There has been surprisingly little discussion about the future of Social Security in the ongoing presidential election campaign, leaving questions about what the candidates will actually do if elected.
Democrat Hillary Clinton’s position seems to depend upon her audience:
- “I won’t cut Social Security. … I’ll defend it, and I’ll expand it.” www.hillaryclinton.com, February 5, 2016.
- “In lucrative paid speeches that Hillary Clinton delivered to elite financial firms but refused to disclose to the public, she displayed an easy comfort with titans of business, embraced unfettered international trade and praised a budget-balancing plan that would have required cuts to Social Security, according to documents posted online Friday by WikiLeaks.” The New York TImes, Leaked Speech Excerpts Show a Hillary Clinton at East with Wall Street, Oct. 7, 2016.
Republican Donald Trump’s position is vague. He seems to promise not to cut Social Security for existing recipients but certainly does not commit himself to expansion of the program.
- “I’m going to save Social Security. You have tremendous waste, fraud and abuse. We have in Social Security thousands of people over 106 years old. You know they don’t exist. There’s tremendous waste, fraud and abuse, and we’re going to get it. But we’re not going to hurt the people who have been paying into Social Security their whole life and then all of a sudden they’re supposed to get less. We’re bringing jobs back.” Source: 2016 CBS Republican primary debate in South Carolina, Feb 13, 2016
The fate of Social Security is vital to 40 million retired Americans, including 21% of married couples and about 43% of unmarried persons who rely on Social Security for 90% or more of their income.
Of course, what politicians promise during the election season is not always what they deliver. President Barack Obama promised the following and then did the reverse:
- “Obama will fight job discrimination for aging employees by strengthening the Age Discrimination in Employment Act … .” Source: Blueprint for Change (2008).
Two years later, President Obama signed an executive order that carves out an exception to the ADEA that permits the nation’s largest employer, the federal government, to discriminate on the basis of age in hiring for federal jobs. This was done in plain sight but there was no protest – nor indeed any comment – from the AARP, which is busy mining its treasure trove of older members through the sales of Medigap health insurance and licensing agreements. And Obama’s administration has ignored the epidemic of age discrimination in hiring that has forced millions of older workers out of the workplace and into an uncertain and ill-advised retirement.