Obama said Sunday that if elected he will push to
increase the amount of income that currently is taxed to
provide monthly Social Security benefits.
Obama and other
Democratic presidential candidates previously have
signaled support for this idea.
But during an
interview on NBC's Meet the Press, Obama said
subjecting more of a person's income to the payroll
tax is the option he would push for if elected president.
He objected to
benefit cuts or a higher retirement age.
''I think the
best way to approach this is to adjust the cap on the
payroll tax so that people like myself are paying a little
bit more and people who are in need are protected,''
the Illinois senator said.
''That is the
option that I will be pushing forward.''
the first $97,500 of a person's annual income is taxed.
The amount is scheduled to rise to $102,000 next year.
could include a gap or ''doughnut hole'' to shield
middle-income earners from paying more in taxes, he said.
Obama has tried
to draw contrasts between himself and front-runner
Hillary Rodham Clinton on Social Security, saying on the
stump and in TV ads that she has dodged tough
questions about its finances.
Obama said some
tough decisions will be in order because Social Security
is the most important social program in the country.
sufficient for us to just finesse the issue because we're
worried that, well, we might be attacked for the various
options we present,'' he said.
Clinton has said
growing the economy will pump more money into Social
Security's coffers. She also has said she would create a
bipartisan commission to recommend solutions.
is projected to start spending more than it collects
beginning in 2017, with its trust fund depleted in 2041.
invoked a friend of his, billionaire Warren Buffett, who
Obama said has expressed concern that he pays less in
Social Security taxes than anyone else in his office.
''And he has
said, and I think a lot of us who have been fortunate are
willing to pay a little bit more to make sure that a senior
citizen who is struggling to deal with rising property
taxes or rising heating bills, that they've got the
coverage that they need,'' Obama said.
On the Republican
side, candidate Fred Thompson unveiled a Social
Security proposal last week that calls for reducing benefits
to future retirees and creating voluntary personal
retirement accounts. The plan is similar to one put
forth by President Bush that ultimately stalled in
Congress. (Darlene Superville, AP)