State of Nebraska Archives: on Social Security


Ben Sasse: Entitlement reform needed: guilty of generational theft

The Republican candidates gave a glimpse during the first debate of the campaign of their plans to get the federal budget under control. Ben Sasse says entitlement reform is the only way to achieve fiscal stability. Shane Osborn says the nation can grow its way out of its fiscal woes by expanding the economy.

The candidates were asked how they would work with Democrats to reduce the deficit. Sasse, a former top health and human services aide under President George W. Bush, said both Democrats and Republicans in Washington have to understand that much of the nation's debt is the result of the growth in entitlements. However, Sasse did not say what entitlements he would cut or how he would go about changing Social Security and Medicare. "We're guilty of generational theft," said Sasse, president of Midland University in Fremont.

Osborn also indicated that he would support entitlement changes, but he did not give any specifics.

Source: Omaha World-Herald on 2014 Nebraska Senate debate Jan 29, 2014

Bob Kerrey: We must keep our commitments & do right for the future

FISCHER: I believe that we cannot change the benefits for people over the age of 40. But maybe those under 40 need to look at means testing, maybe we need to look at changing the age of eligibility--then our younger citizens can make plans.

KERREY: What she's saying, basically, is that if you're over 40, you're not going to have to participate in the solution. The question is not: Are we going to keep our commitments? But the question is: Are we going to do the right thing for our future? The most moving moment of my political career was in Lincoln, Nebraska, on 6 June 1994, with men who had landed on the beaches of Normandy 50 years earlier. And we celebrated them as heroes, not because they avoided risk but because they took risks. And the question is: Are we going to be remembered in the same fashion? And if we do it the way Senator Fischer is talking about, I promise you, we won't.

FISCHER: Well, I wasn't in government when those commitments were made.

Source: 2012 Nebraska Senate debate excerpts Sep 28, 2012

Bob Kerrey: Entitlements are $60 trillion liability; must do something

FISCHER: When I made a commitment [like on Social Security] that meant I was going to keep it. That meant that I was hoping the people that came after me and served in the Legislature would keep that commitment also. I can tell you what I won't do, though. I will not cut benefits, I will not raise taxes, and I won't steal $700 billion from Medicare.

KERREY: We've got a commitment we can't fund. And it's simple math. It's a $60 trillion unfunded liability with $400,000 worth of debt for every single person in the workforce. We made a commitment that we can't keep. And the question is, what are we going to do about it? And if we don't do something about it, we'll end up like Greece relatively soon.

Source: 2012 Nebraska Senate debate excerpts Sep 28, 2012

Bob Kerrey: Raise payroll cap & raise retirement age to 69

Deb Fischer and Bob Kerrey agreed that the government must transform its entitlement programs, including scaling back Social Security, but Kerrey charged that Fischer's plan for cutting federal spending was impractical and would cause serious damage to the economy.

The two also disagreed on how to reform federal programs like Social Security and Medicare. Kerrey's plan would expand the payroll tax to higher income levels and would gradually increase the age of eligibility for benefits to 69 in 2075. Fischer's plan would increase the retirement age for people who are now younger than 40 and would limit benefits for the wealthy.

Kerrey said "there's a grain of truth" in comments that America has become an entitlement nation. While he doesn't view Social Security and Medicare beneficiaries as "moochers," Kerrey said, those programs amount to a $60 trillion unfunded liability that works out to "$400,000 worth of debt for every person in the workforce."

Source: Beatrice Daily Sun on 2012 Nebraska Senate debate Sep 28, 2012

Deb Fischer: Don't change benefits for people over the age of 40

FISCHER: I believe that we cannot change the benefits for people over the age of 40. We need to be honest with our younger citizens in this country. They all know, you all know, that the programs you have aren't sustainable. But if the government is honest with you, saying that things need to change--that maybe those under 40 need to look at means testing, maybe we need to look at changing the age of eligibility--then our younger citizens can make plans. But we need to have a government that's honest.

KERREY: What she's saying, basically, is that if you're over 40, you're not going to have to participate in the solution. The question is not: Are we going to keep our commitments? But the question is: Are we going to do the right thing for our future?

Source: 2012 Nebraska Senate debate excerpts Sep 28, 2012

Deb Fischer: Raise retirement age & limit benefits

Fischer and Kerrey agreed that the government must transform its entitlement programs, including scaling back Social Security, but Kerrey charged that Fischer's plan for cutting federal spending was impractical and would cause serious damage to the economy.

The two also disagreed on how to reform federal programs like Social Security and Medicare. Kerrey's plan would expand the payroll tax to higher income levels and would gradually increase the age of eligibility for benefits to 69 in 2075. Fischer's plan would increase the retirement age for people who are now younger than 40 and would limit benefits for the wealthy.

Both candidates strived to take cautious, balanced positions when asked whether America has become an entitlement nation. Fischer distanced herself from Mitt Romney's statement in which he said 47% of Americans don't pay income taxes and many feel entitled to government support; Fischer said, "People sometimes need help and government should be there for them."

Source: Beatrice Daily Sun on 2012 Nebraska Senate debate Sep 28, 2012

Deb Fischer: Look at means testing & higher retirement age

Kerrey said he supports the federal health care reform enacted in 2010 and knows it is unpopular with many Nebraskans. He said those people should vote for Fischer.

Fischer spoke about possible changes to Social Security, while noting many lawmakers won't take a stand on the topic. "We need to look at means testing. We need to look at (raising) the eligibility age," she said.

Source: Sioux City Journal on 2012 Nebraska Senate debate May 17, 2012

Scott Kleeb: Strengthen, not privatize, Social Security

Source: Campaign booklet, Nebraska’s Brand of Change, p.37 Aug 19, 2008

Steven Larrick: Increase Social Security tax on higher income individuals

Source: Nebraska Congressional Election 2008 Political Courage Test Jun 25, 2008

Mike Johanns: Honor our commitment on Social Security

We must honor our commitment to those currently receiving Social Security and future recipients. We must also continue to help those who rely on the benefits provided by Medicare and Medicaid. Democrats and Republicans must work together for a bi-partisan reform to ensure the continued viability of these important programs.
Source: Nebraska Congressional Election 2008 Political Courage Test Jun 3, 2008

  • The above quotations are from State of Nebraska Politicians: Archives.
  • Click here for definitions & background information on Social Security.
  • Click here for other issues (main summary page).
2016 Presidential contenders on Social Security:
  Democrats:
Secy.Hillary Clinton(NY)
V.P.Joe Biden(DE)
Gov.Andrew Cuomo(NY)
Mayor Rahm Emanuel(IL)
Gov.Martin O`Malley(MD)

Republicans:
Amb.John Bolton(MD)
Gov.Jeb Bush(FL)
Dr.Ben Carson(MD)
Gov.Chris Christie(NJ)
Sen.Ted Cruz(TX)
Gov.Mike Huckabee(AR)
Gov.Jon Huntsman(UT)
Gov.Bobby Jindal(LA)
Rep.Peter King(NY)
Gov.Sarah Palin(AK)
Sen.Rand Paul(KY)
Gov.Rick Perry(TX)
Sen.Rob Portman(OH)
Secy.Condi Rice(CA)
Sen.Marco Rubio(FL)
Rep.Paul Ryan(WI)
Sen.Rick Santorum(PA)
2016 Third Party Candidates:
Mayor Michael Bloomberg(I-NYC)
Gov.Gary Johnson(L-NM)
Donald Trump(NY)
Gov.Jesse Ventura(I-MN)
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Page last updated: Apr 20, 2014