WASHINGTON, Jan. 4 (UPI) -- Some liberals say they fear U.S. President Obama will offer up Social Security to Republicans to help secure a "yes" vote to raise the nation's debt ceiling.
Recognizing that Social Security has long-term issues, advocates said they want to see its future handled through the congressional hearing process, not become part of a back-room deal, The Hill reported Tuesday.
Some conservatives say such fears are unfounded, guessing that Obama won't do anything unless he's elected to a second term since Social Security is such a volatile matter.
Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina says he won't vote to raise the debt ceiling unless Social Security is reformed.
"I will not vote for the debt ceiling increase until I see a plan in place that will deal with our long-term debt obligation, starting with Social Security," Graham said Sunday on NBC's "Meet The Press."
He said he wanted a "real bipartisan effort to make sure that Social Security stays solvent," including "adjusting the age (and) looking at (a) means test for benefits."
Graham said Congress should review the Obama debt commission's Social Security recommendations, which included raising the retirement age to 68 by 2050 and 69 by 2075, and lowering benefits for recipients in higher income brackets.
Liberals, already seething because of the tax package Obama recently negotiated with congressional Republicans, said they fear Social Security is at greater risk today than in 2005 when President George W. Bush proposed broad changes to the program, including personal accounts.
"What I am really afraid of is another deal behind closed doors," said Nancy Altman, co-director of Social Security Works. "At least with President Bush, he went around the country on a tour and presented his plan and people didn't like it."