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  • Morning Bell: "60 Minutes" Contrast Between Romney, Obama on Entitlements

    The official, head-to-head debates begin next week, but Sunday’s “60 Minutes” appearances by President Barack Obama and Governor Mitt Romney (R-MA) provided a contrast in the ideas offered on the nation’s entitlements and spending crisis.

    For his part, the President punted on a serious question about the nation’s concern over spending—blaming everything on President George W. Bush. Instead of addressing the spending question, he waited for the next question about the national debt, which has increased more than 50 percent since he took office. Then came the familiar refrain of why he’s not responsible for Washington’s overspending or the country’s abysmal fiscal situation:

    When I came into office, I inherited the biggest deficit in our history. And over the last four years, the deficit has gone up, but 90 percent of that is as a consequence of two wars that weren’t paid for, as a consequence of tax cuts that weren’t paid for, a prescription drug plan that was not paid for, and then the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.

    These continued excuses ignore the massive increases since the President took office. According to Heritage expert Emily Goff: By fiscal year 2008, the deficit had reached $458.6 billion. The deficit was increasing as Obama came into office, mainly driven by the recession and the first wave of TARP bailouts. But his Administration’s massive stimulus bill sent spending into overdrive and led to a record $1.4 trillion deficit for fiscal year 2009. Deficits have stayed at more than $1 trillion each year since then.

    America’s entitlement programs are the major driver of out-of-control spending. Without reform, they would push federal spending to nearly 36 percent of the economy within a generation. Debt held by the public would explode to nearly 200 percent. Serious structural reforms are inevitable—it is merely a question of how we change what we are doing.

    In his “60 Minutes” interview, Obama glossed over Obamacare’s cuts to Medicare and the resulting costs for seniors.

    Romney, when asked how he would change Social Security, first made clear there should be no changes to benefits for those in or near retirement.

    But he went on:

    What I’d do with Social Security is say this: that again, people with higher incomes won’t get the same high growth rate in their benefits as people with lower incomes. People who rely on Social Security should see the same kind of growth rate they’ve had in the past. But higher income folks would receive a little less.

    As Heritage expert Alison Fraser explains, Social Security is already income-adjusted today. This is called means testing. Benefits are capped for high-income earners, and the calculation of initial benefits a new retiree receives is based on his or her past income. Upper-income retirees pay a much higher tax than those with lower incomes. Romney proposes to extend this income adjusting so that upper-income retirees receive a bit less than they do now.

    While many politicians claim that the only way to address entitlements is to raise taxes or cut benefits, expanding means testing is a serious and sound way to pursue reform.

    These kinds of solutions can be found in Saving the American Dream, Heritage’s blueprint for solving our spending and debt crises. Saving the American Dream lays out solutions like slowly moving to a flat Social Security benefit that keeps seniors out of poverty, means testing Social Security so that very affluent seniors have a reduced benefit, and moving to a more robust means-tested premium support mechanism for Medicare that offers seniors choice and control over their health dollars and better health outcomes.

    Without reforms, entitlement programs will push spending to untenable levels and put undue pressure on vital areas of government such as national defense. The Obama Administration’s comments about reform, like “now is not the time” for fixing Social Security and the need for a “balanced approach,” have been proven hollow by its push for tax hikes on job creators. We have a spending problem, not a revenue problem, and the longer Washington wastes time, the harsher the changes will have to be.

    This debate is vital. To save the American economy and sustain the safety net for those who need it, spending must be reined in and entitlement programs must be reformed.

    Quick Hits:

    • Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, in New York for the U.N. General Assembly, said again yesterday that Israel would be “eliminated.”
    • “A recent series of cyber attacks on Japanese Internet sites originated in China and were viewed as a possible prelude to military action,” reports The Washington Free Beacon.
    • Al Gore’s climate advocacy group is planning a live-streamed online event in November called “The Dirty Weather Report,” pointing the finger at “dirty energy.”
    • The USDA has announced $1.3 billion in payouts for Hispanic and women farmers who believe they have been discriminated against.
    • Heritage investigative reporter Lachlan Markay has a fact check of President Obama’s claims in his “60 Minutes” interview.
    Posted in Obamacare [slideshow_deploy]

    49 Responses to Morning Bell: "60 Minutes" Contrast Between Romney, Obama on Entitlements

    1. glynnda says:

      We can only hope that Romney will go after the president the way he did his opponents during the primaries. If he does, I think we will take the election.

