Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Seeing the Forest

Thank you Mr. Graham! Finally someone in the government is waking up and seeing this as it is. Whether or not there are privatized accounts, the fiscal crisis for social security remains. The Baby boomers will retire and Bush's plan does absolutely nothing to fix the current crisis.

Graham Says GOP Erred By Focusing on Accounts
By Mike Allen
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, March 9, 2005; Page A08

Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.), who has spent weeks attempting to recruit Democratic support for a plan to restructure Social Security, said yesterday that Republicans "made a strategic mistake" by initially focusing on a proposal to create individual investment accounts.

The accounts, the centerpiece of President Bush's proposal, would benefit young and poorer workers by letting them use compound interest to help make up for any benefit reductions, Graham said. But he said the accounts, by themselves, will not fix the solvency problem Social Security faces as baby boomers begin to retire.

"We've now got this huge fight over a sideshow," Graham said during a meeting with Washington Post reporters and editors. "It's always been a sideshow, but we sold it as the main event. [Critics are] attacking it as the undoing of Social Security. That's what frustrates me -- that we're off in a ditch over a sideshow, and there's plenty of blame to go around."

The House will take its first formal step toward a Social Security bill today when Ways and Means Committee Chairman Bill Thomas (R-Calif.) holds a hearing about the future of the benefits system. The session will feature testimony from Comptroller General David M. Walker, who heads the Government Accountability Office, and two trustees of the Social Security system, Thomas R. Saving and John L. Palmer.

Graham's comments echoed those of Senate Finance Committee Chairman Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa), who said last week that he wants to encourage Democrats to participate in the debate by first focusing on solvency questions and later taking up the issue of individual accounts.

Graham, who is advancing an alternative to Bush's plan, suggested the same tack. "Let's have a conversation along these lines: Let's make a commitment to permanently find solvency, and see where we go," he said. "Set the accounts aside for a moment. Let's see if we can find solvency."

(Full Story)

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