Now that America’s Presidential Debates are designed as entertainment television (as described here by CNN Moderator Jake Tapper) and not an actual debate of the issues voters need to hear about before choosing our next President...it’s probably no surprise that Social Security & Medicare just aren’t considered sexy enough for any serious attention.
In response to the only question asked last night about the nation’s most successful government programs, Donald Trump told the audience he’ll give up his benefits because he doesn’t need them (Ben Carson made the same suggestion earlier in the week). So, you have to wonder -- is asking rich people to voluntarily give up their Social Security and Medicare now considered a serious GOP policy plan? Maybe every American millionaire will be asked to email 10 of their country club friends to pledge to give up their benefits, too? No one is forced to apply for their Social Security now, so how is this even vaguely a solution?
Meanwhile, since Governor Chris Christie staked his campaign on the idea of being tough on “entitlements” he continued to push his plan to slash benefits by ignoring actuarial reports from every legitimate government entity including the Congressional Budget Office and the Social Security actuary. Christie claimed last night that Social Security will be insolvent in just “7 to 8 years.”
The truth is the Social Security Trust fund will be depleted in two decades and only pay 79% at that point, if Congress does absolutely nothing. But that’s not the same as Social Security is “broke” and Social Security is “insolvent.” At the bare minimum, a President of the United States needs to understand the difference.
Finally, while this didn’t happen in last night’s debate, Carly Fiorina recently offered a truly unique approach to her plans for Social Security and Medicare as President...it’s a secret until I’m in the White House.
"I am not prepared to go to the American people and talk to them about how we're going to reform Social Security and Medicare,’ Fiorina told CNBC's John Harwood in an interview published Wednesday, ‘until I can demonstrate to them that the government can execute with excellence, perform its responsibilities with excellence, serve the people who pay for it with excellence.’
Harwood was impressed. ‘That is a dodge worthy of a very good politician,’ he told the former Hewlett-Packard CEO.
Fiorina denied that she had just dodged. ‘I am deadly serious,’ she said.”
No doubt she’s deadly serious about not addressing the issue now or talking about her already expressed plans to cut Social Security offered during the California Senate campaign in 2010:
"I'm prepared to look at any and all ideas without stating at this point which I would favor and which I would not. We have to have a comprehensive look at entitlement reform, including Social Security reform." Carly Fiorina, 2010
“... I believe that to deal with entitlement reform, which we must deal with, we ought to put every possible solution up on the table...” Carly Fiorina, Fox News 2010
So basically, once President Fiorina is confident she’s an excellent President then she’ll tell you about her plans to cut Social Security and Medicare benefits.
But only then...