On Tuesday evening, Governor Mitch Daniels of Indiana gave the Republican response to President Obama’s State of the Union. While raising valid concerns about fiscal discipline and the country’s economic challenges, Governor Daniels portrayal of current efforts to restore our economy were misleading and his approaches to protecting our Social Security and Medicare would, in reality, undermine them.
He explains that Social Security and Medicare have "served us well" since their creation but they are in need of "some repairs" which he goes on to explain would include fashioning a "new affordable safety net." His carefully worded recommendations call to fundamentally transform Social Security and Medicare, including means testing the programs. While on it face this recommendation sounds appealing and in the interest of middle class and low-income Americans, in reality it would cost more than it saves by undermining the program's universal appeal and support. Furthmore claims that Social Security is bankrupt are false. Social Security has a $2.6 trillion surplus and can pay full benefits through 2036 without any changes. Relatively modest changes can be made that would place the program on sound financial footing for 75 years and beyond. In additiion, Gov. Daniels call to fundamentally transform Social Security for our country's younger Americans when they retire failed to recognize that Social Security is more than a retirement program. Nearly 7 million children receive part of their family income from Social Security today and rely on it as a safeguard against poverty every day.
Governor Daniels raised valid concerns about addressing the country’s deficit. Generations United supports fiscal discipline to ensure that our nation satisfies its debts. It must, however, be done in a responsible way that ensures it does not fall on the backs of our nation’s most vulnerable children, youth, and older adults.
Lastly, Gov. Daniels urged a renewed commitment to growing the private sector to help rebuild our economy. We at Generations United strongly support investing in our country’s economy and people. We believe these investments are not limited to creating “real jobs”; they also include creating opportunities for vulnerable people to overcome hunger and poverty, extending the right for today’s youth to continue their education through college, and for today’s older adults to receive affordable health care on a fixed income. If we fail to support these programs, which are needed more than ever in today’s economy, we fail our commitment to the generations before us and after us. That is why Generations United supports our safety net programs and services that help people get back on their feet again. As Gov. Daniels said, our society must protect its vulnerable. We look out for one another, because we’re stronger together.