Obama in 2008: ‘We’re Going to Have to Take On Entitlements – I’d Like to Do It in My First Term’

December 10, 2012 - 3:47 PM

Obama Fiscal Cliff

President Barack Obama greets the crowd after speaking at The Rodon Group manufacturing facility, Friday, Nov. 30, 2012, in Hatfield, Pa.(AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

(CNSNews.com) – As a candidate for president in 2008, Barack Obama said he would like to address entitlement reform during his first term in office.

“We’re going to have to take on entitlements, and I think we've got to do it quickly,” Obama said as a candidate on Oct. 7, 2008, during the second presidential debate. “We're going to have a lot of work to do, so I can't guarantee that we're going to do it in the next two years, but I'd like to do it in my first term as president.”

As president-elect, Obama made a similar statement to the editorial board of the Washington Post, which ran a story headlined, “Obama Pledges Reform of Social Security, Medicare Programs.”

The Post story quoted Obama saying, “What we have done is kicked this can down the road. We are now at the end of the road and are not in a position to kick it any further," he said. "We have to signal seriousness in this by making sure some of the hard decisions are made under my watch, not someone else’s."

Unless Obama and Congress reach a deal to avoid the fiscal cliff, automatic tax hikes and spending cuts will take effect in January.

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner presented a plan on Capitol Hill that would consider $400 billion in entitlement reform next year after a $1.6 trillion tax hike through rate increases takes effect, along with a $50 billion stimulus package, and granting the president the ability to raise the debt ceiling at will, requiring a two-thirds majority of Congress to stop him.

House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) made a counter offer to Obama to raise taxes through limiting deductions and loopholes, but would also reform entitlements and cut spending.

During the Oct. 7 debate with Republican nominee Sen. John McCain of Arizona, Obama, then an Illinois senator and Democratic nominee for president, said entitlement reform would be a priority.

Debate moderator Tom Brokaw asked, “Would you give Congress a date certain to reform Social Security and Medicare within two years after you take office? Because in a bipartisan way, everyone agrees, that's a big ticking time bomb that will eat us up maybe even more than the mortgage crisis.”

Obama responded, “Well, Tom, we're going to have to take on entitlements and I think we've got to do it quickly. We're going to have a lot of work to do, so I can't guarantee that we're going to do it in the next two years, but I'd like to do it in my first term as president.”