tv Key Capitol Hill Hearings CSPAN November 10, 2015 2:00am-4:01am EST
campaign campaigns. the heritage foundation hosted a discussion today on disability insurance and proposed changes to the program. among the speakers was tom cotton of arkansas. this is an hour and ten minutes. [ applause ] >> thank you, john. and let me add my welcome this afternoon to the heritage foundation. social security's disability insurance program was established in the 1950s. like much of our federal government's social safety net, the disability insurance program was founded with noble intentions, to ensure that americans who could not work because of mental or physical impairment would not suffer from poverty or destitution. however, over its nearly 60 years of existence, the
disability insurance program has morphed from a small scale anti-poverty program, provided benefits to less than one half of 1% of our population, to a program that now provides not only disability insurance but also unemployment and early retirement subsidies to over 5% of our population. 5%. well rather than deal with the manifest problems in the program, congress chose in its recent budget deal to go with a short term financial patch. they bailed out the program with $150 billion from the even more underfunded social security trust fund. kicking the can down the road seems to be the best we can do,
under the current administration. in the face of an entitlement funding program that threatens to overwhelm our government's financial stability. despite the infusion of cash, the disability program will run out of money in 2022. with the social security program its creeping closer to insolvency, it's hard to see where the money will come from then for yet another bailout. our guest, senator tom cotton, was one of the heroes who voted against that reckless budget fix. and he's here today to talk about some of the real reforms that could improve the efficiency and integrity of the disability insurance program. tom cotton grew up on his family's cattle farm in yale county, arkansas. he went to harvard and then on
to harvard law school. after a clerkship with the u.s. court of appeals and private law practice, tom left the law because of the september 11th to join the u.s. army. tom served in iraq with the 101st airborne, in afghanistan with the provencal reconstruction team. between his two combat tours, he served with the old guard at arlington national cemetery. tom's military decorations include the bronze star. between the army and the senate, tom worked for mackenzie and company and served one term in the u.s. house of representatives. tom and his wife anna had their first child this past spring, congratulations, senator. please join me in welcoming senator tom cotton. [ applause ]
>> thank you. thank you very much for letting me participate today. ambassador miller, thank you for the very kind introduction. it's a privilege as always to speak at the heritage foundation, especially before this distinguished panel. rachel glesz her and romina boccia, our work has been instrument tall. both staffers and legislators rely on your analyses. and when the disability reform does come, your great work will have advanced the work significantly. and kim hildred, your work was a critical element to my own legislation. we know the challenges of the social security disability insurance program. it's grown far too large, well past the rate of demographics. there's a lack of program integrity and those who should recover never leave the program. but i want to highlight today
two other specific concerns with social security disability. first, the effect of social security disability on communities, what might be called the disability tipping point. and second on ways to better help those who can recover return to work. a dynamic of the disability program that's sometimes under appreciated is how regional and concentrated it's become. in arkansas we have the third highest rate of social security disability usage, only behind west virginia and alabama. about 7.5% of the working age population in my state collecting disability benefits. by contrast, the dakotas, nebraska and wyoming all have about 3% of their working age population on disability, les than half of arkansas's rate. within arkansas the disparity is more striking at the county level. arkansas, along with the other states in what's been called greater appalachia have counties where close to 20% to have
population is on disability. that is an astonishing figure. one in five residents on disability in these places. that also means that disability is the largest source of income in those counties. on the other hand, other counties in arkansas, particularly the fastest growing ones have rates of disability well below the national average. the evidence is pretty clear. there's an inverse relationship between the rate of disability usage and population growth, which most economists would agree is a good proxy for economic vitality. sadly our 20 counties with the highest rates of social security disability suffered a population decline of more than 2% in the last four years alone, while the rest of my state grew by more than 2%. by contrast, the 20 counties in arkansas with the lowest rates of social security disability
usage have boomd with population growth of more than 4% over the same time. this correlation is too striking to ignore. the same trend is also true nationwide. buchanan county, virginia with 22% of the population on social security disability had more than a 4% decline in its population in four years. mcdowell, west virginia, with a 21% rate of social security disability saw more than an 8% decline in its population. the fastest growing counties in the country, in places like north dakota, texas and northern virginia have less than 2% of their population on disability, or about one-tenth the rate of the declining population counties. it's hard to say what came first or caused the other. population declined or increased disability usage. or maybe economic stagnation caused both. regardless, there seems to be at
least at the county and regional level, something like a disability tipping point. when a county hits a certain level of disability usage, disability become as norm. it becomes an acceptable way of life and income to a good paying job. as opposed to a last resort safety program to deal with catastrophic injury and illness. after a certain point when disability keeps climbing, employers will struggle to find employees or begin or continue to move out of the area. population continues to fall in a downward spiral kicks in driving once thriving communities into further decline. not only that, but once this kind of spiral begins, communities could begin to suffer other social plagues as well, such as heroin or meth addiction and associated crime. an urgent policy goal therefore
should be the to stop the tipping points from being reached. there's nothing compassionate about accepting these disability rates usage. after all, they will receive poverty level checks for the rest of their lives. those who can work but are instead on disability will likely never again receive a paycheck, never enjoy working with others, making friends at work, developing new skills and achieving the fulfillment that comes with the dignity of work. these tipping points, along with the general increase in the number of disability recipients have always endangered the program's financial health, including medicare benefits for recipients, the program now costs more than $200 billion per year. or the equivalent of about half of all nondefense discretionary spending. in turn, the financial uncertainty around the disability programs puts at risk the genuinely and permanently
disabled who depend on the program. i'm introduced legislation to address this challenge. it will have three main parts. first, social security will distinguish between those who have generally and permanently disabled and those who are disabled but expected to recover. today the system treats a paraplegic the same as someone with a severely broken leg who's expected to recover in a year. those expected to recover will be categorized and likely or potential to recover. second, it will allow beneficiaries in the category to earn an income while in the program through a benefit offset. the beneficiary consist take time for rehabilitation and then gradually rejoin the workforce. with the offset they won't be at risk for losing their benefits as they begin to earn more money. further the off jet can improve the program's integrity because
the judges can review it. third, my legislation will also set timelines for these individuals to exit the program and return to work. if the recovery goes more slowly than expected and they're not yet ready to return to work, they can reapply. but they're no longer disabled, we must help them leave the program and return to the workforce. the past years have shown this approach is necessary if we want to increase the number of beneficiaries returning to the workforce. social security's ticket to work program, for instance, has operated for more than 16 years. there are also dozens of other resources available to beneficiaries from countless federal agencies, yet, after billions of dollars of studies, pilots and other programs, the return to work rate has dropped to nearly zero. i believe that our challenge is in a lack of good intention or
lack of federal programs. our challenge is a lack of expectations and a lack of incentives for those who can recover. my legislation attempt to fix this. these reforms won't solve all of the problems of social security disability, but they will address one of the most urgent crises in the program and the once perhaps most corrosive to affected communities. thank you all for your interest in this issue, for your outstanding work on the tappic and for allowing me to address you today. now we will turn to the real experts on the panel. thank you. [ applause ] >> thank you so much, senator cotton. i would ask the panelists please now to join us to continue the discussion right now. we're joined by a distinguished group who i'm going to introduce
