Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner said on Sunday that President Barack Obama is open to reforming Social Security, but not until after a deal has been reached to avoid the "fiscal cliff."
Geithner said on ABC's "This Week" that while Obama is willing to consider cuts or reforms to other entitlement programs before the end of the year, Social Security is off the table. “What the president is willing to do is to work with Democrats and Republicans to strengthen Social Security for future generations so Americans can approach retirement with dignity and with the confidence they can retire with a modest guaranteed benefit,” Geithner said.
“But we think you have to do that in a separate process so that our seniors aren't, don't face the concern that we're somehow going to find savings in Social Security benefits to help reduce the other deficits.”
Republicans have scoffed at Obama's plan to avoid going over the fiscal cliff on Jan. 1, because it calls for increases in spending on infrastructure and unemployment benefits as well as tax hikes for the top 2 percent of earners. Obama has indicated that would be willing to consider raising the Medicare eligibility age, but the majority of the savings in his proposal come from ending the Afghanistan war, raising taxes on the wealthiest 2 percent of Americans, reforming farm subsidies and raising premiums on higher-income Medicare patients.
Geithner said the ball is now in the Republicans' court to come up with a counter-offer if they refuse to accept Obama's proposal. "If the Republicans don't like those ideas, and they want to do it differently, they want to go beyond that, they have to tell us what makes sense for them, and then we can take a look at it," he said on NBC's "Meet the Press." "But what we can't do is try to figure out what makes sense for them."