LAS VEGAS Ã¢â‚¬â€œ House Speaker Nancy Pelosi unambiguously said Saturday she opposes raising retirement age and rebuffed propositions to cut Social Security benefits as a way of reducing the deficit.
"Yes," she told a large gathering of media and liberal activists at the Netroots Nation conference, when asked point blank if she's against the idea.
"When you talk about reducing the deficit and Social Security, you're talking about apples and oranges," Pelosi (D-CA) said. "To change Social Security in order to balance the budget, they aren't the same thing in my view."
The Speaker noted that "it's very important for us to be fiscally responsible," and endorsed making cuts in wasteful government programs, but also emphasized the need to ensure that seniors, whose expenses are often highest when their incomes lowest, don't get short-changed on benefits promised to them.
Her remarks come as top Republican and Democrats have recently -- albeit in different ways -- supported scaling back Social Security in the midst of growing concerns about how to keep the program solvent as well as reduce the federal deficit.
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) has said we ought to "consider a higher retirement age or one pegged to lifespan."
Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-SC), a member of the Democratic leadership, noted, "With minor changes to the program such as raising the salary cap and raising the retirement age by one month every year, the program could become solvent for the next 75 years."
President Barack Obama's fiscal commission is weighing various options to cut the national debt, and Obama has said that "everything has to be on the table" when it comes to balancing the budget.
Republicans, meanwhile, are enthusiastic about thoroughly revamping Social Security. Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) hasn't eliminated the possibility that his party would, if it retakes the House, reconsider privatizing the program as it attempted to do unsuccessfully during the Bush administration.
Progressive activists have promised to fight any proposals to reduce the scope of Social Security.