as soon as i can find my notes. we have three speakers today who will discuss their proposals for transitional benefits for disabled individuals who might return to work, as senator cotton talked about. also for a private disability insurance option to increase the scope of the program, and a flat disability insurance benefit to make it more sustainable and more fair for those who are lower income to start with. our first speaker will be romina boccia. she's the deputy director of the thomas a. rowe institute for economic policy studies. romina focuses on federal spending and the national debt, including social security and disability insurance. prior to joining the heritage foundation, romina served as an associate at the charles koch
institute and a palsy analyst at the independent women's forum. kim hildred currently serves as president of hildred consulting. prior to this kim served for 17 years as the staff director on the committee of ways and means subcommittee on social security. there she assisted committee republicans in the development and passage of legislation to strengthen social security, retirement survivors and disability programs. as well as in the oversight of these programs. her prior service also includes three years deciding social security disability claims for the states of kansas and wisconsin. followed by ten years of increasingly responsible positions in managing social security disability programs in the chicago and philadelphia regions. and our final panelist is rachel
greszler, she's at the center of data analysis at the heritage foundation. if her current role rachel focuses on social security disability insurance, tax and pension policies. prior to joining the heritage foundation, rachel spent seven years as a senior economist on the staff of the joint economic committee where she focused on similar issues. so let's start with romina. >> thank you, terry. the bipartisan budget deal that passed last week did one thing right. it prevented automatic benefit cuts for disability beneficiaries. but it failed to make substantial reforms to make the program work better for the beneficiaries that it serves and also for the taxpayeres who fun it. it only included very minor changes to deter fraud and reduce overpayments in the disability program.
beyond that it also included one demonstration project to test out a reform proposal that some believe will increase work participation among disability program beneficiaries. my remarks today will explore this demonstration project in greater depth and in particular i will try to answer the follow questions. is this policy change so promising that it was worth congress putting all of its eggs into that one putting all its en that one basket for the budget deal. was this the best one that congress could have chosen? and the answer to both of these is a flat-out no. demonstration projects exist to test and measure the effect of potential program changes. i'm sorry to tell you, but the demonstration project that congress chose is among the least promising. that is, if we're trying to
accomplish if what we're trying to accomplish is to focus the program on those who need it the most and to reduce program costs as we do that. the demonstration project authorizes another variant of a so-called benefit offset policy. the idea behind it is to let disability beneficiaries work more without losing their benefits. this policy will likely increase entry into the disability program by individuals who can do some work, and it will discourage those already on the program from leaving trolls. one might say, hey, let's not fault them. maybe it will work. the thing is that this proposal has been found in different variations here in the u.s. and in other nations. because the u.s. is not alone in struggling under the weight of growing disability program spending and also the accompanying reduction in labor force participation that occurs
when individuals leave the labor market to join the disability rolls. most people agree that society does have a proper role in providing benefits for those who request not provide for themselves. however, poor program design ends up discouraging participation among individuals who might otherwise work. and this is what program reforms should effectively address. now before i get into details, i'd like to draw your attention to a story in this sunday's washington post about a young man named paul that illustrates this program, this problem very effectively. are we able to pull up the slide? any ways, you can always find it online in the post as well. paul is 34. and in the picture in the post, he's shown with his rock-climbing gear, and i've actually seen paul at the rock
climbing gym where i go as well. and the story is about paul, who used to work at the outdoor outfitter, rei for about five years, but he lost his health insurance coverage when his hours got cut back. now paul has a rare condition that requires him to take costly endocrine system drugs to manage his condition. so the post writes about paul, and i quote here. so, instead of going out and trying to support himself with another job, paul took the safer option, applying for social security disability insurance and medicaid. now in order to qualify for disability benefits, applicants are required to prove that they are unable to earn more than $1,100 about a month from working. this earnings test is called the substantial gainful activity level. the story in the post goes on to describe how paul, shortly after being admitted to the disability program got another job offer in
d.c. that would have paid him enough to get him over that earnings test threshold, but then he risked losing his free medical and government cash benefits. so, i was very saddened yesterday, as i was having my sunday coffee to read about a young's holding back his professional career so can he maintain valuable benefits. this is a human tragedy. it is a tragedy of lost potential. some have suggested that lawmakers should eliminate the earnings test or smooth out this benefits cash cliff by allowing individuals to work indefinitely for higher earnings while maintaining their disability benefits, because there are already a lot of programs on the books that allow individuals to test out their ability to work at these higher levels. but over time, individuals are
expected to leave the rolls. some say this is discouraging individuals from trying to earn at higher levels. now fiscal conservatives who are proponents of this policy believe that more individuals like paul might, once they earn substantial amounts above this earning threshold leave the rolls. they are hope this will this might happen over time. the smoothing out and the budget deal includes one variation of it. but existing research suggests that a benefit offset would likely increase program costs by encouraging more individuals like paul who have marginal work capacity to enter the disability program. it is effectively a benefit expansion. and it would also discourage others from leaving the rolls. a national benefit offset program is on the other hand expected to increase the earnings and disposable income
of disabled beneficiaries while increasing costs at the same time as the program expands beyond its statutorily targeted population, which is individuals who are unable to work at those levels of income. the social security administration began a similar project as was authorized in the recent budget deal in 2009. and the researchers concluded that adopting this as a national policy would most likely increase program costs. a benefit offset policy in encourages people like paul to accept higher benefit jobs or make more hours -- it's unlikely to reduce the number of individuals who are on the rolls if this is the only policy change that congress were to adopt. now, in combination with other reforms that will more likely to
result in program savings and effectively return people to work, a benefit offset can improve the welfare of individuals with disabilities, and i was very encouraged to hear senator cotton speak about just such a proposal. because one of the big issues with current program design is that it sets no clear expectation that individuals with marginal or temporary disabilities return to work. and by returning to work, i don't mean increased labor force participation by those who are on the disability rolls but supporting yourself through work. other nations, notably germany, which is where i'm from, another way and the u.k. have built-in incentives for those to return to work to focus on accommodations and highlighting benefits for certain populations. in 2014, then senator tom coburn introduced a bill that would have introduced time-limited
benefits when recovery is expected for those on the rolls, and i'm grad to hear that senator cotton is picking up that mantle. this bill also would establish pilot projects to test early intervention projects to help capable individuals like paul with disabilities to return to work before ever entering the disability program. and i look forward to hearing from my colleagues more about some of those promising reforms. >> thank you, romina. kim? >> okay. good afternoon, everybody, and thank you for the opportunity to be here today. this presentation is going to summarize our paper, which was entitled the transitional benefits for a subset of the social security disability insurance population. i want to acknowledge my co-authors, pam aserski and dr. jennifer christian. and this was submitted as a proposal to the ssdi solutions initiative that's co-chaired by
former chairman of the sub committee, jim mccreary and earl pomeroy. so we were delighted to submit this paper for that initiative. so, to start, our paper addresses essentially a small subset of new beneficiaries who the social security administration currently identifies as expected to medically improve after a benefit award is made. today there are about 3% of ben fisheries that are expected to medically improve. examples of medical improvement include those who were in a catastrophic injury, or those who had reconstructive musculoskeletal surgeries, those impairments are arising out of situations that respond well to medical or rehabilitative
