President Obama said Wednesday the nation's Social Security system is "not in crisis" and doesn't need "any newfangled schemes" to keep it solvent for the next generation.
Speaking to middle class families at a small outdoor event in Columbus, Ohio, the president said an independent commission is considering a "bunch of ways" to bolster the Social Security trust fund. But those ways do not include privatization -- an idea briefly embraced by the previous administration of George W. Bush.
"I have been adamant in saying Social Security should not be privatized," Obama said, "and it will not be privatized as long as I'm president." In the midst of difficult campaigns, Democrats often champion the cause of the popular retirement system, which is in its 75th year.
Rep. Paul Ryan, (R-Wis.) recently proposed gradually raising the Social Security retirement age to 70
and reducing benefits in the future to wealthy retirees. Ryan has also discussed giving those under the age of 55 the option of creating individual investment accounts
financed by payroll taxes.
A recent government forecast
said the Social Security trust fund should be able to meet its obligations until 2037 even if no changes are made in the existing system.
"There are some fairly modest changes that could be made without resorting to any newfangled schemes that would continue Social Security for another 75 years, where everybody would get the benefits they deserve," Obama said.
The president also said the economy is improving "slowly but surely." It is "getting stronger but it suffered a big trauma."
Obama was in Ohio to help raise money for Democratic Gov. Ted Strickland, who is in a tough re-election fight against former Republican Rep. John Kasich.
As he was leaving the first event, a reporter asked Obama if he had any second thoughts about saying recently that he supported the rights of Muslims to build a mosque two blocks from the site of the 9/11 attacks in Lower Manhattan. "The answer is, no regrets," he answered.