(Washington, DC) -- Former House Aging Committee Staff Director Robert
Weiner, who served under Committee Chairman Claude Pepper (D-FL), in response
to Federal Reserve Board Chair Alan Greenspan’s latest comments on Social
Security before a global population conference widely reported in the media,
is taking strong issue over Greenspan’s warning over the system’s solvency
and his call for benefit reductions.
Weiner asks, “Has Alan Greenspan finally lost it? His latest warning on social security – ‘I fear we may have … promised more than our economy has the ability to deliver’ – ignores the Congressional Budget Office’s June report that the system is solvent with no changes for fifty years, ten more than previously thought. The Social Security Trustees’ own report this year also added time to the expectation for solvency.
Weiner continues, “There is no need to scare potential retirees by calling for raising the age of eligibility, increasing payroll taxes, or voluntarizing the system. It is all well and good for the government to find ways to compensate for the administration’s tax cuts and the war in Iraq, but there are obvious answers for each without stealing from the solvent Social Security Fund. While I was Staff Director of the House Aging Committee, I remember when the late champion of the elderly, Congressman Claude Pepper (D-FL), Chairman of the committee, expressed outrage back in 1978 at Carter Commerce Secretary Juanita Kreps’ suggestion in the press to increase the retirement age. Pepper demanded and got a meeting of Kreps with himself and House Social Security Subcommittee Chairman James Burke (D-MA) and said he and Burke would ‘fight it to our death.’ Kreps finally responded. ‘Well, I haven’t made the proposal anyway.’ That’s how it’s done, and that’s the courage we need from somewhere now.
“John Kerry has in fact said ‘Never’ to reducing or voluntarizing social security benefits; George Bush has proposed partial voluntarization.
Weiner adds, “Greenspan does have a point on Medicare, but he links social security and Medicare together even though the two programs have separate trust funds. The newly added prescription program does threaten Medicare financing. Solutions including allowing the government to negotiate rates and permitting cheaper imports, blocked by the administration, need to be employed. Greenspan addresses neither. John Kerry supports both, and President Bush opposes both – again, the American people can impact the debate.
“Especially as the elections approach, it’s time for real policy discussions instead of stirring up fear when debating social security and Medicare. Fed Chairman Greenspan should know better,” Weiner concludes.
Weiner was Staff Director of the House Aging Committee 1976-1980, and later served as communication director for the House Government Operations Committee and the White House Drug Policy Office. He is now president of a public affairs and issue strategies company.
(Source: Robert Weiner Associates 301-283-0821)