Clin­ton re­fuses to dis­close if she col­lects So­cial Se­cu­rity benefits

Re­sists pres­sure from lib­er­als to ex­pand pro­gram

The Washington Times Weekly - - Politics - BY S.A. MILLER

Hil­lary Rod­ham Clin­ton stuck with her cen­trist per­sona when her pres­i­den­tial cam­paign delved into the So­cial Se­cu­rity de­bate, ig­nor­ing lib­er­als’ calls to ex­pand benefits even as she be­moaned the plight of a New Hamp­shire woman forced out of re­tire­ment and back to work be­cause of skimpy ben­e­fit checks.

The for­mer sec­re­tary of state pressed the woman dur­ing a round­table dis­cus­sion to re­veal her monthly So­cial Se­cu­rity in­come to high­light the prob­lems faced by se­niors. She asked for the fi­nan­cial in­for­ma­tion even though her cam­paign re­peat­edly re­fused to say whether the 67-year-old can­di­date col­lects benefits her­self or how much she pock­ets.

Mrs. Clin­ton said only that as pres­i­dent she would be “100 per­cent com­mit­ted” to pro­vid­ing re­tirees a good qual­ity of life.

The ex­change at the event with work­ers at Whit­ney Bros., a chil­dren’s fur­ni­ture and toy man­u­fac­turer in Keene, New Hamp­shire, un­der­scored Mrs. Clin­ton’s cau­tious ap­proach to her party’s pro­gres­sive wing.

She has been un­der in­tense pres­sure from her Demo­cratic Party’s left wing to em­brace a plan to ex­pand So­cial Se­cu­rity benefits and pay for it with in­creased taxes on wealthy Amer­i­cans.

As a se­na­tor in 2007, Mrs. Clin­ton op­posed a plan to raise the cap on in­come sub­ject to So­cial Se­cu­rity tax in or­der to re­plen­ish the So­cial Se­cu­rity Trust Fund, which is pro­jected to be de­pleted in 2035.

So far, Mrs. Clin­ton has avoided com­mit­ting her­self to any pol­icy and of­fered only vague prom­ises to fight in­come in­equal­ity and cham­pion “ev­ery­day Amer­i­cans.”

Af­ter the round­table, Mrs. Clin­ton also brushed aside re­porters’ ques­tions about an up­com­ing book that ex­am­ines for­eign dona­tions to the Clin­ton Foun­da­tion while she served as sec­re­tary of state and sug­gests the money may have bought “fa­vors.”

She dis­missed the ac­cu­sa­tions about the foun­da­tion as “dis­trac­tions and at­tacks,” The As­so­ci­ated Press re­ported.

“I know that that comes, un­for­tu­nately, with the ter­ri­tory,” she said when asked about the Peter Sch­weizer book, “Clin­ton Cash: The Un­told Story of How and Why For­eign Gov­ern­ments and Busi­nesses Helped Make Bill and Hil­lary Rich,” which hits book­shelves May 5.

Ac­cord­ing to a re­port in The New York Times based on an ad­vance copy of the book, it ar­gues that the Clin­tons got speak­ing fees and dona­tions in re­turn for her gov­ern­ment of­fice dol­ing out fa­vors to var­i­ous for­eign in­ter­ests.

The deal­ings in­clude a free trade agree­ment in Colom­bia that ben­e­fited a ma­jor foun­da­tion donor’s in­vest­ments in the South Amer­i­can na­tion, devel­op­ment projects in Haiti af­ter a dev­as­tat­ing earth­quake in 2010, and more than $1 mil­lion in pay­ments to Mr. Clin­ton by a Canadian bank and ma­jor share­holder in the Keystone XL oil pipe­line that oc­curred while the project was un­der State Depart­ment re­view.

The in­ves­ti­ga­tion re­veals that Mr. Clin­ton’s speak­ing fees, which came mostly from for­eign gov­ern­ments and in­di­vid­u­als, in­creased sub­stan­tially dur­ing his wife’s ten­ure as the top U.S. diplo­mat.

“Of the 13 Clin­ton speeches that fetched $500,000 or more, only two oc­curred dur­ing the years his wife was not sec­re­tary of state,” he wrote.

Mrs. Clin­ton was al­ready dogged by ques­tions about for­eign dona­tions to the foun­da­tion and po­ten­tial con­flicts of in­ter­est while she was sec­re­tary of state, as well as the pos­si­bil­ity for con­flicts of in­ter­est if she re­turned to the White House.

The Clin­ton Foun­da­tion re­cently changed its pol­icy and barred dona­tions from for­eign na­tions ex­cept the clos­est U.S. al­lies such as Ger­many, Canada and Bri­tain.

At the round­table event, Mrs. Clin­ton was pre­sented with an op­por­tu­nity tai­lored for her to stake a po­si­tion on So­cial Se­cu­rity ex­pan­sion.

In­stead, she at­tacked Repub­li­can pro­pos­als to grad­u­ally tran­si­tion So­cial Se­cu­rity into a voucher-style sys­tem and voiced sup­port for pro­vid­ing se­niors a good qual­ity of life.

“My only ques­tion to every­body who thinks we can pri­va­tize So­cial Se­cu­rity or un­der­mine it in some way is, so then what’s go­ing to hap­pen to peo­ple [at re­tire­ment]. What’s go­ing to hap­pen? It’s just wrong,” she said.

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