Welch Open To Social Security Changes, But With Conditions

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(Host) Congressman Peter Welch says he could support some changes to Social Security as part of a debt reduction plan, as long as all the savings are used to strengthen Social Security over the long term.

But Welch says he’ll strongly oppose any effort to raid the Social Security fund to help balance the federal budget.

VPR’s Bob Kinzel reports:

(Kinzel) President Obama and Republican and Democratic Congressional leaders are negotiating a plan to cut federal spending by $4 trillion over the next 10 years.

As part of those negotiations, the President has indicated a willingness to make changes to Social Security although no details have been released.

While some Democrats flatly rule out any Social Security cuts, Congressman Welch says he’s willing to consider some changes as long as all the savings are used to strengthen the Social Security program:

(Welch) "I’m always willing to take a look at what adjustments we can make to Social Security to assure its solvency. What I strongly oppose would be any proposals that would allow essentially raiding Social Security to prop up the General Fund budget. That’s where it’s got to be off limits because you’ve got basically a dedicated fund that in fact has been raided by the General Fund too often."

(Kinzel) Welch says the release on Friday of a disappointing jobs report puts additional pressure on the President and the Congressional negotiators to reach a deal this weekend:

(Welch) "I am concerned about the economy. I mean Vermonters are working hard, hanging on by their finger nails, people aren’t getting raises, some are taking pay cuts, the cost of gas is real high food is high so we want to do everything we can to get people back to work and strengthen the economy."

(Kinzel) Welch says a final deal must be a combination of budget cuts and new revenue and if he thinks it’s an unfair trade off, he won’t vote for it:

(Welch) "My hope is that they’ll do something that I can support because it’s important that we get this debt ceiling behind us. It’s important we start making progress on long term fiscal stability. So I very much want to support an outcome here but whether I can is going to depend on what that deal is."

(Kinzel) The President and the Congressional leaders will meet on Sunday afternoon in an effort to hammer out a deal. The debt ceiling deadline is August 2nd.  If a compromise isn’t reached by that date, the United States could be forced to default on some of its financial obligations.

For VPR News, I’m Bob Kinzel in Montpelier.

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