      • Eunice says:

        PLEASE Mitt. Show your true stuff. We need that con man gone or our precious country is going under. God cannot bless a country that turns it's back on Israel. Read your Bible to see that

    2. Norm Terry says:

      Why does everyone call Social Security and Medicare entitlement programs. I think I remember a ton of taxes coming out of my paychecks for these programs. Just saying…..

      • Lawrence Black says:

        Because, since the benefits paid far outweigh any contribution over the recipient's working lifetime, a large proportion of the benefit is paid out of General Tax Revenues. The "lock box" was broken open and emptied many decades ago.

        • Jeanne Stotler says:

          IF these deductions had been handled as the where INTENDED, they would have been invested in T BONDS and therefore making money. LBJ saw the money sitting there and put it in the general fund. An insurance man showed my husband and I,just using his deductions, we could live on the interest and never touch the princple, that was at the rate paid in 1970's. Don't forget your employer also pays into YOUR account, if self employed you PAY DOUBLE. Let's not forget there is a lot of money paid in and benefits never collected when a person dies before retirement, without young children, widows cannot collect until 62 and have to take largest of theirs or husbands NOT BOTH. I know of at least 20 people in this category. Again mismanagemet,IF APRIVATE FIRM, they'd be in Prison .

        • will says:

          Exactly… both programs as they exist today are Ponzi schemes. For Medicare to exist as anything close to what we have today, major funding adjustments will be necessary. This will include vastly higher premiums, higher deductibles and higher copays… from, guess who, those wealthy folks who are being targeted by the current class warfare. These same people will also be called upon to "save" Social Security… but in this case they will pay way more in and then be means tested and get way less out. Every study/commission has pretty much come up with these same conclusions. So wouldn't it make sense to figure out how much money we are going to need to save the entitlements for the most vulnerable before we tap out the only funding source we have with tax increases to fund the Administration's “vote for us" wish list du jour?

        • Seeks_the_truth says:

          Technically, that's not accurate. The amount a participant and their employer pays into Social Security and Medicare is much more than you think.
          The average middle class over their lifetime pay just over $200,000 to SS and Medicare. This is matched by the employer. If this money was placed in a simple interest account, it would pay the average SS claim over their remaining lifetime.
          The average person lives +/- 8 years past retirement.
          You also need to remember the new groups to retire are now retiring no earlier than 65. In a few years it will be the 67 year olds.

        • We've Been Cheated says:

          The benefits paid do not "far outweigh" any contribution.
          My current return on my contributions is less than 2%. Had the money been invested in Treasury Bills, or even a passbook savings account I would be receiving double my current return.
          The only people getting a high return are those who paid almost nothing.
          Democrat politicians lied to us our entire lives about how Social Security would be there to take care of us when we reached retirement age.
          Now the same or similar Democrat politicians want to just turn it into another giveaway/vote-buying scheme.
          There never was a lockbox. It was a Ponzi scheme from the start.

      • DelRae Driggers says:

        Social Security is not an entitlement program, we all (rich and poor) paid into it all our lives! If the government had not borrowed so much money from it, SS would still be strong. Also, how many people are collecting from SS and Medicare that never paid a dime into it????????

      • Sonie says:

        I agree with Norm, and I would challenge the way to calculate Medicare payments is to look at the last working year's income. This should be done with reason. We have been devastated by this economy and my husband"s forced early retirement and live on 1/4 of what his income was. So, we are also struggling, and to take more out of our Social Security doesn't seem right! Look at their income level in retirement and make adjustments accordingly. If the person has a cush pension and loads of monthly income, then you adjust and means test, billing them more per month for Medicare and taxing them more. Actually, if we reformed the tax code to the Fair Tax, this would definitely level the field.

