Chamber presses for debate question on Social Security reform

Chamber presses for debate question on Social Security reform
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The country’s most powerful business group on Monday called for NBC’s Lester Holt to ask about entitlement reform in the first presidential debate.

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The U.S. Chamber of Commerce wrote in an open letter that it's displeased with the “very little” it has heard from Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonHouse Intel Republican: 'Foolish' not to take info on opponent from foreign ally House Intel Republican: 'Foolish' not to take info on opponent from foreign ally It's about the delegates, stupid MORE and Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump defends Stephanopolous interview Trump defends Stephanopolous interview Buttigieg on offers of foreign intel: 'Just call the FBI' MORE on reforming Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. 

The Chamber said keeping those programs solvent is “absolutely critical” to the country’s financial and economic security. The group is calling on Holt, moderator of the first debate on Sept. 26, to ask the candidates, “What’s your plan to save our country’s entitlement programs and reduce the national debt?”

“These programs are fundamental components of America’s social safety net, providing economic security to seniors, the poor, and others,” wrote the Chamber. “However, they’re also the main drivers of our country’s swelling federal debt, and the programs themselves have become wholly unaffordable and unsustainable.”

Funding for Medicare and Social Security is projected to run out in 2028 and 2034 respectively, according to a June report released by the Obama administration. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office projected the federal debt to reach an unprecedented high in 2035.

While the 2012 presidential campaign held a tight focus on entitlement reform and deficits, the scrutiny of the 2016 race has focused elsewhere.

Clinton has proposed expanding Social Security while ramping up costs for the wealthy and opposing efforts to privatize it or reduce benefits for middle- and low-income Americans. Trump supports funding Medicaid through block grants to states but has offered no consistent plan for Social Security.

Entitlement reform is a pet issue for Bruce Josten, the Chamber’s outgoing top lobbyist who said he will step down at the end of the year. 

“What we have heard is very distressing,” the Chamber wrote. “This is a recipe for disaster for our children, our grandchildren, and for generations of Americans to come.”