The Obameter

Oppose efforts to privatize Social Security

"And we will keep the promise of Social Security, strengthen it, but we won't turn it over to Wall Street."


Updates

Social Security avoided privatization moves during Obama's tenure

When we last provided an update of Barack Obama's pledge to "keep the promise of Social Security, strengthen it, (and not) turn it over to Wall Street," we noted that it was an unusual promise because it was a pledge to protect the status quo. Our dilemma: determining exactly when to declare it a Promise Kept.

Now, with time running out on Obama's tenure in the White House, it has become clear that there will not be any privatization of Social Security -- either partially or fully -- on his watch.

As we noted previously, ever since President George W. Bush tried and failed to create personal investment accounts under Social Security in 2005, Congress hasn't moved seriously to create private accounts.

That pattern has continued to hold.

"There were no serious attempts in Congress during the Obama administration to privatize Social Security, even though such plans were included in Paul Ryan's Roadmap for America's Future in 2010," said Walter Gottlieb, a spokesman for the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare.

Despite the lack of high-profile efforts to add aspects of privatization to Social Security, Gottlieb lauded the administration for remaining vigilant on the issue. "The Obama administration unwaveringly opposed privatization throughout the president's time in office," he said.

For the purposes of the Obameter, it is finally time to declare this a Promise Kept.

Sources:

Email interview with Walter Gottlieb, spokesman for the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare, Dec. 9, 2016

'Privatizers' aren't exactly on the warpath, but Obama reiterates pledge

During the 2012 presidential campaign, President Barack Obama promised to "keep the promise of Social Security, strengthen it, but (not) turn it over to Wall Street."

This is something of an odd promise, since it's a promise to protect the status quo. We are left with a dilemma: At what point do we declare it a Promise Kept?

The reality is that, ever since President George W. Bush tried and failed to create personal investment accounts under Social Security in 2005, Congress hasn't moved seriously to create private accounts, even with the House in the hands of Republicans -- the party that has generally been more favorable toward this idea.

So it's not as if Obama has been valiantly protecting the Social Security status quo; the status quo hasn't really been under serious attack.

That said, the release of Obama's fiscal year 2015 budget proposal does offer something small but tangible to address this promise: He reiterates this promise.

"The president is strongly opposed to privatizing Social Security and looks forward to working in a bipartisan way to strengthen the program for future generations," the budget proposal says.

This isn't much, but it does at least remind the American public that Obama is on the case. We'll defer judgment on making this a Promise Kept. For now, we'll label it In the Works.

Sources:

Barack Obama, fiscal year 2015 budget proposal, March 4, 2014