Dayton v. Kennedy

Returning Senator Mark Dayton to the Ranks of the Idle Rich in 2006

1/11/2005

Bush in WSJ on Social Security Reform

President Bush offers his thoughts on Social Security in today's WSJ:

The big issue that Congress will be confronted with early is the -- and part of the ownership society initiative -- is Social Security. The initial debate should be whether or not there is a problem. That became very clear in the presidential debates. There was a difference of opinion between me and my opponent, Senator Kerry. Senator Kerry said that he believed we could grow our way out of the Social Security dilemma. I don't believe that. This is a structural problem that we need to address now, because the problem only becomes worse -- the structural problem -- by virtue of the fact the system was designed when there was a multiplicity of workers, 16, I guess, workers for every recipient, maybe 17 workers for every recipient, and today there's three workers for every recipient. And so there will be two workers for every recipient. In other words, there's not enough people putting money into the pot to pay for that which Congress has promised. And now is the time to fix the issue.

So the initial debate will be whether there's a problem at all, because if over half the Congress doesn't think there's a problem, nothing will happen. This administration firmly believes there is a problem; and not only that, believes that once we recognize the problem, we have a duty to do something about it.

And that's -- maybe that's my nature as a person in public office. I'd like it to be said after, now, my 14 years in public service that when the man saw a problem, he went after it to try to solve it. That was his calling. That's what he felt like was necessary to do, as opposed to shirking the problem and kind of passing it off. I made that point a lot in the campaign. I said, elect me again because I understand the job of a President is to solve problems, not pass them on.

Obviously, within the Social Security debate -- I'm sure you'll ask me questions about it, you're going to want me to try to write the plan right now. Well, after four years as the President, I'm pretty wise about -- I've warned members of the pool that come in here, I'm not negotiating with myself. On the other hand, I have laid out principles.

And one of the important issues in Social Security -- I think two of the things that are going to be important for the members to understand, once they've come to the realization there is a problem, is that no longer can they frighten seniors by saying, if we -- if we do this, seniors aren't going to get their checks. I think it's become pretty clear in people's minds that the issue is not -- does not revolve around those who have retired or those who are near retirement. The issue, really, is about younger workers, and most younger workers believe that they're not going to see a dime unless something is done. And most younger workers, as far as I can tell, like the idea of being able to take some of their own money and managing for their own retirement, in order to more likely fulfill -- have the promise of Social Security fulfilled. So it's going to be an interesting issue and one I'm looking forward to.

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