treatment. and so, and should their benefits be ceased for a continuing disability review as well. nor are they required to pursue services to facilitate return to work upon their benefit award. in contrast, when congress first considered adding a disability insurance component to the social security program, many contemplated a system of transitional benefits coupled with vocational services, designed to help people get back onto their feet and into the workforce. so essentially, our paper encourages lawmakers to revisit the link between rehabilitation services and disability and consider creating transitional benefits for the small subset of new beneficiaries whose disability is not in question, but who have conditions expected to improve. the social security administration would administer a compassionate system of transitional benefits with employment supports with the goal of employment, financial independence and better quality
of life. so, as i mentioned in terms of the problem, ben fisheries with conditions that are expected to improve are not encouraged to work, nor are they provided with employment supports they need to return to work. continuing disability review backlogs, which had reached $1.3 million by the end of fiscal year 2013 harm beneficiaries, according to a report by the bipartisan social security advisory board. and this happens by delaying return to work efforts, which become more difficult with time. potentially creating a misimpression that eligibility is permanent, regardless of disability status, and preventing the social security administration from taking timely action to discontinue payments to beneficiaries who are no longer eligible, causing a misuse of program resources. beyond backlogs, there are other problems facing the continuing disability review process. if the decision supporting the initial disability finding is
vague, decision-makers may not be able to determine medical improvement. in addition, beneficiaries face significant problems, employment challenges, given the length of time that they wait for an award. in addition to the length of time before continuing disability review occurs. and should they be ceased when a continuing disability review occurs, they are not offered services to help them reenter the labor market. our paper also references experts who have highlighted the need for ben fisheries to receive assistance to return them to employment and the value of work and increasing the number, and the increasing number of oecd countries that have implemented time-limited or temporary payments. so, briefly, our proposal for transitional benefits would change the dynamic of disability by ensuring that beneficiaries have access to supports and services that will aid them in medical and work recovery. sending a clear message through
a fixed length benefit award that temporary financial support is needed while a beneficiary is recuperating, while also signaling the expectation that they will be returning to work. allowing transitional ben fisheries to earn income without limits during the benefit period and finally, maintaining the beneficiary's ability to file a new application at the end of the transitional benefit period should they still believe they are unable to work. so, under the proposal, disability determination services examiners, these ddss are 100% federally funded state agencies who make those disability decisions at the initial and reconsideration level. and administratorive law judges would determine whether they meet the statutory definition of disability. they would use an analytics model to determine whether the medical condition is expected to improve. if so, transitional benefits
would be awarded for a two or three-year period, specified by the predictive model with the decision-maker having the ability and discretion to expand the traditional period of up to the maximum three year traditional term. as soon as practicable, information of individuals receiving transitional benefits would be sent to their local community work incentive coordinators under the program, which would be modified to prioritize services to transitional beneficiaries, including a direct referral to a ticket to work service provider. under a modified ticket to work program, and as the senate are mentioned, that's a current law program under the social security administration. they would provide customized services to increase recovery if necessary in order to achieve employment. and, as mentioned previously, there will be no cap on earned income during the transitional benefit period to encourage
work. okay. so the paper further addresses a number of implementation issues. regarding the use of predictive modeling, it points to ssa's experience in the disability review process, determining which matured, dire cases should undergo a full review. it also points to the needs to update the guidelines to determine these diary assignments the instructions for the examiners who set the diaries for when people will have a disability review, they have not been updated since the 1990s. so we point to the need for that to happen. and finally, that an expert panel will be convened periodically to update the medical criteria used by ssa decision-makers to determine medical improvement. regarding appeals, we propose making the decision to award transitional benefits nonappealable to avoid
undercutting the goal of encouraging beneficiaries to take the steps needed to reenter the workforce instead of waiting for the appeals process to unfold. and we point to examples where congress has precluded appeals and analogous context in the past. and as to reports we provide further details regarding the expedited and tailored services through existing return to work programs and a study regarding amending the rehabilitation act. as to required compliance, transitional beneficiaries would be required to follow prescribed treatment and take advantage of return to work services if needed to facilitate a workforce reattachment. ssa would also be required to notify transitional beneficiaries six months in advance of their benefits ending so they may take any needed action. here we go. the paper also required that we would, all of the authors were
asked to specify statutory changes that would be needed. so we included a list of those statutory changes as illustrated here. whoops. i jumped ahead. there i am. okay. so you can see that those are just spelling out some of the changes that would be required. and also asked us to identify some potential intermediate steps that could be utilized by law makers so the paper includes certain intermigediate steps. a congressionally authorized testing of all elements of the program through a pilot in a few states or a region, which could be expanded if preliminary results are positive the and the paper also includes options for demonstration projects through federal interagency agreements
or state innovation or experimentation. that could be through non-profit foundations or social impact bonds. finally, we were ask the to address some of the concerns or question the people may have about the proposal in the paper, including those for example who may oppose the time-limiting benefits, and while we believe that establishing transitional benefits for the small subset of beneficiaries whose conditions are expected to improve, combined with the employment support services is not only a compassionate solution that better serve the these individuals but is also consistent with congress's intention that some disabilities would be temporary, since the definition of disability does specify that the disability must last for a continuous period of at least 12 months, and we defend also the use of predictive analytics as a
probablistic approach that would ensure more consistent outcomes nationally, and the senator spoke to some of the inconsistencies that we see across the nation. we acknowledge the transitional disability concept would impose greater administrative burdens. however, we explain why we believe these burrs would be manageable. and although the costs are somewhat speculative, we explain why we believe the increasing administrative costs would be a benefit. the transitional term, unlike the uncertain prospect of a cbr reenforces that they should be able to return to work and provides help for them to do so. so in conclusion, the ssdi
benefit is $13,890 a year, only slightly higher than what constitutes the poverty threshold. we believe individuals with disabilities deserve better outcomes that are consistent with the disabilities act. studies have indicated that age, health, and time on the rolls are characteristics related to activity and success. and we brief limiting time on the rolls for a small subset of these beneficiaries who have a high likelihood of medical improvement coupled with supports and services aimed at improving health and increasing employment re-entry will facilitate better economic outcomes and overall improved quality of life. thank you. >> thank you, kim. rachel? >> i'm going to discuss two big-picture reforms here. the first is an optional private disability component within the
current ssdi system. and the second is a flat benefit. i'm going to start with three statistics. there are over 20 million working-age people with disabilities in the united states today. about 11 million people are on the disability insurance rolls, and yet, 75% of people with disabilities, that 20 million figure, would like to be working in some capacity. but very few of them are. only 30% are employed. so what this says is that there are actually more people with disabilities than are currently on the system. but yet, there are more people overall that want to be working and that aren't able to, and so a lot of those who are receiving ssdi benefits would like to work, but they're not able to. and the current system is impeding them from doing so. this first chart here shows the percent of the population, the working-age population that has been on ssdi since its inception in 1956.
