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The Hill (Washington, DC)

Bernie Sanders to Obama: Keep Your Word on Social Security

Bernie Becker

The Senate’s left flank continues to be unhappy with President Obama’s willingness to discuss entitlement reform in the current deficit talks. 

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) noted Tuesday in a speech on the Senate floor that Obama had vowed not to cut Social Security when running for president in 2008.

“So, Mr. President, when you ask why the American people are frustrated with politicians, and are increasingly cynical, it has a lot to do with candidates who say one thing and do another thing,” Sanders said. “If you told the American people you're not going to cut Social Security, then don't cut Social Security. Keep your word.”

Other liberal senators, like Ohio's Sen. Sherrod Brown, have criticized the president for considering changes to Medicare.

But in all, Democrats aren’t exactly on the same page as to what is currently on the table in the debt talks, which have an aim of reaching a deal that would allow Congress to raise the debt ceiling by Aug. 2.

On Tuesday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said he was only willing to look at Medicare or Medicaid within the context of the grand deal that Obama and House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) were once willing to strike. Boehner backed away from that sort of the bargain over the weekend because of differences on tax revenue. 

For his part, Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), House minority whip, stressed after Monday’s deficit talks that Democrats have been willing to discuss any and everything in the discussions.

In a Tuesday release, Sanders’s office also pushed the argument that Social Security was not driving deficits, and slammed the proposal to link benefits to chained CPI, a slower inflation measure. Such a move would lead to decreases in beneficiaries’ cost-of-living adjustments.

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