    3. toledofan says:

      We have some serious problems that need to be fixed, yet we have a Democratic Party just hellbent on spending more money, creating more spending and keeping their heads buried in the sand to let someone else fix them later. It's been almost four years and there have been, maybe, less than a big handful, follow up questions forcing Obama to tell the truth or to explain exactly what his plans are. Nobody has really put him in the hot seat to explain what the heck direction he's going; it's obvious that his entire agenda is about redistrubution and making America just another country just like everyone else, it's sad that people support this and still think Obama is doing a good job.

      • roger34202 says:

        Don’t forget AARP. It is controlled by bureaucratic liberals and it totally ignores their members wishes. Members were opposed to Obamacare 16-1. Still AARP not only supported it, they were (ir?)- responsible in large for it passing. They initiated thousands of robo calls -in response to a White House request – in Kansas. Result: the Cornhusker Kickback. They were in cahoots with the White House on this!

    4. Michael Bulger says:

      So the mainstream media passed on obama again. When are they going to just look at him and ask him "Why didn't you answer the question?"

    5. Stillfree says:

      I am 65 years old and I believe the solution to our debt problems is to follow the constitution. That would be painful to do all at once, therefore all entitlements would have to be phased out over a long period of time. People who paid in to a system should receive what they paid for, but younger people should be able to opt out. In addition, we need some real reforms to healthcare. Insurance should be something rarely used, just like other kinds of insurance. We need to turn out more doctors and nurse practitioners and make the practice more competitive. In summary, if the Fed is exercising a power it is not granted under the constitution, it should come to an end. The Commerce Clause excuse has worn very thin. It's time to start purging the Supreme Court of activist judges. Some of them don't pass the smell test, much less the legal test.

      • Mike says:

        Gotcha. I'm 66. Good insight. To it I add a couple of ideas. A transition always takes more spending: the same level of spending is required for the status quo and then additional spending is required through the transition period. For a nation teetering on the brink of default where does the additional money come from?

        Part of it is GDP growth. Thereare elements of Romney's plan that will help with that are tax reform, regulatory reduction, and tax simplification. But I think a HUGE help will be to open up the energy reserves of this nation, which will create over 1 million energy sector jobs and the corresponding reduction in energy costs will add many more.

        But how do we get started? The federal government has a ton of assets that are unused … empty buildings and land. Rather than means testing SS, why not offer an asset for benefits swap. If people want to come off of the SS roles then the federal government will give them assets to do that. That provides instant cash flow relief. Regulations take $2 trillion from the economy every year. Take a meat clever to the regulatory apparatus and that puts a ton of "free money" into the economy.

        I hope Romney the business man is looking at all the nation's assets to see how they can best be applied to the problems at hand.

    6. Lloyd Scallan says:

      Not only is the contrast starkly different in the visions both Obama and Romney have for the future of this nation, but the obvious difference in the way the question were posed to each. Again, "60 minutes" showed their leftest bias they have always had. Obama just looks into the camera, lies and distorts, yet he is never challenged. Romney is just a lost ball in tall weeds. The one the established GOP hand picked to run, despite being the weakest of the bunch, What a wonderful choice we have to choose from!

    7. Dale says:

      Why is the Social Security "Basic Cause" ever mentioned? Our elected leaders "borrowed" $'s from this great fund and never paid it back

    8. Curt Krehbiel says:

      The biggest problem facing Heritage and the rest of these United States is the coming election. If Obama gets four more years this country is doomed by his own admission.

    9. JD Mars says:

      Obama inherited a government built over generations. Every President does. But what the "anointed one"
      has shown by his "executive leadership" is to take our government and ramp it UP like no President since LBJ. 50 years ago we could afford it. Not today. We need a fundamental change in thinking of our relationship between the individual and govt. Obama and the DNC just wish to extend govt into more and more areas of our lives(the old tired course of the past 50-60 years). This policy has proven not only ineffective but is anathema to the ideals this country was founded on.

      It is my hope Romney -Ryan can break this destructive cycle. We need people in Washington who truly believe individual drive and intiative for our country. The corrosive hand of the state and the tyranny of
      the collective is all the colonialist Obama understands.

