News Release

Social Security Panel

Today, President Bush named members of a new White House panel aimed at overhauling Social Security. Among those on the commission are individuals associated with AOL Time Warner, Reliant Equity Investors, Fidelity Investments, the World Bank and the American Enterprise Institute. The following analysts are available for interviews:

DIANA ZUCKERMAN
President of the National Center for Policy Research for Women and Families, Zuckerman said today: “Social Security is the most important anti-poverty program in the U.S., providing a safety net for every citizen, even if they live to be 100 — or more. It deserves an open-minded commission. Instead, the members of this important commission had to pass a litmus test — they had to support private accounts. Private accounts would be a radical change from our current system, and are very controversial, with experts with very strong feelings on both sides of the controversy. Whether you love private accounts or hate them, you probably would want members of this commission to have to pass just one litmus test: the desire to strengthen Social Security in whatever ways would be best for all Americans. Many of us hope that any reform will be especially beneficial to those who depend on Social Security the most. The retirees who are most dependent on Social Security are low earners, most of whom are women. And yet this commission includes only four women out of its sixteen members. Many of its members are impressive, and very knowledgeable about Social Security, but how many of them have focused their attention on the impact of Social Security reform on women?”
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DEAN BAKER
Co-author of Social Security: The Phony Crisis and co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, Baker said today: “It is unfortunate that the Bush administration feels the need to use fear and deception to advance its Social Security agenda. The Social Security trustees projections, the basis for all Social Security policy analysis, show that the program will be able to pay all scheduled benefits for the next 37 years, even if no changes are ever made. Similarly, the projections show that the program will always be able to pay a larger real (inflation adjusted) benefit than current retirees receive, if nothing is ever done. Rather than call attention to these facts, the administration is trying to push through a major restructuring at a time when large segments of the public mistakenly believe that they will never receive benefits under the current system. The administration has also made claims about returns from individual accounts which cannot be supported. The only projections of stock returns that have been derived from the Social Security trustees projections for the growth of the economy and profits show that real stock returns will average just over 3.5 percent annually during the 75-year planning period. The difference between 3.5 percent stock returns and the 3.0 percent return that the trust fund is projected to receive on its government bonds will not even be large enough to cover the administrative costs of the individual accounts.”
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For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; David Zupan, (541) 484-9167