UNfit to print!: Bush answers Social Security question at latest press rally...Or does he?

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Thursday, December 23, 2004

Bush answers Social Security question at latest press rally...Or does he?

REPORTER: Thank you, Mr. President. You have made Social Security reform the top of your domestic agenda for a second term. You have been talking extensively about the benefits of private accounts, but by most estimations, private accounts may leave something for young workers at the end, but wouldn't do much to solve the overall financial problem with social security. I'm just wondering, as you promote the private accounts, why aren't you talking about the tough measures that need to be taken to preserve Social Security such as increase the retirement age, cutting benefits or means testing for Social Security?

GEORGE W. BUSH: I appreciate the question. Let me put the Social Security issue in proper perspective. It is a very important issue, but it's not the only issue - very important issue, we'll be dealing with. I expect the Congress to bring forth meaningful tort reform. I want the legal system reformed in a way that we can -- we are competitive in the world. I will be talking about the budget, of course. There's a lot of concern in the financial markets about our deficits, short-term and long-term deficits. The long-term deficit is caused by some of the entitlement programs, the unfunded liabilities inherent in the entitlement programs. I will push on an education agenda. No doubt in my mind that the “No Child Left Behind” Act is meaningful, a real reform having real results. And I look forward to strengthening “No Child Left Behind.” Immigration reform is also very important agenda item as we move forward. But Social Security, as well, is a big item. I campaigned on it, as you are painfully aware, since you had to suffer through many of my speeches. I didn't duck the issue like others have done in the past. I said this is a vital issue, and we need to work together to solve it. Now, the temptation is going to be, by well-meaning people such as yourself, John, and others here as we run up to the issue, to get me to negotiate with myself in public to say, you know, what's this mean, Mr. President? What's that mean? I'm not going to do that. I don't get to write the law. I'll propose a solution at the appropriate time, but the law will be written in the halls of Congress. I will negotiate with them, with the members of Congress, and they will want me to start playing my hand. Will you accept this, will you not accept that, why don't you do this hard thing, why don't you do that. I recognize, this is going to be a decision that requires difficult choices, John. Inherent in your question I do recognize that, you bet I do. Otherwise, it would have been done. So, I am just -- I just want to condition you. I'm not doing a very good job, because the other day in the Oval Office, when the press pool came in, I was asked about this -- the series of questions -- a question on Social Security with these different aspects to it. And I said, I'm not going to negotiate with myself. I will negotiate at the appropriate time with the law writers. So, thank you for trying. The principles I laid out in the course of the campaign and the principles we laid out in the recent economic summit are still the principles I believe in. That is, nothing will change for those near our Social Security payroll. You were the one that asked me whether the payroll tax, if I'm not mistaken, will not go up. And I know there's the big definition about what that means. Well, again, I will repeat -- don't bother to ask me. Or, you can ask me. I can't tell you what to ask. That's not the holiday spirit. But I'm -- it is all part of trying to get me to set the parameters -- you know, apart from the Congress, which is not a good way to get substantive reform done.


yep that put it in perspective for me.

Incidentally I got this from Democracy Now which held a discussion with Paul krugman on the subject.

Again even Democracy now skirted the real elephant Medicare even though Krugman brought it up.