      • Eunice says:

        Yes I'm so tired of BIG government & them sticking their noses in everything. 2 classic examples. My high school parents formed a Booster Club for our Hockey & Soccer programs because they need extra help $ wise. The Government says it has to be 1 booster club for all sports. 2. Our Historical Society needs a home for our City History. The city says we can go in the basement of our Tourism Building. Perfect fit. The government says no because they gave a partial grant to it. Get out of every phase of our lives. We can't breathe any more without the government telling us when & how.

    10. Blair Franconia, NH says:

      Obama wants more entitlements. Romney wants fewer entitlements. That's the difference I see between Romney
      and Obama.

      • Mike says:

        We have to distinguish between programs and funding. I agree with the assessment that Romney wants to spend less on the entitlement programs. I'm not so sure we will have fewer of them, which is really what we need, when he is done.
        Lowering the funding of them is a good thing and will help, but like a noxious weed that will grow back. Eradicating them is necessary for the long-term prosperity of the nation.

      • Social Security and Medicare are a horrible investment, Romney is blowing this BIG TIME! 9-9-9 Let me put more money in my 401K instead of fleecing me with Social Security Benefits someone will soon decide I don't deserve because I saved for my own retirement while paying for a Ponzi Scheme!

    11. Mike says:

      "While many politicians claim that the only way to address entitlements is to raise taxes or cut benefits, expanding means testing is a serious and sound way to pursue reform."

      Markets work because they send signals about pricing and benefits. ALL government intrusion into the affairs of people and business alter these signals and lead ultimately to problems. There are other issues that the structure of the current SS program creates, such as the opportunity for political mischief by DC or intergenerational wealth transfer.

      Two elements of a real fix are to devolve this program to the states, and make people responsible for their own retirement savings.

    12. Ernest Wilson says:

      I would like Governor Romney to reply to two of the worst lies that his oponents use. The proposition that the current economic situation was caused by President Bush's policies is completely wrong. Excess credit and the democratic policy of requiring bad loans caused the bubble and the subsequent crash. Why does no-one make this argument?

      The second issue is who can best invest, the government or private interests striving for a return on the investment?Obama continues to argue that government must "invest". The answer is so obvious as to be self evident. Private investment built this country. Does Romney not believe this or not know it or simply thinks it to complex to use?

    13. and2therepublic says:

      Social Security was intended by the progressives to break the back of America. It is unconstitutional. It is like a malignant tumor that needs surgical removal, radiation, and chemotherapy. After this intervention, the prognosis is favorable. Without it, America R.I.P.

      • SilentCalFan says:

        The stated purpose of Social Security was to prevent destitution among the elderly, a goal which virtually all would agree with. The problem is that SS benefits are paid to many, perhaps half of seniors, who don't need the money. The result is a reverse Robin Hood phenomenon: taxes are taken from struggling young workers and transferred to relatively affluent seniors. A rational solution to this problem is means-testing: reduce or eliminate SS payments to those (like me) who don't need the money. If serious means-testing is put in place, not only can we get SS out of the red, we could even reduce the SS tax burden on young workers.

    14. exteach says:

      Notice how the interview on "Sixty Minutes" placed Romney and the interviewer directly across from each other and the questions were accusatory in nature. Conversely, when Obama was interviewed, Obama was standing up and appeared to tower over the interviewer who looked up to him in a respectful (worshipful) manner. Republicans always seem to run against two opponents; the political one and the press. The press has constitutional protections to assure they cannot be pressured by outside sources, but when they become biased and openly root for one candidate they should be stripped of their protection.

    15. Bobbie says:

      Obama wants control of people. Romney wants freedom for people. Obama sees subjects, Romney respects people.

      That's right, Mr. President. It's all George Bush's fault and why we're going to have to replace you for all your faults added to and your unwillingness to conduct the American way free from discriminating race, creed or culture. We have to leave the lesser of men out who compromise principle that better men wouldn't think to do but you put on your puss a look of disdain to intimidate those that are principled.

