02-19-2017  8:31 am      •     
McMenamins

KEENE, N.H. (AP) -- Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum called Friday for immediate cuts to Social Security benefits, risking the wrath of older voters and countless others who balk at changes to the entitlement program.

"We can't wait 10 years," even though "everybody wants to," Santorum told a crowd while campaigning in New Hampshire and looking to set himself apart from his Republican rivals four days before the New Hampshire primary.

Most of his opponents have advocated phasing in a reduction and say immediate cuts would be too big a shock to current and soon-to-be retirees.

Politicians typically suggest phase-in periods of up to a decade when broaching the topic of changing Social Security to avoid grievous consequences from angering older voters.

Clearly aware of the risks, Santorum argued that everyone must sacrifice now because the nation's "house is on fire" with soaring federal debt. He argued that he is being courageous and honest by telling Americans they can't afford to wait to rein in Social Security's growing costs. And he said he anticipated possible attack ads on his position.

He made a similar pitch last week in Fort Dodge, Iowa, when he was getting little attention in the GOP race - and before he came from the back of the pack to nearly win the Iowa caucuses.

At that event, Santorum said: "The Democratic National Committee is going to say, 'Ah, ... he's for changing benefits now.' Yes, I am. Yes, I am."

"We need to change benefits for everybody now," Santorum said at the time. "Is everybody going to take a little bit of a hit? No, but a lot of people will."

Santorum, a former senator from Pennsylvania, says changes should include a higher eligibility age to qualify for Social Security benefits, and tighter restrictions on benefits for upper-income people. Americans now qualify for reduced Social Security benefits at age 62 and full benefits at 66, soon to rise to 67.

Social Security pays proportionately higher benefits to low-income people. But Santorum says wealthy retirees' proportionate benefits should be trimmed further. He did not offer details.

This week, he told New Hampshire audiences that Americans over 65 were society's poorest age group in 1937, when Social Security was created. Now that group is the wealthiest, he said.

He also noted that Americans now live much longer, putting far bigger demands on the government retirement program.

Santorum offers only modest details on how he would implement his proposed changes. He has not said how much money he hopes to save.

In a brief interview Friday as he plowed his way through a crowd after the Keene event, he was asked if the nation should make the changes now.

"I think we should, yeah," Santorum said. "Obviously we're going to have to go through a debate next year and figure out ways in which to make the revenues meet the expenditures."

He tells voters he would rule out higher taxes or more deficit spending to help the Social Security program. That leaves benefit cuts as the only way to match revenues and costs, he notes.

Santorum's call for immediate benefit cuts puts him at odds with his Republican rivals.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who came under fire for calling Social Security a "Ponzi Scheme," tried to recover in part by emphasizing that any changes in benefits would not affect current or soon-to-be retirees.

Rep. Ron Paul of Texas says younger workers should be able to opt out of Social Security taxes and retirement benefits. "My plan explicitly protects the elderly and the sick in the transition," he says.

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney has said in a statement, "We must keep the promises made to our current retirees: their Social Security and Medicare benefits should not be affected."

Like Santorum, Romney has called for increasing the eligibility age for Social Security and slowing benefits to high-income recipients. His aides have said the pace of change has yet to be decided, but soon-to-be beneficiaries would not be affected.

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich calls for giving younger workers the option of diverting Social Security taxes to private retirement accounts. Some independent groups say his proposal, which is based on a Chilean program and does not anticipate automatic benefit cuts, is unduly optimistic.

President Barack Obama last year discussed possible reductions in Social Security benefits as part of a large debt-reduction deal with House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio. The talks collapsed, however.

The Romney and Gingrich campaigns had no immediate comment Friday on Santorum's proposals.

A House Republican budget-cutting plan, authored by Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., would exempt everyone now over 55 from proposed reductions in Social Security benefits.

Ryan and others have said a phased-in change would give Americans time to plan their retirements without surprises. But Santorum says those officials are seeking political cover by delaying their proposed changes.

"That's why you see Paul Ryan saying, `Oh, I'm going to fix Social Security, I'm going to fix Medicare in 10 years,'" Santorum told a crowd Thursday in Northfield, N.H.

He said Ryan assumes, "well, if you're under 55, you won't be paying much attention, right? Well, the problem is, this is not a problem that we can wait 10 years to solve."

Max Richtman, president of the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare, said in an interview that cuts in Social Security benefits are not justified under any timetable.

Santorum, he said, "is willing to change the rules in the middle of the game." He called Santorum's proposals "Ryan on steroids."

© 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Learn more about our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use.