it started at less than one half of a percent, and now we're at over half of all people working-age receiving t we are seeing that life expectancies increasing, medical innovations allowing people to recover from whatever disability they have to get back into the workforce. there are workplace accommodations, and our jobs are a lot more sedentary than they used to be. it's not that there are a bunch of manufacturing and physical labor jobs, but there are a lot of jobs today that only require minimal physical effort. so why have the rolls been increasing, despite that? a study by the federal reserve looked at the change in beneficiaries between 1980 and 2013. they were able to account for half of it. they attributed it to three factors, first an increase in social security retirement age. so people ages 65-67 will now be
on disability as opposed to social security if they become disabled at that age. second, there's the aging of the population. the baby boomers are reaching older ages your they're more likely to become disabled. and third, we've seen a rapid rise in women's labor participation. so as they were not eligible for ssdi before, they are now. yet, that leaves about half of the rise, which is equivalent to 3 million people a year that's unaccounted for. now there are a lot of problems within the ssdi system. but we can categorize them into two things. there are too many people getting on the rolls to begin with, and too few people are ever leaving the rolls. the proposal i'm suggesting here is an optional private insurance system. that would address both of those components. private disability insurance exists today for about one third of workers.
now it's a totally different structure than the ssdi system. it's the same product. it's disability insurance, but the insentives are entirely different and entirely different because of the incentives that are there. private disability insurance have to provide a product to employers that is valuable to them but they also have to provide it at a low cost. and they do it through a very efficient and effective determination process. as you can see on the first chart here, the average wait time for that initial decision from a private disability insurance provider is 41 days. almost nobody goes beyond the initial decision. it's not like ssdi where everybody appeals. most people have that decision within 41 days. in that time period, they're assigned a caseworker who is meeting with the individual, who is asking who's the individual's doctor, meeting with them if needed. meeting with the employer and trying to figure out what kind of medical help do they need, what type of workplace
accommodation would allow them to get back to the job, or do they need a different education because they can no longer perform the job they were doing before. now on the other hand, the social security system, individuals sit and wait for five months without working before they can apply for benefits. after that, they wait about 100 days for an initial determination. most people are denied at that stage, and then he they they go appeal it to an administrative law judge. during that time, individuals are losing whatever link they had to the workforce. they're losing their skills and education. and they're beginning to believe that they really cannot work. the second component of the private disability that is more effective and efficient is the determination process. the second graph just kind of gives one glimpse of that. we've seen in the ssdi system that now 63% of all claims that are approved are for mental and
musculoskeletal disorders. now those illegitimate disorders but the more subjective ones that are harder to diagnose, on the other hand, in the private market, you see that only 35% of those claims are for the muscular and mental disorders. so, in addition to providing more workplace accommodations and having the goal of getting people back to work as opposed to just approving them, because that's easier than denying and continuing to pay benefits, because that's easier than going through a cbr, as we heard, there are more than a million people waiting to have their cdrs. so in addition to that, the private market is not only providing higher benefits but at a lower cost. the first chart here shows the level of benefit the individuals would receive by income levels. as you go to the right, that's higher income individuals. and the light blue bars
represent what they would receive from ssdi currently. the dark blue bars are what they would receive from private disability insurance. ssdi replaces on average 44% of the employee's income, whereas private replaces on average 66%. it's doing a higher benefit at a lower coast. it coas costing about $245 per year as opposed to $865 per year in ssdi taxes. it's hard to do an apples to apples comparison, because there's an offset, but even after accounting for those things, i get analysis that showed that the private market could continue to pay their 60% replacement rate for half the cost of what individuals are currently paying in payroll taxes. so the proposal here would be to
allow employers, if they wanted to, to offer a qualified private disability insurance that would be at least equal to what ssdi provides now. employers who choose to offer this would receive a payroll tax credit, a portion of the current 1.8% on the employer themselves. they would receive the credit, allow them the funds to purchase the private disability insurance. individuals who have an employer that goes through this private system would first apply through the private system. they might still be in their job and having trouble, and they would be able to apply without having to sit there for five months and wait another 500 or so days to get a determination. they would have access to all those return-to-work supports and rehabilitative efforts, and after the initial decision, they would, if they were determined to be disabled, they would receive those benefits for the first two to three year, and after that time, if they're still disabled, they would transition to the ssdi system.
