Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

The Sky Is Not Falling

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

The Sky Is Not Falling

Article excerpt

Though the 13 members of the special commission on Social Security were divided about how best to assure the system's long-term future, they were unanimous in saying that Social Security was in sound condition and, moreover, that there was nothing wrong that couldn't be fixed rather easily. Maybe now the Chicken Little brigade will retire from the field. Contrary to what the alarmists have been saying, Social Security does not face bankruptcy, nor is it the cause of the federal budget deficit.

Given the politically sensitive nature of Social Security and the array of more pressing issues, neither Congress nor the White House is likely to press for early action on the report, which was issued after two years of study. What is needed at this point is a strong commitment from both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue to the Social Security system as it exists today. Now is the time to nip the privatization movement in the bud. The same mindset that led Congress to pass a welfare bill that told poor people they were on their own should not be allowed to dominate thinking about Social Security.

Of three groups within the Social Security commission, two favor fundamental changes and one wants to keep the system basically as it stands. One of the groups recommending a new approach wants to increase the Social Security payroll tax for workers by 1.6 percentage points, with the money that tax raises going into individual accounts directed by the government. The other would move Social Security strongly toward privati zation. It calls for earmarking a portion of the Social Security payroll tax for mandatory individual retirement accounts that would be called Personal Security Accounts. Each worker would control his or her investments. Social Security would provide only a basic benefit, equivalent to $410 a month today. …

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