      This man has more connections with government throughout his life. He took a position in the senate before he became president just to give the impression he could fix what he said he would, only to claim it is worse then he thought? That shows the ultimate incompetence and ignorance of a man that doesn't have America in his best interest and he wants more time to continue to get his job done behind the backs of the gullible.

      What's fair to Obama is what's fair to Obama. It's not his role to determine! We the people determine what's fair between us.

      Mr. Romney is much more fair to the country where Obama's excuses don't fit in. Obama's sidekick Jay Carney said (paraphrasing) "a man should be an open book to become president?" Does that mean Obama is a hypocrite and not a man?

    16. GetReal says:

      When has Obama ever said he wanted MORE entitlements? You right wingers need to stop sterotyping like Romney did with his 47% vicitms who take no responsibility for themselves. Obama is for reform of entiltement but not the elimination of them. It is easy for Romney and Ryan both born to wealthly families to speak for wiping out the "helping hand" but if they or any of you have ever needed the assistance of these "entitlment" programs to help through a difficult time you might be singing another tune.

      And who knows what Romney really believes? The say anything to get elected, flip my position to please the right-wing fanatics candidate will be just a puppet to the GOP. It is obvious that the man stands for NOTHING but making $$ and hiding it and god help America if the puppet of the tea party becomes president! But I almost hope you guys get what you asked for: another war(s), middle class gone, inability to get health insurance (except the very wealthy who can afford it or the 100% healthly who don't really need it) …

      • Brad S., Detroit says:

        Another hate-filled, fact-absent tirade of a liberal. Just because you disagree with someone, doesn't mean they're wrong, which is the conclusion you come to in your 2 paragraphs. Please provide to me a fact-filled, objective reason to vote for Obama. The real unemployment number – if you count all of the people that stopped looking for work, ran out of unemployment, applied for and received Social Security Disability benefits, college graduates who have not yet officially entered the work-force, et al, you get to around 15% – so it doubled under this President's watch. Obama has proven that he cannot fix the problem of the economy even with the ridiculous over-spending. My vote goes to the candidate(s) that are promising to stop the growth of government. Government does not create jobs. Government does not create wealth. They must first take from others to give to someone else. And – yes – I wrote that.

      • Eunice says:

        Look at his record. Look at what he has done as President. EVERYTHING about the man shows he's arrogant, pompous, self-important, whiner, blame everybody but himself. Remember his own words. If I don't eliminate the deficit in 4 years I don't deserve to be re-elected. Take him at his word. FIRE HIM. He has failed. If you hired someone to run your business (country) and he put it in the ground financially
        & blamed someone else what would you do. My business he would be gone. 4 years is long enough. It's the economy & we're not stupid. I'm voting Republican.

    17. The only solution that will ever work is to take all entitlement programs out of the hands of the government and put them in the hands of the people. Any program that receives payments from the people for future benefits is not an entitlement. If the government or employer subsidies social security or a pension or a retirement program and it ends up short of money when those benefits come due it is the government's fault for not preparing itself to pay for those future obligations. Welfare, food stamps and disability programs or any other programs that pay for benefits out of taxes or other government revenues, are again, the government's responsibility to manage. It they can't manage either, which seems to be the case, then that responsibility should be given to someone or some organization that can manage them.

    18. Jeanne Stotler says:

      Mr. President, You promised that an audite of all government agencies, would be conducted on a “LINE BY LINE” well this never happened, instead it was SPEND,SPEND, SPEND, lie drunken sailor. Our Govement waste has been terrible, and has only gotten worse under your watch, this is why I am handing you a “Pink slip” and replacing you with a man who knows you cut waste girst then you look for things that just don’t wok or not worth the cost, after all this is how you start to build a new future. You cut our space program, we now rely on Russia to get our men home safely, DID YOU REALLY LOOK AT THEIR PROGRAM?? Now you want to weaken us further by cutting our defenses, do you KNOW WHAT THIS WILL DO TO USA ECONOMY??

