Idaho Examiner - Sen. Larry Craig News Releases

Friday, June 24, 2005

CRAIG COSPONSORS SOCIAL SECURITY REFORM BILL

Legislation includes personal retirement accounts, prohibits spending surplus

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Idaho Senator Larry Craig became an original cosponsor today of legislation that will prohibit the federal government from spending the Social Security surplus revenues for other purposes and establish limited personal retirement accounts within the Social Security benefit.

Introduced today, the legislation would ensure that revenues collected for Social Security are always available for future Social Security benefits. The bill would do this by walling off surplus revenues in personal retirement accounts (PRAs) legally owned by workers themselves. This would prevent the counting of Social Security revenues in ways that mask the true size of federal budget deficits.

These personal accounts would be completely voluntary for today’s workers younger than age 55 and could be invested only in safe U.S. government bonds. These surplus funds have always been invested in similar bonds, but those bonds have been legally owned by the Social Security system, which is part of the government, and not owned by individuals.

“While this is not a comprehensive solution to the problems facing Social Security right now, it is a decisive step in the right direction,” Craig said. “I think all the cosponsors recognize that this is a part – not all – of the solution. All Americans deserve to have a piece of President Bush’s ownership society. Ever since Social Security was created in the 1930s, the government has promised to pay benefits, but the government continues to own all the dollars deposited in the Social Security trust funds. With this bill, individual workers and beneficiaries would begin to have legal ownership of their own accounts, instead of the government. Unlike some of the failed proposals in past Congresses, this is a genuine lockbox.”

Craig continued, “This bill sends a very clear message: you can either support saving Social Security surpluses for future Social Security beneficiaries, or you can support the status quo. I know most Senators believe the status quo is unacceptable. I continue to support broader personal account reforms and want to see Congress address comprehensive reforms like those outlined by the President and bipartisan experts. The bill we introduce today is a good down payment on that process.”
Senator Craig is the former chairman of the Senate Special Committee on Aging, which actively investigated the Social Security program and other issues important to America’s seniors. He currently serves as chairman of the White House Commission on Aging’s Economic Security Subcommittee, which also deals with Social Security issues.

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