President Obama said Social Security is not in crisis and only modest changes are needed to keep it solvent.
The president acknowledged at a small town hall gathering in Columbus, Ohio, Wednesday that the pension fund "has to be tweaked because the population is getting older" but said Republicans' plans to drastically overhaul the program are wrong.
Social Security has become a significant campaign issue during the August recess — Democrats have attacked the GOP, accusing them of wanting to privatize the Great Depression-era program. They cite Rep. Paul RyanPaul RyanSanders set for clash with Trump’s budget pick Is healthcare law really going into a ‘death spiral’? Trump hosts Hill leaders for ice breaker MORE's (R-Wis.) budget roadmap, which proposes raising the retirement age to 70 and cutting benefits for wealthy retirees.
In the past, the GOP has proposed putting some Social Security benefits in private accounts. But many Republicans have said they do not support the plan.
Still, some economists worry the program will soon become insolvent because there are more retirees and, thus, fewer workers paying into the system. Recent polling also shows that most people believe they will not receive their benefits upon retirement.
But the president said these problems can be solved so everyone can receive benefits.
"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," he said.
"I have been adamant that Social Security should not be privatized, and it will not be privatized as long as I am president," he added.
Obama also said his bipartisan fiscal commission could come up with proposals to extend the life of the program.
"I am absolutely convinced it can be done," he said.