Russert: people on SS and medicare are going to double, and if nothing is done, we’ll have to cut benefits or double the taxes. Right now, you pay ss tax on the first $97,500 of income. Why not tax the full income?
Biden: the answer is yes. The truth is that either you’ll cut benefits, or you’ll raise taxes above the first $97,000. You can’t do it by growing the economy alone — you also have to raise the cap. He doesn’t support raising the retirement age.
Clinton: Bush deficits have cost us 15 years of solvency. We now need another bipartisan process like we had with Bob Dole, Tip O’Neill, Moynihan. Fiscal responsibility comes first. “I’m not putting anything on the table until we move toward fiscal responsibility.” No comment on lifting the cap.
Obama: lifting the cap is probably the best option. Much preferable to other available choices. Reject privatization.
Dodd: you can raise the cap without eliminating it. Privatization is off the table.
Richardson: No, you don’t need to lift the cap. It’s a 15% tax on small businesses. Privatization is off the table. Stop raiding ss trust fund. I’m for a constitutional amendment to balance the budget; grow the economy; universal pensions [what’s that? -ed.] Now out comes the laundry list of things we can do to grow the economy.
Russert presses the point: you can do it by growing the economy? Richardson won’t back down.
Edwards: you cannot grow your way out of this one or by setting up a bipartisan commission. Why would you trust politicians who say the same thing over and over? There are hard choices to be made. The choice I would make is the cap: I don’t understand why someone who makes $50 million pays tax on the first $97,000, while someone who makes $85,000 pays tax on everything. What I would do is create a protective zone between 97K and 200K, but people who make millions should pay ss tax.
Kucinich says Wall Street bad.
Dodd says he can bring people together and get things done like Reagan/Dole/O’Neill.
Clinton says it’s important not to give away your negotiating position before you establish that fiscal responsibility is the basic premise of the negotiation. You don’t want to be negotiating with yourself before you start the process.