From an editorial published Thursday in the Washington Post:
While most people were debating Vice President Bidens infamous Tuesday commentary on shackling, we found ourselves more disheartened by his pandering comment on Social Security, delivered the same afternoon to little response maybe because pandering is no longer news.
As has been by now widely discussed, Mr. Biden told a heavily African American audience that Republican Mitt Romney, if elected president, was going to put yall back in chains. Mr. Romney read the remark as a reference to slavery and proclaimed himself to be highly affronted. Our view: The Biden comment was dumb and uncalled for, the Romney reaction tactical and over the top.
On the same trip to southern Virginia, Mr. Biden wandered into the Coffee Break Cafe in Stuart. According to the White House pool report, when a diner there said, Im glad you all are not talking about doing anything with Social Security, Mr. Biden responded: Hey, by the way, lets talk about Social Security. Number one, I guarantee you, flat guarantee you, there will be no changes in Social Security. I flat guarantee you.
Why is this so depressing? Because, as Mr. Biden knows, Social Security is going broke. If no changes are made, then by 2033 the program will not be able to pay benefits as promised.
Everyone agrees that fixing Social Security is the easy one far easier than reining in Medicare, Medicaid and other health-care costs. Tweak the inflation calculator and moderately raise the income limit for applying the payroll tax, and you can shore up Social Security with no harm to the safety net.
In response to our inquiry, White House officials said that Mr. Bidens flat guarantee was not meant to convey a change in administration position, which is best understood from Mr. Obamas 2011 State of the Union address, which called for a bipartisan solution to strengthen Social Security for future generations.
The president went further in failed negotiations with House Speaker John Boehner last summer, putting on the table changes in the way Social Security cost-of-living adjustments are calculated.
By contrast, the vice presidents hearty assurances, like so much in this campaign, will make even more difficult the governing decisions that become more expensive and more painful with every year of delay.