Hillary Dodges Social Security Questions; Doesn't Want to 'Spook' Americans

     Don’t be concerned about what liberal Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton thinks about specific issues – she’ll let you know when she think it’s time for you to know.


     Clinton appeared on the October 11 CNBC “Street Signs” to discuss economic issues with CNBC Washington correspondent John Harwood and “Street Signs” anchor Erin Burnett.


     Harwood asked Clinton to respond to a comment made by GOP presidential nominee frontrunner Rudy Giuliani: “Hillary Clinton … wants to put a lid on us. She wants to put a lid on our growth. We want to give people freedom.”


     “Well, obviously I disagree profoundly,” Clinton said. “What I have proposed would be fiscally responsible. I have put forth the way I would pay for everything that I believe we need to do in our country. I am concerned that our great economic engine that is the heart and soul of the American dream is under stress and even under attack.”


     So what is fiscal responsibility to Clinton – that would ease the stress of “our great economic engine?” Her $110-billion “Hillarycare” health insurance plan would be financed in part by rolling back President George W. Bush’s tax cuts for those in the top two tax brackets. But she has said the same tax increase will also make Social Security solvent – begging the question of whether that one tax increase would be enough to pay for her plans.


     Harwood asked her if those tax increases would hurt the economy.


     “Well, I don’t believe that’s the case,” Clinton said. “We hear a lot from the other side about taxes, but as I recall in the 1990s when my husband did raise taxes on the upper-income Americans who are the most well off, we got 22 million new jobs. President Bush has tried to slash taxes as much as he could over the last six-and-a-half years. We haven’t seen jobs increase the way we should have if cutting taxes is supposed to be a job generator.”


     The Bush tax cuts are credited for creating 8.1 million new jobs since August 2003 during wartime, unlike the job growth that occurred under Clinton during peacetime. And despite lower tax rates under Bush, there have been double-digit tax receipts since 2005 according to the White House.


     Harwood also asked her to comment on an idea put forth by Republican presidential hopeful Fred Thompson – to index Social Security benefits to inflation instead of wages.


     Clinton dodged commenting specifically on Thompson’s idea – akin to her response to a question NBC’s Tim Russert asked at a September 26 debate in New Hampshire: “I think that's one of those hypotheticals that is better not addressed at this time.”


     “[W]e do have to get back to fiscal responsibility to replenish the Social Security trust fund. I want people committed to that first before we start talking about what will or will not be done. And then, I want a bi-partisan commission so everyone agrees on what steps have to be taken.”


     However, Harwood pressed on for an answer. “But don’t you owe it, as someone with a very good chance at becoming president, seeking the votes of Americans, don’t you owe it to the American people to tell them what you think about some of these specific ideas while you’re running?” Harwood asked.


     Although Halloween is nearly three weeks away, Clinton told Harwood she wasn’t going to jump the gun and scare people by addressing their Social Security concerns.


     “I think what I owe the American people is to tell them I will not spook them and sound the alarm over Social Security because that’s not merited,” Clinton said. “We have time to deal with this problem. I will deal with it in a responsible fashion.”


     Clinton has a history of being vague about economic issues. Following the unveiling of her health care plan, she left many question unanswered about the specifics of her plan.

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