Issue of Paying for Social Security Won't Leave White House Pressroom

For the third time since HUMAN EVENTS raised the issue with him last Thursday, White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan was hit Monday with repeated press inquiries as to whether or not the President will rule out raising the income cap to pay for his Social Security reform package.

“We welcome all ideas for strengthening Social Security,” McClellan said in response to a question from CNN correspondent John King at the morning White House press briefing February 14th. King had asked if raising the income cap to pay for Social Security constitutes a tax increase despite the President’s earlier ruling out of an increase in the payroll tax to pay for reform of the program. In his third straight exchange with reporters in as many days, McClellan refused to take the possibility of raising the income cap off the table in the Bush Administration’s yet-to-be unveiled plan to streamline Social Security.

“We’re not in the business of ruling things in or out,” said McClellan, repeating his reason for not excluding raising the income cap that he had first articulated in a response to a question from HUMAN EVENTS last week. He added that one of the principles of the President’s vision for reformed Social Security is that it be “a bipartisan solution,” that the White House not become involved in “negotiating with ourselves at the [press room] podium.” The President’s top spokesman added that “we’ve been through this” and that he would not be drawn into “ideas talked about by others.” He did add, however, that the White House had “made clear what its views are in conversations with Members of Congress, not the press.”

Following a string of questions from other reporters seeking elaboration from McClellan, an exasperated Ken Herman of the Austin (Tex.) American Statesman cried out: “We give up!”