Feb 212005
Authors: Nicole Barrett

President Bush put Social Security high on his agenda for his second term, urging a bipartisan effort to reform the program before it is anticipated to become bankrupt in 2042.

Every employed person pays social security in each paycheck as a part of the tax system. The money taken from each check is set aside for future use in retirement, which typically starts soon after individuals reach the age of 60.

"If we don't act now, we will face dramatic tax increases or severe benefit cuts," said Angela de Rocha, communications director for Sen. Wayne Allard.

Bush labeled Social Security a crisis in his State of the Union Address, with projections indicating insolvency. Not everyone shares the president's view.

"Something needs to be done, but it is not a crisis," said Cody Wertz, spokesman for Sen. Ken Salazar.

John Straayer, political science professor, agreed that Bush overstated the problem more severely than it actually is.

"President Bush is trying to convince us we are facing a crisis needing his solution," Straayer said.

Of the actions available to remedy Social Security the president supports privatization. Private accounts would allow taxpayers to set aside some of their own money for retirement, rather than leaving all money in government accounts.

"It would be their nest egg, their heirs can inherit it. You can't do that with Social Security," de Rocha said.

The method of privatization the president supports would detract from the amount of social security going in, possibly weakening the system more, Wertz said.

Other ideas for reform include: limiting benefits for the wealthy, increasing the retirement age or changing the benefit formula, according to a statement released from the White House.

"Privatization might be part of (the program's) future but not by taking out of Social Security," Wertz said.

Privately investing in Social Security allows citizens to have a greater say in their retirement, not solely receiving what the government gives them for their years of labor.

"People should have a say, they earned it, they sacrificed for it, they got out of bed every morning for 50 years," de Rocha said.

Implementing the private accounts could increase the federal deficit by $ 2.2 trillion in the next 10 years.

To start this program in a time of war is "fiscally irresponsible," Wertz said.

Social Security reform will take time before it reaches completion, according to a White House news release.

"A bill that will make everyone happy is out of the question," Straayer said.

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