Fact Check: Obama and Romney on Social Security

Sep 28, 2012 5:18pm
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The Romney and Obama campaign traded allegations on Social Security today.

Here is a quick fact check.

Romney’s plan raises taxes on Social Security benefits.   FICTION.

This allegation from Vice President Biden today is based on the Tax Policy Center’s analysis that attempts to fill in the blanks on Romney’s promise to 1) cut tax rates by 20 percent; 2) close undisclosed loopholes; and 3) balance the budget.   Romney can be criticized for failing to provide specifics, but that does not make it accurate to invent specifics like this one.  Nowhere has Romney suggested raising taxes on Social Security benefits. In fact, the Romney campaign has explicitly ruled out raising taxes on Social Security benefits.

Seniors face a 25 percent cut in benefits because of “Obama’s failure to lead on this issue.”  FICTION.

This allegation from the Romney campaign today is based on this fact:  The Social Security Administration projects that Social Security will deplete its trust fund in 2033.  After that (and without any changes), Social Security will only have enough money to pay 75 percent of promised benefits.  That means that without new tax increases or more deficit spending, seniors 20 years from now would see their benefits cut by 25 percent.   That doesn’t affect today’s seniors, and it cannot be solely blamed on the President’s failure to lead.   It’s true that President Obama has not offered a plan to address Social Security’s insolvency problem, and this week David Axelrod ducked a question about Social Security on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” saying “this is not the time” to discuss specific reforms to the program. But, after all, Mitt Romney has not offered a plan to fix Social Security either.

Joe Biden voted for higher social Security taxes.  Fact.

This allegation from the Romney campaign is based on the Senate vote on Bill Clinton’s 1993 budget, which raised the amount of Social Security benefits subject to income tax for seniors making more than $34,000 a year.  The revenue goes into the Medicare trust fund. Then-Senator Biden voted for the bill and so did Vice President Al Gore (breaking 50-50 tie).

 

ABC News Jonathan Karl will be leading our factchecking team during the Presidential and Vice Presidential Debates. Beginning with the first debate on Wednesday, Oct. 3, come to abcnews.com for our factchecking live blog and live post-debate analysis show.

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