    19. Mike Yap says:

      As a Plebe at West Point there were only four acceptable answers: 1) Yes Sir, 2) No Sir, 3) No excuse Sir and 4) Sir, I do not understand. Note that no where do you find the answer that it was someone else's fault. We were made to understand that we were accountable as individuals. Somehow the President never learned that lesson.

    20. Dr. Henry Sinopoli says:

      Really when you discuss entitlements you cannot eliminate the biggest entitlement class in our society…politicians. They take, are unproductive, spend, without producing anything. Fundamentally, there is really no difference in either Obama or Romney…As long as right-wing, or left-wing groups continue to find ways to splinter society…we will continue to chase our own tail…

      Don't worry…I know this will not be printed…

      • Bobbie says:

        There's a big difference between Obama and Romney! Obama doesn't hold truth. Romney lives on truth! Obama's past is hidden. Romney's is an open book!! Obama doesn't give reason to be trusted. Romney gives us hope! Obama and those communist organizer strategists that look up to him have been splinting society for years…

        ps, I gave you a thumbs up any way…

    21. lizaz says:

      Speaking of huge increases…you need to check out the increases in drug copays for seniors in the 2013 Medicare RX plan D. My annual drug cot increases 431%..although mine are generic and not too expensive, for some seniors with more expensive drugs, this can be really difficult. No new taxes on the middle class, they have said, but they forgot to tell us about having to pay a lot more for drugs.

      • Eunice says:

        I wonder if people realize his obama care is going to be paid for by taxes that will hit the MIDDLE class that he claims he’s for the hardest. It’s constitutional because it’s a tax. A tax that won’t start until after the election because if it started now people would wake up & defeat him & eliminate the joke care.
        This is taxes on every little thing that we use every day.

    22. J E Houser says:

      Spending is already at a untenable level. Stop sending money to our enemies. Pay government wage recipients in an amount consistent with private employment. Put government pay recipients into Social Security. Reduce federal govt to only those areas specifically authorized by the Constitution. The only increase in government spending should be for national security.

    23. sharpshorts says:

      "…Then came the familiar refrain of why he’s not responsible for Washington’s overspending or the country’s abysmal fiscal situation…"

      If Obama is not responsible the I guess that makes him irresponsible…

    24. Chuck says:

      A suggestion for handling the Social Security time bomb: Send some real fiscal experts down to Chile and have them study and understand the Chilean system which is far more successful than ours and then BRING THAT SYSTEM BACK HERE!!!!!!

    25. Brian says:

      I am trying to remain patient as the President blasts Romney without much in the way of a response. Maybe that is just the liberal media filtering their coverage (e.g. the 47% comment that sounded very objective and not elitist). I hope that Romney has a lot of issue dry powder and policies that he is going to unleash at the upcoming debates and in his interaction with undecided voters.

      I hope it is not that he is just too good a person to compete with the President. I would like to see him call for a massive charitable effort by wealthy Americans to redress the sufferings of others that have been devastated by the President's pathetic economic policies–a legitimate expanded private sector alternative to government wealth redistribution tax policies. Romney seems unwilling to compromise a character strength of humility but he needs to, in my opinion, advance a grass roots, faith based outreach to counteract the socialist solutions advanced by this administration, or we are doomed in the second term.

      The economy argument needs a v.2 release because, as real as it is, it is a tired story and the President/Bernanke are throwing printed dollars everywhere, and the press is painting an illusion of recovery.

      I pray that we will begin to see some accurate polling results that will energize the Republican cause before it is too late in both the presidential and congressional elections.

    26. Steve Weber says:

      9/24/2012 The Wall Street Journal today gives a very in-depth article on this interview and it gives a lot of very specific figures about the current situation the article is called "The 10% President"

    27. Mike, Wichita Falls says:

      "expanding means testing is a serious and sound way to pursue reform"

      Conservatives are frequently accused of being rigid idealogues who do not compromise and will not embrace even a hint of socialism, yet here we are proposing socialistic ways to save it for the truly needy. Yes, I do wish SS had not been enacted, at least not at the federal level, but now that we have it, let's make it live up to its name. Security is not $20T in unfunded liabilities.

    28. Transparency at its best.

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