Recently Published by The Skanner News

  • Default
  • Title
  • Date
  • Random
  • WASHINGTON (AP) — One month after the inauguration, the stretch of Pennsylvania Avenue in front of Donald Trump's White House still is a hard-hat zone. Skeletal remains of the inaugural reviewing stands poke skyward. Random piles of plywood and cables are heaped on the ground inside crooked lines of metal fencing. The disarray outside the president's front door, though not his fault, serves as a metaphor for the tumult still unfolding inside. Four weeks in, the man who says he inherited "a mess" at home and abroad is presiding over a White House that is widely described as itself being a mess. At a stunning pace, Trump has riled world leaders and frustrated allies. He was dealt a bruising legal blow on one of his signature policies. He lost his national security adviser and his pick for labor secretary to scandal. He's seen forces within his government push back against his policies and leak confidential information. All of this has played out amid a steady drip of revelations about an FBI investigation into his campaign's contacts with Russian intelligence officials. Trump says his administration is running like a "fine-tuned machine." He points to the rising stock market and the devotion of his still-loyal supporters as evidence that all is well, although his job approval rating is much lower than that for prior presidents in their first weeks in office. Stung by the unrelenting criticism coming his way, Trump dismisses much of it as "fake news" delivered by "the enemy of the people" — aka the press. Daily denunciations of the media are just one of the new White House fixtures Americans are adjusting to. Most days start (and end) with presidential tweets riffing off of whatever's on TV talk shows or teasing coming events or hurling insults at the media. At some point in the day, count on Trump to cast back to the marvels of his upset of Democrat Hillary Clinton in the November election and quite possibly overstate his margins of support. Expect more denunciations of the "dishonest" press and its "fake news." From there, things can veer in unexpected directions as Trump offers up policy pronouncements or offhand remarks that leave even White House aides struggling to interpret them. The long-standing U.S. policy of seeking a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict? Trump this past week offered this cryptic pronouncement: "I'm looking at two-state and one-state, and I like the one that both parties like. I can live with either one." His U.N. ambassador, Nikki Haley, the next day insisted, "We absolutely support a two-state solution." Trump's days are busy. Outside groups troop in for "listening sessions." Foreign leaders call or come to visit. (Or, in the case of Mexico's president, cancel out in pique over Trump's talk about the planned border wall.) After the president signed two dozen executive actions, the White House was awaiting a rush order of more of the gold-plated Cross pens that Trump prefers to the chrome-plated ones used by his predecessor. Trump hands them out as souvenirs at the signing ceremonies that he points to as evidence of his ambitious pace. "This last month has represented an unprecedented degree of action on behalf of the great citizens of our country," Trump said at a Thursday news conference. "Again, I say it. There has never been a presidency that's done so much in such a short period of time." That's all music to the ears of his followers, who sent him to Washington to upend the established order and play the role of disrupter. "I can't believe there's actually a politician doing what he says he would do," says an approving Scott Hiltgen, a 66-year-old office furniture sales broker from River Falls, Wisconsin. "That never happens." Disrupt Trump has. But there may be more sound and fury than substance to many of his early actions. Trump did select Judge Neil Gorsuch to replace the late Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court, a nomination that has drawn strong reviews from conservatives. But the president is regrouping on immigration after federal judges blocked his order to suspend the United States' refugee program and ban visitors from seven Muslim-majority countries, which had caused chaos for travelers around the globe. Some other orders on issues such as the U.S.-Mexico border wall and former President Barack Obama's health care law are of limited effect. Trump says his early actions show he means to deliver on the promises he made during the campaign. "A lot of people say, 'Oh, oh, Trump was only kidding with the wall,'" the president told a group of police chiefs recently. "I wasn't kidding. I don't kid." But the Republican-led Congress is still waiting to see specifics on how Trump wants to proceed legislatively on top initiatives such as replacing the health care law, enacting tax cuts and revising trade deals. The messy rollout of the travel ban and tumult over the ouster of national security adviser Michael Flynn for misrepresenting his contacts with Russia are part of a broader state of disarray as different figures in Trump's White House jockey for power and leaks reveal internal discord in the machinations of the presidency. "I thought by now you'd at least hear the outlines of domestic legislation like tax cuts," says Princeton historian Julian Zelizer. "But a lot of that has slowed. Trump shouldn't mistake the fact that some of his supporters like his style with the fact that a lot of Republicans just want the policies he promised them. He has to deliver that." Put Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., in the camp of those more interested in substance than style. "I'm not a great fan of daily tweets," McConnell said Friday, referring to the "extra discussion" that Trump likes to engage in. But McConnell was quick to add: "What I am a fan of is what he's been actually doing." He credits Trump with assembling a conservative Cabinet and taking steps to reduce government regulation, and promised: "We like his positions and we're going to pursue them as vigorously as we can." The challenge may be to tease out exactly what Trump wants in the way of a health care plan, tax changes and trade policy. At his long and defiant news conference on Thursday, Trump tried to dispel the impression of a White House in crisis, squarely blaming the press for keeping him from moving forward more decisively on his agenda. Pointing to his chief of staff, Reince Priebus, Trump said, "You take a look at Reince, he's working so hard just putting out fires that are fake fires. I mean, they're fake. They're not true. And isn't that a shame because he'd rather be working on health care, he'd rather be working on tax reform." For all the frustrations of his early days as president, Trump still seems tickled by the trappings of his office. When New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie visited the White House last week to discuss the national opioid epidemic over lunch, the governor said Trump informed him: "Chris, you and I are going to have the meatloaf.'" Trump added: "I'm telling you, the meatloaf is fabulous." ___Follow Nancy Benac on Twitter at http://twitter.com/nbenac
    Read More
  • FDR executive order sent 120,000 Japanese immigrants and citizens into camps
    Read More
  • Pruitt's nomination was strongly opposed by environmental groups and hundreds of former EPA employees
    Read More
load morehold SHIFT key to load allload all
Oregon Lottery
Carpentry Professionals
Calendar

PHOTO GALLERY

Reed College Jobs
His Eye is on the Sparrow