Democrat Bob Kerrey is in Nebraska, not North Carolina.
“I’m not at the Democratic convention in Charlotte for a reason,” Kerrey tells Nebraska Radio Network. “And the primary reason is that the message I’m delivering to Nebraska voters would probably not be welcome at the Democratic convention.”
Kerrey, a candidate for United States Senate, says that message is that the country’s biggest budget problem is the unfunded liabilities facing Social Security and Medicare. Kerrey says neither Democrats nor Republicans have faced the looming crisis facing the nation’s two largest entitlement programs.
Kerrey says Democrats wouldn’t welcome his message that tough choices need to be made now to keep Social Security and Medicare from going bankrupt later.
“That’s the reason I don’t think my message in Charlotte would be welcomed very well, because I think Democrats are responsible for it and I think Republicans are responsible for it,” Kerrey says. “This is not a problem in my view that you can lay off on Liberals or Conservatives. They both have been a part of it.”
In addition, Kerrey criticizes both presidential tickets for not addressing the problem. He notes that President Obama established the bi-partisan National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, better known as the Simpson-Bowles report for chairmen Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson, and has all but ignored its recommendations. Kerrey points out that Republican Vice Presidential candidate Paul Ryan, a Congressman from Wisconsin, voted against the report as a member of the commission.
Kerrey backs the reforms suggested by the Simpson-Bowles commission, noting that it recommends increasing benefits for low-wage workers, allowing disabled workers to stay in the workforce and retain half of their benefits and providing enhanced benefits for the elderly who have depleted their savings.
“I like a number of the programmatic improvements, but the most important thing is when and if that becomes law, you take Social Security off the list of concerns. We have fully funded the program for everybody who’s eligible today and everybody who is going to be eligible in the future,” Kerrey says.
Kerrey criticizes his Republican opponent, state Sen. Deb Fischer, for stating she wouldn’t touch the benefits or raise taxes on anyone over 40. He insists that places far too much burden on younger workers.
AUDIO: Democrat Bob Kerrey discusses entitlement reform with Brent Martin. [7:40]