Wednesday, February 09, 2005

"Mr. President, about your 'political capital;' the People's Bank called...

You seem to be overdrawn...."

The White House has told lawmakers it has no immediate plans to submit its own detailed proposal to Congress for overhauling Social Security, sources briefed by the administration said on Tuesday.

President Bush has made adding private retirement accounts to the Social Security system his top domestic priority. The proposal has run into opposition from Democrats and some of Bush's fellow Republicans.

Bush bases his call for a broad overhaul of the 70-year-old Social Security program on his contention it is headed into a financial crisis, a characterization Democrats, and many in his own Republican Party, say exaggerates the problem.

Republican and Democratic congressional aides said the White House made clear in briefings this week it would not submit a legislative proposal, at least not for the time being. Instead, the White House will try to coordinate efforts with lawmakers crafting their own proposals.

A senior Bush administration official said no final decision had been made. "If there comes a point when the president needs to spell out specific legislation, he won't hesitate," the official said.

A Democratic congressional aide said the White House was "backsliding" in the face of stiffer-than-expected opposition.
The President also thinks we don't even have a Social Security fund at all:

Some in our country think that Social Security is a trust fund -- in other words, there's a pile of money being accumulated. That's just simply not true. The money -- payroll taxes going into the Social Security are spent. They're spent on benefits and they're spent on government programs. There is no trust. We're on the ultimate pay-as-you-go system -- what goes in comes out. And so, starting in 2018, what's going in -- what's coming out is greater than what's going in. It says we've got a problem. And we'd better start dealing with it now. The longer we wait, the harder it is to fix the problem.

...It's the younger workers who ought to be asking the members of the Congress and the President of the United States, what are you going to do to fix the problem.

And I'm looking forward to working with Congress to fix the problem. All ideas are on the table except running up the payroll tax.
However, the "young people in this country don't have a lobbying group. Those near retirement do, and the AARP has an alternative in mind:

The U.S. retirement system does not need a major overhaul or private accounts and can be stabilized through a series of smaller fixes, the nation's largest lobby group for the elderly said on Wednesday.

The AARP, formerly known as the American Association for Retired Persons, said the amount of wages that can be taxed for Social Security should be raised from $90,000 to $140,000. The change could be phased in over about 10 years and would cut the projected shortfall by 43 percent.

Too bad that's not on the table. Would be nice if something was, since this White House thinks this is a "crisis."

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