Leahy Rejects House GOP Leader's Idea For Cutting Women's Benefits By 'Gender-Adjusting' Social Security
Wednesday, January 19, 2005
[Rep. Bill Thomas (R-Calif.), chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, on Tuesday called President Bush's Social Security plan "a dead horse" and suggested instead a broader review of changes in the structure of Social Security, including differing benefit rates for women and men because women live longer. "We have never debated gender-adjusting Social Security," said Thomas, who chairs the House panel with principal jurisdiction over Social Security issues. Following are the comments Wednesday in Burlington, Vt., of Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), who rejected the idea of creating different classes of Social Security benefits for men and women.]
"Adding gender discrimination to Social Security is a terrible idea. Sad to say, but it's only the latest of a series of bad ideas that would undermine a system that needs to be supported and strengthened, not dismantled and privatized.
"Ida Mae Fuller of Vermont received Social Security's very first benefit check. Ever since that day Social Security has been a dependable lifeline for men and women alike. How could it possibly now be fair to punish every woman, month after month in her Social Security check, based on some actuarial table?
"Our goal should be to strengthen Social Security and to find new ways to help Americans save for retirement, without the massive benefit cuts and trillions of dollars in new debt that the President's plan would entail. If we keep that goal in mind, we can find sound and sensible answers."