To Balance a Budget: As Easy as Cutting Waste, Fraud and Abuse?
Sen. Blumenthal on Entitlements: Don't Touch Social Security or Medicare.
March 17, 2011 -- Senator Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., says when it comes to balancing the budget, you better not touch Social Security.
"I believe that we should not be balancing the budget on the backs of people who are most vulnerable and who need government assistance most," Blumenthal told ABC News. "I think that we will need to address Social Security if the current trends continue sometime after the next ten years or so but not as part of dealing with the deficit."
In the latest installment of ABC News' "Subway Series" with Senior Political Correspondent Jonathan Karl, Sen. Blumenthal said balancing could be as easy as eliminating waste and fraud.
While cutting Social Security long has been seen as politically perilous, a new ABC News/Washington Post poll shows the tide may turning. Forty-six percent of those surveyed support trimming early-retirement benefits, up 10 points from six years ago; and 42 percent favor raising the retirement age for full benefits from 67 to 68 – up 9 points from 2005.
Blumenthal, however, thinks Social Security is fine as it is.
"Social Security will be solvent between now and the year 2037 and if we are embroiled in trying to cut Social Security while balancing the budget, we will do neither," the Connecticut Democrat told ABC News.
Despite widespread criticism of President Obama for not addressing entitlement reform in his recent budget proposal, Blumenthal expressed confidence that Obama would begin leading the conversation about cutting the deficit soon.
"[The President] has set down a marker," Blumenthal said. "He has provided a beginning for reducing our debt and our deficit, and I'm certainly going to be advocating for even stronger measures."
The stronger measures Blumenthal speaks of involve combating waste, fraud and abuse in Medicare.
"Look, I pursued waste and fraud in Medicare over 10 years as attorney general," Blumenthal said of his tenure in Connecticut. "What we have won back from waste and fraud is just the tip of the iceberg, just a drop in the bucket. And I think there are hundreds of millions of dollars, maybe a trillion, in waste and fraud in Medicare that we can recover."