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July 31, 2001
Social Security Proposal Shot Down
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leaders of both parties in the U.S. House of Representatives, Republican Speaker J. Dennis Hastert and Democrat Richard A. Gephardt, have said they would not support a bill that would make the sort of changes in Social Security being sought by President Bush.

The New York Times says the proposal, written by Representatives Jim Kolbe, Republican of Arizona, and Charles W. Stenholm, Democrat of Texas, is intended to achieve President Bush's goal of creating investment accounts for all workers.

But the bill would accomplish that at the cost of cuts in guaranteed benefits, especially for middle- and upper-income workers, according to the Times.

"It's not a proposal that I would support. I welcome anyone bringing forward proposals," Gephardt, Democrat of Missouri, said on CNN's "Late Edition." "There will be lots of proposals in front of us."

Hastert, Republican of Illinois, said on NBC's "Meet the Press" called the proposed legislation
unacceptable in its current form.

He added: "And we've said before, we're not going to raise taxes for Social Security, and we're not going to cut the benefits. That's something we've said a couple years ago, when I first became speaker."

President Bush has set up a special commission to examine Social Security, and the proposal largely tracks the approach set out by Bush when he established a commission this spring to develop a plan.

But Gephardt, in criticizing the commission as one-sided, called for creating a new one. Though the current 16-member commission is evenly divided between Republicans and Democrats, Gephardt said its members were predisposed to Bush's plan to privatize part of the Social Security system.

"That is why we need a different commission that is put together in a different way," Gephardt said.

"He didn't ask Democratic leaders and senior group leaders of labor or business for recommendations of who to put on the commission, as President Reagan did in 1983," Gephardt said of the president. "He just put people on who were predisposed, in our view, toward his plan, that is not bipartisanship."

Critics say the panel is exaggerating the retirement program's financial problems so it can promote private investment accounts.

The panel plans to make its recommendations later this year. In the meantime, it is releasing an interim report outlining financial problems it says the program will face as the baby-boom generation begins to retire in a decade.

To view the New York Times story, click here. Registration required.
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