The HillTube

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Axelrod: ‘Not the time’ to discuss Social Security reform

Obama campaign adviser David Axelrod in a Monday interview avoided laying out specifics on how the president would reform Social Security, arguing now is “not the time” to talk about the details of reform.

During a discussion about the entitlement program on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” Axelrod said entitlements must be dealt with “in a balanced way” but that the president wasn’t ready to have a discussion about specifics 43 days before the election between Obama and Republican Mitt Romney.

ADVERTISEMENT
“I’ll tell you what, when you get elected to the United States Senate and sit at that table, we’ll have that discussion,” Axelrod told Mark Halperin when the Game Change author pushed Axelrod to be more specific.

“This is not the time. We’re not going to have that discussion right now unless the Congress wants to sit at a table and say, 'We’re ready to move on a balanced approach to this,' ” Axelrod said.

Republicans seized on the remarks, arguing on Twitter that Axelrod and the Obama campaign’s refusal to discuss details showed it did not have a plan for entitlement reform.

“The reality of Social Security is that this is a much less imminent problem than Medicare,” Axelrod continued. “We’ve extended the life of Medicare by close to a decade through the changes that we’ve made and Gov. Romney wants to repeal. Social Security is a more distant problem, one that needs a solution, but it isn’t as pressing as the Medicare issue.”

Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio) spokesman Michael Steele followed up by asking Axelrod why the president didn’t take the lead on the issue.

“The president has led and he will lead,” Axelrod said. “The president, for example, took steps to make Medicare more secure, monies that were going to unwarranted subsidies for insurance companies and providers, plowed it back into healthcare, plowed it back into Medicare … and Gov. Romney has attacked him for it, said he cut Medicare, which even the AARP rejects.

“So there’s an awful lot of demagoguery out there and in this environment it’s very difficult to have a discussion about the specifics of an issue like that but the president has laid out very clear principles, he’s willing to move on these issues in a balanced way and he’s kept everything on the table. Gov. Romney’s the one who ruled out any new revenues — remember, he wouldn’t take one dollar of new revenue for $10 of cuts. As long as that’s your attitude, you’ll never solve these problems.”

Entitlement reform dominated the campaign after Romney named Rep. Paul Ryan as his running mate, but most of that discussion focused on Medicare.

Ryan’s budget plan includes a controversial proposal to revamp Medicare that would give future seniors the choice of opting out of the program in favor of private insurance. Democrats have seized on this point in particular, warning voters that it will “end Medicare as you know it.”