because there's no point to continue on a private system if they've been continually determined to be disabled. it's more efficient probably to let ssdi pay their check, but we've benefit of that initial determine nation, the individual having support along the way, and all the efforts that try to get them back to work. and then when they're determined not able they would transition over. this has the benefit to the individual who has more support along the way. it's an advantage to the employer who could reduce their employment costs and an advantage to the ssdi system, because the private employers, the payroll tax credit would be less than what it is costing ssdi itself to provide those benefit, and they would have a reduction in the rolls as a result. the second proposal i'd like to talk about gets at the original intent of social security. astery said, this is a nearly
60-year old program. it was to ensure people who disabled are not destitute and living in poverty, and yet, as we see here, social security provides the largest benefits to the people who have the highest pre-disability incomes. the graph to the left there shows that somebody with the highest income would be making, receiving $2800 per month in ssdi benefits, whereas a minimum wageworker is going to be receiving only $866 per month. as a result of this, we see that nearly 2 million people who receive ssdi benefits are living in poverty. that wasn't the intent of the program, it was to prevent poverty among the disabled. so those who are below poverty are either without enough income or turning to other government programs that are having an additional cost. if we were to implement an anti-poverty, flat benefit, equal for everybody who goes into the system, this would be an increase in benefits for about 35% of the population and
a reduction for about 65%. now we wouldn't propose to change benefits for anybody currently on the rolls, but, going forward, and this is something that actually could be implemented relatively quickly, those in the future would receive this flat benefit. the reason we could do it today or start it a year from now is that disability is not like social security where individuals plan to retire and they know they're going to need that money some day. disability is an unplanned event. so to the extent that an individual wants to ensure that they're going to have a certain amount of income if they become disabled, they can go out tomorrow and purchase disability insurance in the private market that will ensure that level of income. and this is getting at the proper role of the disability insurance system. it is that anti-poverty benefit. and anything beyond that is left up to individuals to decide, do i need 50% of my income? do i need 100%? what is it that i need, and the government does not need to dictate that and set it at a certain percent, but the
individuals can go out and purchase whatever additional amount they would need. in addition to restoring social security disability insurance program to its original intent, this proposal would go beyond solving social security's shortfalls. over the next ten years it would solve about two-thirds of the shortfall, and that's only because we would grandfather anybody in the current system. the graph shows the light blue lines are social security shortfall in billions of dollars. the dark blue lines are the savings that would be accumulated as a result of implementing this flat benefit. as you can see, beginning in 2023, the savings exceed the shortfall. that is you're going to have money left over from the shortfall, and we could take that money and reduce the payroll tax if self, give money back to individuals, more after tax take-home pay would allow hem to purchase private disability insurance to bring them up to whatever level they
believe they need if they become disabled. so, in short, these two proposals get at the two components. they address the problems inherent in the current system through the private option and look at returning social security to its original intent and bringing about the financial savings that we need to keep the program solvent. i think we'll turn to questions now? >> yeah. thank you, rachel. now it's your turn. while you're formulating your question, i'm going to start with one of my own, and that's just ask our pl panelists. they've described a program that is manifestly broken in many ways. it has a terrible incentive structure, provides inequitable benefits. the bureaucratic inefficiencies in running the program are terrible. it discourages people who are currently disabled from returning to work through punitive measures.
as senator cotton says, it provides incentives that lush people into long-term dependency that effectively makes them wards of the state for their entire remaining lives. and we've heard some very innovative and it sounds like reasonable proposals for reforms to the program. and i, i would just ask our panelists, briefly, what are the politics of this? is this something that really is amenable to bipartisan action? or is this going to be another one of those failed debates in washington where the two parties talk past each other and nothing actually ever gets done to fix what is clearly a broken program? romina? >> i'll take a stab at this. i think in many ways it's
interwoven with the social security benefits in general where one party stands on the position that no matter what, no benefit cuts, and they define benefit cuts in all sorts of interesting ways. so many of these proposals that would return people to work, some people would say that this is a benefit cut, that they are due this benefit for the rest of their lives and we should not put anytime limits or anything that could potentially do any harm to individuals, even when what we're really trying to do is to help them be independent. the other issue, i think, is that disability is a much, much smaller program than social security retirement program and is much less understood. it is highly complex. and lawmakers, many lawmakers don't understand if very well. and so they fear getting involved with the program. they might make a mistake. there are only a few that have shown leadership and willingness to learn about the program and really lead on these issues.
with the reallocation of money from the retirement trust fund to the disability trust fund, it takes urgency to fix the issue in terms of legislative action off the table, but what we should now stress is are the costs and the potential benefits to the individuals currently in the program and those joining the rolls now, if we were to make the program work better for these individuals. and the taxpayer, and not rely on the next legislative opportunity which will be seven years down the road and could very likely not be seized either. >> i think the recent budget deal just shows that this is a politically difficult topic. lawmakers showed behind closed doors, they negotiated a few small changes and came out and said look, we've done some things to solve social security, we're paying for it, but really all they did was kick the can down the road, steal the money
from social security and make programs worse off down the road. the same thing is going to happen come 2022 when disable is running out of money again, and there so far has not been the initiative to do any real reform on this rather than to try and merge the two programs and the further that we push them back the more likely we are to see a tax increase and nothing that's going to change the problems that exist within it. >> i would agree. the challenges, complexity, lack of urgency now with the new budget deal that's passed for sure, and there's not, there's not a coming together of parties or even constituents to try to tackle some of these very difficult challenges that the program faced. not only in terms of long-term, you know, having benefits, full benefits, be paid, but also in terms of one of the other challenges that we have is the statute really is, really
doesn't say very much in terms of defining disability. a huge amount of responsibility is placed on the social security administration to develop the supporting policies, to update the policies, and really, to maintain the program. and, you know, as we know, that's technically chparticular for the social security administration. so we have all these competing issues that makes for this cocktail that in my view ultimately hurts people with disabilities. >> thank you. questions from the audience? one right lehere. if you could just wait for the microphone and identify yourself and state your question. we have a microphone down here? in the front? thank you astrid.
this gentleman right here. >> yeah, i wondered if you could talk about senator cotton, his proposal and why lawmakers are so hesitant to take positions on this type of issue. >> thank you. panelists? >> kim, you probably know it best. >> well, i think the, what we know, essentially, is the description that the senator just gave today. it's not been introduced yet, so we still, we don't have the details of the proposal, so his comment tear eye, really, i think speaks for itself in terms of the principles that he has. and so we'll see when the legislation is actually proposed. but i think another challenge, it's very difficult, rarely do we find true leadership in terme of members of congress who really want to stake out a claim for this position. oftentimes the, some of the individuals receiving benefits
and their advocates are, can be very resistant as my fellow panelist said, they can be resistant to change and be very afraid of change. so it can be a very scary thing. any changes to them. and that also makes, you know, our representatives and senators a little bit hesitant to take on these very complex, very big challenges. at the end of the day, i think if members can find bipartisan partners, i think that will also help tremendously, and i think we're starting to see a little bit more of that behind the scenes, this budget was probably one of more minimalist approach certainly, but all of this discussion is helpful to helping the members understand the challenges the program faces and maybe we can work together. >> i think another challenge is historical experience. congress did phase in reforms in the 1980s that strengthened the continuing disability review process, and the social security
administration was encouraged to identify more individuals who were no longer eligible to receive those cash benefits. and the cash benefits were terminated. and there was huge backlash, and congress received many, many, many phone calls from constituents who had been relying on those benefits, even if their medical condition made them no longer eligible, but they had no other sources of income, and when you have a constituent calling saying that they can't pay their mortgage anymore, that has a certain impact on a member of congress. and i think that has a lot to do with it as well. how many other economic opportunities are there for these individuals? and this is, i think, one of the issues that the program does act for too many individuals as a long-term unemployment or early retirement program, and there are lots of incentives in the program that should be changed to not abuse the program in that way, because, in the end, a benefit that goes to someone who is not truly eligible is, that's money that's not available for
an individual who truly cannot work. >> and i think these proposals, transitional benefit and telling certain people that they are expected to return to work, it's, it incites fear in those on the rolls now. i've had phone calls from people who say i've read this, i'm terrified. are they going to up my review and take my benefits away? but that's a result of the current system. that's when i was talking about five months of waiting before you can apply, and then another two years before you get benefits. by that point, individuals believe they are disabled and that they cannot do any work. if you start at the beginning with the transitional benefit, and you say here's system you go through, and it looks more like a private disability insurer, where they're working with the doctors, seeing what kind of workplace support can you have, what type of medical corrections might allow people to perform
jobs or a new type of job through education and training, and people are there along the way showing them how they can get back to work as opposed to receiving a phone call one day saying hey, you're done, your benefits are up. so if we can switch to that structure the fear isn't there. >> one of the major issues is, when you face a long-term fiscal overhang like we do in this disability program or the social security program overall, you can make rather modest reforms now, and the problem of the system and the deafness that has afflicted us all, you can make rather modest reforms now, or can you make very radical and punitive reforms later, and so it's very distressing when the congress just kicks the can down the road. and just opts in effect to do nothing for the next seven years, that, to me, seems like a
very strong abdication of responsibility. we have a question in the back? >> question for you, kim. you said that about 3% of the current ssdi respondents are categorized as expected to have improvement and you also proposed other reforms. what do you think the percentage would be at the end of that overhaul? >> you know, it's difficult to tell, because the combination of the criteria not being updated for examiners, to make the right decisions, we also know that the quality review is very limited on these decisions, if any, so essentially, unless an individual is clearly expected to medically improve, those are the kinds of people that the examiners are going to give that diary type of category. everyone else, there's a medical improvement not expected.
