Federal News Service
SECTION: PRESS CONFERENCE OR SPEECH
HEADLINE: CONGRESSIONAL NEWS CONFERENCE ON PRESIDENT BUSH'S STATE OF THE UNION MESSAGE REGARDING SOCIAL SECURITY REFORM
PARTICIPANTS: REP. JIM KOLBE (R-AZ); REP. CHARLES STENHOLM (R-TX); SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC); REP. MARSHA BLACKBURN (R-TN); REP. NICK SMITH (R-MI); REP. SAM JOHNSON (R-TX); AND SENATOR JOHN SUNUNU (R-NH)
SEN. GRAHAM: If you want to make it the centerpiece of your campaign, or at least honestly talk about it, you'd better get ready for people to dump a bunch of ads on your head. And I hope that climate changes.
In the last campaign cycle, John and I and several people running for the Senate, people in the House traditionally who have been brave enough to talk about reform, have been met with demagoguery; in my campaign, almost $2 million worth of ads, along the lines that "Lindsey Graham wants to raise your taxes by a trillion dollars." And the truth is, there's a transition cost. But no one in the ad told you that if you do nothing, you wind up owing $25 trillion.
"Lindsey Graham wants to take your money and put it in Enron stock." They forgot to tell you that the option is yours to choose how to invest your money and that we're not going to make day traders of the public.
So my hope is that the Democrat and Republican Party-and that's why I like Charlie so much, because he's really been a leader on the Democratic side to do this-and the people behind me in the House, the whole cadre, they've been brave for a long period of time.
But the clock is ticking. We're running out of time. To me it's political malpractice for people to be in the House and the Senate and not have a game plan on how to save Social Security, because we're literally running out of time. And every year you put it off, it makes it much harder to solve the problem.
So I'm very proud of the president's leadership, talking about it openly. But Charlie's right. The time for talking has to come to an end. And if you don't like my solution, that's fine. All I ask is that you have a solution of your own that leads to solvency. And in a bipartisan way we will solve this problem.
I was very disappointed last night when the president mentioned this topic and half the people in my party stayed seated, and only one person that I saw on the other side stood up. We've got to do better.