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Democrats Plan to Strengthen Social Security Not Dismantle it

March 14, 2005

Two weeks ago, President Bush quickly stopped in on Westfield, New Jersey to talk to a bunch of his supporters about his Social Security privatization proposal. The Westfield stop was part of a six-week push to convince Americans that the Social Security program faces an immediate crisis. The traveling salesman didn't do as well as he wanted----and so now the president has hired a couple of public relations experts to run a war room at the Social Security Administration. The administration is also beginning a 60-day push to convince voters that his privatization plan is the best thing for both seniors today and young people tomorrow.

President Bush has failed in convincing Americans that his plan is the way to go----because he's even admitted that privatization does nothing to fix the solvency problem Social Security faces in 2052.

As the president goes around the country pitching his privatization plan, he continues to exaggerate Social Security's current fiscal state. For example, in Westfield, he claimed, "the safety net has a hole in it," and he continues to say that the whole system goes broke in 2042. This is simply not true.

Based on the most current estimates from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, Social Security is fully solvent until 2052----meaning that every benefit that has been promised to seniors, the disabled and survivors can be paid through 2052. Imagine that. There is no other government program that is fully funded for the next forty-seven years. And President Bush calls this a crisis!

The president is also wrong when he says the program goes broke in 2042. As I just stated, the program is fully solvent for another decade after that, but what exactly happens in 2052? When President Bush says Social Security goes "broke" most would believe there's no money left for Social Security. After all, Webster's Dictionary defines "broke" simply as "penniless." This is another fabrication on the president's part. Even after 2052, the Social Security system would still have enough money to be able to pay out 80-percent of all guaranteed benefits. That doesn't sound broke to me.

So, the president exaggerates the solvency of Social Security, but what has he proposed that will extend that solvency beyond 2052? As of today----nothing. In New Jersey, the president said "We've got to make sure we save the safety net for future generations." But, even the president has admitted that his privatization plan does nothing to extend the solvency of Social Security. In fact, because the president's plan would take money out of the Social Security Trust Fund to pay for these private accounts, Social Security would become insolvent more than 20 years earlier under the president's plan. So, even if you believe there is a crisis today, the president has already admitted that his privatization proposal does nothing to fix that crisis.

So, we have a president that has invented an immediate crisis and has thrown out a very basic privatization proposal that does nothing to solve his invented crisis. Why would President Bush propose a Social Security privatization plan that leaves the program worse off after he's done with it?

The president doesn't want to fix the Social Security program we've had in place for the past 70 years. Instead, he wants to privatize it. He talks about creating an "ownership society" but his proposal creates an "on your own society."

Social Security gave our parents and grandparents independence. Democrats are willing to work with the president in a bipartisan fashion to address Social Security's future, but we simply refuse to support the president's privatization proposal that dismantles the independence Social Security affords our seniors today and our children when they retire in the future