Some statements Rep. Michele Bachmann made this weekend have many wondering: Just what does she want to do with Social Security and Medicare?
Liberal bloggers at Think Progress attended the Constitutional Coalition’s annual conference in St. Louis and took note when the Stillwater Republican said that we should “wean” future generations off of the two programs -- a statement that has become fodder for MSNBC and liberal blogs who say she wants to abolish Social Security and Medicare.
Unfortunately there is no video or other transcript of the event, so the Think Progress article is the only source.
Bachmann started by explaning that “unfunded net liabilities” for “Social Security and Medicare and all the rest” amount to $107 trillion. She cited Glenn Beck for the $107 trillion figure, though it is not a new number in conservative circles (no one was available at the Social Security Administration to walk me through the math).
She said this means that there needs to be "a reorganization of all that, Social Security and all."
“So, what you have to do, is keep faith with the people that are already in the system, that don’t have any other options, we have to keep faith with them,” Bachmann said. “But basically what we have to do is wean everybody else off. And wean everybody off because we have to take those unfunded net liabilities off our bank sheet, we can’t do it.”
In other words: Allow people already in the system to continue receiving benefits, but divert the rest of the population from the programs. But does that mean those younger Americans shouldn’t eventually get Medicare and Social Security? Bachmann spokester Dave Dziok says Bachmann wants to reform the programs, not eliminate them.
“When she used the world ‘weaning’ people off of Social Security and all that, what she said is she’s weaning people off how it is in its current form and we’ve got to find other ways to administer these programs,” Dziok said. “She’s all for Social Security, all for Medicare and all that – so we don’t want to see that go away.”
If Bachmann meant that, she could have made it a lot clearer in her speech (though again, we only have a partial transcript).
So what is she proposing as a fix? Dziok said there are many possible fixes to examine for both programs -- among them a proposal by Rep. Paul Ryan that would partially privatize Social Security.
“To be 100% fair, there’s not like the Bachmann solution to Social Security out there right now,” Dziok said. “But she’s at least getting the point out there that we need to find these other ways and bring all options onto the table to see what’s best.”
So far her opponent Maureen Reed seems to be paying attention. The Reed campaign blasted this statement today:
"Michele Bachmann’s prognosticating that there is one particular thing to do, without taking into consideration the other factors in play, or even addressing the specifics of exactly what her proposal would entail, is nothing more than another political ploy aimed at making headlines instead of caring for the needs of her constituents," wrote campaign
spokester Trevor Willett manager Jason Isaacson.