those get a seven-year diary. and then there's a very large cohort in the middle called medical improvement possible. so one of the reasons, too, yeah we believe that the redicktive analytics is important is that they'll use the data itself to show what are the types of impairments that really do result in medical improvement and those predictive analytics continue to use the data on an ongoing basis to ensure that not only do we have a process that's much more accurate in terms of diaries but also a process that's much more fair and consistent across the country, because we've seen some of the challenges that the program has faced, especially when as my colleagues have said, there's a lot of judgment in certain times of impairments, when one is establishing their functional capacity. their capacity that they still may have even with their disability. those functional capacities are determined by individual
examiners, they're determined by administrative law judges. there really is a lot of subjectivity there. so i think the more that we can have the data and the experience of individuals to drive the accuracy of the diary designations, i think definitely, we would see a larger population expected to medically improvement but make no mistake about it. the program really is an important program for those who are not expected to live a long period of time because of their very severe impairments. so we're talking about those who do have those conditions that have expected to improve and what are the kinds of supports that they're getting. right now they're getting nothing under the current program. most often they're continuing disability revies are delayed. and all of a sudden they get a letter saying guess what, now we're going to review your claim. they've had no supports up to that point, and if they're ceased, they're provided no supports at that moment, and we don't believe that that's very
compassionate. >> and i think we have time for one more question. so right here in the front. okay. we have time for two more questions. we'll start here in the front, and then we'll come back to you. >> elliot young with the institute to reduce spending. so just a question for our panelists. given what we've seen with the recent efforts to replenish the highway trust fund and the way people talk about taxes in terms of trying to find ways to reallocate spending, how do you see sort of a long-term effort to smooth out changes in ssdi? i feel like there are a lot of similarities between the sort of concentrated benefits of disbursed costs and just
implementing another tax increase that may be more politically salient even if that's not best in the long term. how do you she playing out, and what are ways that we can perhaps put something on to light that fire? >> the longer we wait, the more likely it will be some type of tax increase fix because you're going to get to a point where the shortfall is imminent and any policy reforms that you can possibly adopt unless you're willing to cut benefits abruptly and steeply, which seems very unfair, and nobody really wants to do, you're going to have to raise taxes or take the money from somewhere else. right now, the money is being taken from somewhere else. but, in the end, it is, you
could see it as just another portion of the tax increase that is to come. because if you are thinking about the last reform effort in social security that was in the '80s, there was a massive tax increase, and there were some small reforms. small reforms that, in today's environment, i would actually consider big reforms like raising the retirement age that probably are small reforms considering the vastness of the problem, but since we haven't had any reform at all in today's context, these would be big reforms. so we need leadership in the congress. presidential leadership can do a lot on those kinds of programs. beyond that, with no legislative urgency, i don't see how we going to get all the interests to come together. you sort of have to face a worse scenario in order to agree to changes that will ultimately make us better off.
>> on the positive side, i would just point to the straighttive changes. a lot of it is determined by ssa, and there are a lot of things that can be done there to increase the efficiency of it, to appropriately determine who is disabled, who is still disabled, and that would go a long way to reducing the cost. >> i would just add that i think a very fundamental question is social security essentially is self-financed. workers pay taxes to get disability benefits, survivor benefits, retirement eventually. so the question is, is social security go the future going to remain simply fself-financed? these are some of the very clear choices that miamis are going to have to think about, especially given the challenges of medicare, tax reform. these are very large questions
that really face them and the american people. so i think that's a very important kind of first question. and everyone pays into social security, everybody gets something out of it. how about if people start getting less and less out of it? then are we going to continue to have public support for the programs? these are tough, tough questions, but they're questions that are going to have to be answered, and quite honestly, as we've said, the sooner the better. >> thank you. and now for the final final question. >> i didn't know if anyone could speak to what the senator mentioned about the regional usage of the benefits, you know, is there a reason for that? or, you know, i just thought that was an interesting point, but i didn't know if there was a cause. >> she's asking about the difference in the regional usage of disability benefits. i'm not an expert but looked at some statistics of the people with disabilities who are employed. and it ranges from over 50% in the dakotas to over 25% in
places like louisiana and west virginia. and i think part of that is cultural and the communities that develop. and oftentimes when a parent is on disability insurance they can get a child on ssi or di benefits, and my guess is that a lot of the cause of that is the community in which they live and others are able to get on benefits and how they're able to get on them and it encourages that. >> it can also be a signal that there is fraud going on. that has certainly happened in some communities where lawyers, disability lawyers have partnered up with physicians. and there have been kickbacks and doing that kind of statistical analysis, sometimes can reveal these sorts of fraud schemes. but i think a lot of it is what other economic opportunities are available in this community, and when there are few then disability becomes a substitute
for earned income. >> just briefly, the congress, or in the law in the statute, in order to determine disability, one has to consider age, education and work experience. how those are implemented by the social security administration is through the so-called medical vocational rules. these rules have been in effect since the '70s. efforts to update them have not been successful in the past. social security has embarked on an effort to begin that updating process, but that's a piece of the social security program that's out there that can cause, you know, differences in award rates, depending upon, again, age, education, work experience of individuals, and so, you know, it's always important to try to keep those rules as current as possible. so. >> thank you very much. please join me in thanking our panel for the discussion today.
