David Axelrod ran into a buzz saw this morning, and on MSNBC, of all places. Time’s Mark Halperin asks a rather predictable question of Axelrod, noting that Barack Obama never mentioned Social Security reform in his 60 Minutes interview last night (and Steve Kroft apparently never asked about it, either). Where’s the plan, Halperin asks — and Axelrod makes not one but two huge gaffes in answering:
TIME’s MARK HALPERIN: “David – Social Security came up last night on ‘60 Minutes.’ Let me ask you in a second term, what is the president proposing to do to reform Social Security, save it for future generations, and will it involve lower benefits for anyone or higher taxes for anyone?”
OBAMA ADVISER DAVID AXELROD: “Well I think that there, too, Mark, the approach has to be a balanced one. We’ve had discussions in the past. And the question is, can you raise the cap some? Right now Social Security cuts off at a lower point. Can you raise the cap so people in the upper incomes are paying a little more into the program? And do you adjust the growth of the program. That’s a discussion worth having. But again we have to approach it in a balanced way. We’re not going to cut our way to prosperity. We’re not going to cut our way to more secure entitlement programs – Social Security and Medicare. We have to have a balance.”
HALPERIN: “So what is his proposal?”
AXELROD: “Mark, I’ll tell you what, when you get elected to the United States Senate and sit at that table — this is not the time. We’re not going to have that discussion right now unless the Congress wants to sit at a table and says okay we’re ready to move on a balanced approach to this. The reality of Social Security is this is a much less imminent problem than Medicare. We have extended the life of Medicare for close to a decade through the changes that we’ve made and Governor Romney wants to repeal. But Social Security is a more distant problem. One that needs a solution. But it isn’t as pressing as a Medicare issue.”
First, Axelrod insists that “this is not the time” to have a proposal to address the critical unfunded liabilities of Social Security. Really? Isn’t an election a time to discuss plans for the nation’s future, especially on pressing fiscal issues? Furthermore, Obama has been president for most of four years now, and Axelrod is all but admitting that Obama hasn’t got a plan at all on this issue. He’s tossing the issue back to Congress, and in his snotty way telling Mark Halperin that he doesn’t have any standing even to ask the question.
Next, Axelrod admits that Medicare is a bigger problem. That’s true, but that’s not been the position of the Obama administration. They keep claiming that ObamaCare has fixed the problem in the short term and bent the cost curve downward over the long term. Now Axelrod admits to reality, which is that ObamaCare didn’t help save Medicare at all — and that it’s on the same decade-long trajectory to collapse as it was when Obama took office.
What have we found out from today’s episode of Morning Joe? Obama has wasted four years while the entitlement collapse continued to pick up steam, and even after four years, he still doesn’t have a plan to address it.