May 13, 2005

Bush Flip Flops on Social Security Disability Benefit

President Bush ....

Q And I'm disabled, and I just wondered if there's going to an intensified program into some of the disability benefits that they have now.


Q Okay. (Laughter.) Whatever program that you put out for Social Security I'm fully behind it. You have my support.

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you, ma'am. (Applause.) I appreciate that. Yes, ma'am. Her question was -- see, there is a Social Security benefit as a part of -- there is a disability benefit as a part of Social Security. It won't change. We're talking about the retirement aspect of Social Security.
Vs. President Bush ....

WASHINGTON - Future Social Security retirement benefits for disabled workers is a matter for negotiations with Congress as it drafts solvency legislation, the Bush administration said Thursday, declining to say whether they should be raised, lowered or left unchanged.

"Any plan that maintains current disability benefits will need to address the transition to retirement, and those details will be worked out through the legislative process," said White House spokesman Trent Duffy.

President Bush went from ‘it won’t change’ to ‘disability benefits will need to address’.

At the same time, he has spoken favorably of a solvency plan that would curtail the growth of retirement benefits for middle-income and higher-income workers of the future.

That leaves open the issue of future retirement benefits for disabled workers.

Duffy said the administration is not proposing to adjust future retirement benefits for the disabled in the same way as it wants them changed for the non-disabled. "Those two populations will be treated differently," he said.

At the same time, he declined to say there would be no change.

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi released the following statement on the President's Social Security.

"Just two weeks ago, President Bush assured Americans that disability benefits would not be cut under his privatization plan. Yesterday, a White House spokesman said disability cuts are still on the table. Either disability benefits will be cut or they won't be. Which is it, Mr. President?

"The White House also confirmed this week that benefits would be cut for the middle class and for survivors.

"Social Security has given millions of Americans the opportunity to live with dignity and independence, and Democrats will not walk away from our commitment to ensuring that families receive the benefits they have earned.

"In order to push through his risky privatization plan, the President has proposed slashing benefits for middle-class families, cutting benefits for widows and children, and trillions of dollars in additional debt. Despite the high cost of privatization, the President's misleading plan makes the challenge facing Social Security worse, not better.

"Democrats stand ready to strengthen Social Security on a bipartisan basis as we did in 1983 when Speaker Tip O'Neill joined with President Reagan for the common good. In that spirit, we urge the President to begin considering proposals that strengthen Social Security in a way that does not gut benefits for middle-class families and does not jeopardize the economic security of those struggling to make ends meet when faced with disability or death."
Again, Which is it, Mr. President?

As a person who receives Social Security disability benefits, I want to know. Are you a man of you word or a flip flopper?


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