to discuss what important issues they want to hear the most from the candidates. follow c-span's student cam contest on tv, on the radio, and on line at c-span.org. on washington journal, we got an update on the 2016 presidential race from a ington reporter covering the campaign trail. this is 45 minutes. gabby is a politics reporter with the "washington examiner", joining us to talk go campaign 2016 after spending several dayt in south carolina. and from the prime time debates, the near constant polling, there's sort of a national vibe of this election. there's so many stories that get caught up in the national cycle. what's happening on the ground
in a key primary state like gu south carolina that the national stories are missing? the >> well, there's, one of the biggest things i saw is the fight among the democratic candidates to earn the black vote in south carolina, which is a large proportion of the vote c that goes to democratic candidates in the primary ther'a so over the weekend, all of the democratic candidates, martin of o'malley, bernie sanders, hillary clinton arrived for then forum.rs in and much of the speech that bernie sanders delivered was tailored to the democratic black vote voters. hillary clinton was in what they call the corridor of shame, af heavily populated by african-americans. you know, reaching those voters, getting to the heart of the ing issues that they are concerned with. so you're seeing different approaches to reaching that demographic, to earning their
trust, earning their support, and hillary clinton did an wh amazing job this weekend doing that. whether you agree with is her not, she is getting in there. she is talking to voters, making sure their issues are addressed. whereas senator sanders is pandering to the typical crowd that he's surrounded himself te with. >> is there a winner of this lled forum? is there such things as winners of forums?asn' >> in debates there is. but the forum was filled with softball questions. it wasn't really an opportunity where either candidate could stand out. i mean they weren't forced to address each other directly. it was a one on one with msnbc's rachel maddow. in the days that followed, hillary clinton demonstrated that she is serious about her ground campaign in south carolina. >> you talked about softball questions. we showed our
viewers a clip of ben carson on "meet the press" e saying that he's been the subject of unfair levels of als" scrutiny. here's a look at the headline.he talk a little bit through the carson strategy in dealing with these latest questions about his biography. >> the strategy has been this is an effort on the behalf of the a liberal mainstream media to attack my campaign, to go after my strength right now, which is his favorability ratings and the fact that voters in nearly evert early primary state view him as a trust wore they aworthy candi. there are constant attacks on ah him regarding the scholarship he was allegedly offered from west point, some of these claims that he's made about an instance where he was at a popeye's chicken and had a gun pulled on him.ig several comments that he's maded
over the years and the books that he's published.that and the carson campaign is trying to spin this and say, look, this is an unfair amount e of strut any that i'm subjected to. this is nothing like the scrutiny that president obama went through when he was being vetted in 2008. it's not like several other candidates hillary clinton has gone through. i have to disagree with that.ura because utiob think that if you running on your auto biography, which ben carson is, because heo doesn't have any political experience, you have to expect people to go and scour through the book that you've written ant look into every story that is ar part of that autobiography.to be really, you're running for the highest office in the country. you should expect to be vetted at this level.ro >> ben carson getting some sympathy from prance an unexpected source yesterday. here's bernie sanders on "meet the press". >> let me quickly ask you about this ben carson stuff, because n
you have seen people leak out stuff you wrote 30 and 40 years ago. is this fair game? >> no. and look, i listen to the interviews with dr. carson. and it's interesting. but, you know what, chuck? of the american people want to know why the middle class of this pl country is disappearing. why we are 47 million people e living in poverty, why we have massive income in wealth inequality. when you look at dr. carson, to the bestca of my knowledge, thi man does not believe that climate change is caused by human activity. this man wants to abolish medicare impacting tens of tax r millions oeaf seniors, and thisa man wants to give huge tax focs breaks to o the rich.ues i know it's a crazy idea, but maybe we focus on the issues impacting the american people and what candidates are saying rather than just spending so much time exploring their timess of 30 or 40 years ago. and i think the reason that so w
many people are turned off to the political process has a lot to do with the fact that we're not talking about the real issues impacting real people. >> his frustration about a lack of focus on the issues, also shown by republican chris christie this week after there were so many media stories about whether he would and then would. not make the prime time, next te republican debate.hese iss how much focus has there been from the candidates just asking the media to focus more on these issues than sort of the day to e day horse purace? cnb >> a tremendous amount. and especially after the last a republican debate that we saw de withs cnbc, a number of the te republican candidate, nearly all, in fact, said that it d didn't focus on the issues. we need to address the economico platforms. a number of candidates are requesting that they be given at least a palestinian and a half -- a palestinian and a half he.
chris christie went after marco rubio, jeb chris christie went off marco rubio for fooeking on their achievements as opposed to their platforms. so there is a tremendous amount of concern that the messages are getting over, you know, swept under the rug with these antics and going forward we have the next debate coming up this week. i think all of these candidates hope to have more of an opportunity to really share their vision for the country as opposed to bickering with each other. >> let's bring in some of our callers, gabby is our guest for the next 40 minutes or so. she's a politics reporter for the "examiner." independents, 202-748-8002.
patty's waiting for you in gulf breeze, florida. good morning. >> caller: good morning. my comment is about scrutinizing the candidates. ben carson is not opposed to scrutinizing, and i believe that he believes like me, that all presidential candidates, in fact all political candidates should be scrutinized. what he is opposed to, as i am opposed to, as much of the public is opposed to, they don't believe the media, because the media lies. >> right, well, patty, earlier their week, we saw ben carson hold a press conference after these claims were made about his admittance to west point where he took questions from a handful of reporters, so he is on top of that. he is addressing these concerns that the media is raising, but at the same time, he has said that the comparison of scrutiny that's been subjected to completely lacks when you look at president obama, when you look at hillary clinton, when you look at several other candidates that have run for the
democratic nomination in past years, so there seems to be, certainly, ben carson understands that every presidential candidate needs to be vetted, but he claims that the extent to which he's being vetted is more than any other candidate in past. >> how much do you think that since he is the republican front runner right now, other republicans jump on this issue in the upcoming debate? >> i don't think that this is an issue that a number of republicans will address, simply because they prefer not to bring up the fact that candidates should be vetted, because that opens the door for them to be vet ed. and we've already seen a number of candidates, donald trump, particularly, have to answer to stories about his history, of, you know supporting higher taxes and things that really are incompatible with the conservative agenda. so he's raised that issue. marco rubio over the weekend has faced questions about his spending when he was in the florida gop, florida house of representatives. so really, all of these candidates understand that this
is a normal part of the political process that they're going to have to face, but ben carson has specifically raised that issue, saying that republicans are perhaps looked at a little bit more closely than the democratic candidates. >> for a look at how ben carson has risen in the polls, this is real clear politics chart of polling numbers from june of last year. you can see all the different candidates, all the different lines. the two lines to keep in mind here. the top line, the blue line of donald trump's polling numbers, and the red line of ben carson. recently catching up to donald trump. i should note that donald trump ahead in the most recent cnn iowa poll that's out there. that poll having trump at 25, carson at 23, followed by rubio at 13, cruz at 11, bush at 5 and so on down the line. we're taking your calls in this segment of the washington jiernl.
phone lines are open if you want to join the conversation, but i want to talk about jeb bush for just a second and his reboot. jeb can fix it has been the theme of his reboot. want to show our viewers a little bit about this. >> a president has to lead. the president can't say it's somebody else's fault. the president can't say you're fired when you go to commercial break. the president has to roll up their damn sleeves and get to work foc fixing the things. i know how to do it. i promise you that. >> as far as reboots of a campaign go, what do you think of "jeb can fix it"? >> he's continuing to go and talk to voters about his record, and so far, we haven't seen that work for him.
he's gone after several candidates. that hasn't worked for him either. the fund-raising numbers are down. he's currently facing crossroads where he has to overcome the hurdle of marco rubio rising in the republican field. this is somebody who he mentored, who is now courting donors that previously supported bush, and he has to ensure that he's taking those donors, and, you know, making sure that they are, you know, that three are aware that he is doing what he can to increase his poll numbers and get out there and get his message heard, but as far as his reboot goes so far, it hasn't done much. and i don't think we will see it do much unless we have a sfel ar performance in the next debate, but really, it's not doing much for him. >> jeb bush, marco rubio, current senator from florida. let's go to florida where frank's waiting on our line for republicans. good morning. >> good morning, everyone. i was watching hillary clinton's
talk the last couple days at the black college in south carolina. and she said something. one of the students asked her a question about gun control and how innocent people are being killed in some cases. by these guns that are in people's houses and are loaded. and she said yes, these innocent people have, their lives are precious. they have dignity, they have potential. and they a right to life. which, i agree with wholeheartedly, however, she does not apply the same standards to the unborn little black girls and boys who she advocates allowing to be killed in their mothers' wombs. this, i just don't understand how she can say that about those who are born and not about the little black girls and boys who are unborn, but she advocates allowing their mothers to kill
them in the womb. >> well, that is the one of the biggest areas of disconnect that republican candidates have pointed out in terms of the message on behalf of democrats. carly fiorina has been a leading critic of hillary clinton on her record regarding women's issues, regarding equal pay, abortion, reproductive rights, and she compares that, as you mention, to her remarks on gun rights and gun control and gun safety legislation. and protecting innocent children, protecting innocent persons across the country, but not having the same stance when it comes to protecting the unborn. so this is an area of criticism where hillary clinton has had to answer to in the past, and i'm she'll have to continue to answer to that if she is the democratic nominee. >> clinton woos voters in south carolina as sanders sticks to his normal crowd.
taking your call cas for the ne half hour or so. >> caller: i want to take exception to the statement that both parties do it. >> both parties do what? >> caller: both, your guest stated that, you know, the ridiculous campaign stunts is by both parties. and with ben carson being under scrutiny, i mean, everything that he's written has been, they're just proving that, you know, he's embellished the facts. some really crazy ideas. if that does not need to be out there and foot of the voters, i don't know what does. thanks. guest: there certainly issues on both sides that republicans and democrats have face and had to answer to. i will point out that after these concerns works brought up, regarding ben carson's record, he held a press conference and
addressed these concerns, whereas hillary clinton on the democratic side has not held any long press conference where reporters have been able to ask about her e-mails. she actually shut down a press conference. ben carson, some of these claims may prove to be true, but at least he is out there addressing these concerns, which he can honestly say we have not seen from hillary clinton. camp hillary clinton's said that the 11 hour grilli that happened before the house committee -- do they say that has been enough to address some of these concerns? guest: that is certainly the way they would spin it. you also need to speak to members of the press. hillary clinton has been one of
the least willing candidates to .o so she has done a couple interviews over the summer, but most of them have been softball interviews. she is really not taking the hard questions, and i think that is why her favorability numbers are down and the majority of a americans view her as untrustworthy pure she could improve her image if she were more willing to speak to members of the press and open the address the concerns that americans have. host: frank is up next. good morning. caller: how are you doing? host: good, go ahead. caller: i would just like to say -- they have no record. why is it not fair for the media to build them a record?
hillary clinton has a record, a real long record, and a real good one, but ben carson has no record. you see him getting mad because they are choking him out. he is saying stuff that makes no sense. i think you are doing it just because he is black. not because he is black, but he is a republican, and has no agenda. he said something to the president about the health care. people have pushed him up to run for president. i'm african-american. to be that.ant i will listen to your remarks, if you have any. host: do you want to jump in? guest: i would say that i'm a firm believer in every candidate being forced to answer to the
tough questions. i think ben carson, hillary clinton, and every other democrat and republican running for the office of the presidency need to face a point where there are concerns being raised and they need to answer the tough questions. has been open to answering them. he may be scrutinizing the media being madeomments about him, but at least he is out there addressing them, and addressing them one-on-one with reporters, speaking to members of the press, going on some of these networks and talking about the issues, which is something -- this is stated matter-of-factly -- something we have not made hillary clinton do. i'm neither defending or criticizing ben carson, but i do want to point out that he is axing fielding questions and answering to some of these tough concerns that are being raised. host: in terms of the policy issues that candidates ask
reporters to return the focus two, when his ben carson expected to release more deep policy papers? guest: his campaign has not mentioned when they plan to do that. we have yet to see a firm tax plan from ben carson, which is something that marco rubio has done, donald trump, jeb bush, nearly every other candidate has released. he has spoken on his tax plan and economic message, but it is very vague. i think it is something that perhaps in the next debate he will have to bring up an address. another issue is foreign policy. you have a number of candidates with significant foreign policy talks -- carly fiorina and specifically areafortunate, that is an of the ben carson does not have
expertise, and he is capable of handling america's foreign affairs if he wants to be president. host: roberta is up next, line for independents. caller: good morning. i enjoy the show. what i wanted to say is i have never seen, and all my years of watching politics, anybody delving into ben carson's childhood friends, and people in 40 years ago. my question is why don't you ever see a reporter on the liberal side delving into what inppened and been causing -- benghazi, questioning all the people on the ground, questioning people whether or not they thought they could go in and help the ambassador. i feel that it is because he is not a politician, they always want to get these gotcha