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Damaging Social Security

Location: Washington, DC

DAMAGING SOCIAL SECURITY -- (House of Representatives - February 01, 2005)

I yield to one of the organizers, the gentleman from New Jersey (Mr. Pallone). I thank him for his leadership on putting together this Special

Order and his leadership on so many important issues before this body.

Mr. PALLONE. First of all I want to thank my friend from New York (Mrs. Maloney) for organizing this Special Order this evening. She has been a strong advocate for women in the U.S. House for many years, and she is also a strong advocate for protecting and strengthening Social Security. As we know, the gentlewoman from New York was so concerned by the comments that Ways and Means Chairman Bill Thomas made last month supporting the exploration of Social Security formulas based on race and gender that she drafted a letter to President Bush that was signed by several dozen of my Democratic colleagues, including myself. In that letter, Democrats categorically stated that we would not accept a Social Security formula based on race or gender.

I just wanted to comment on Social Security and women. I know many of my colleagues have done so this night in this Special Order; but as we know, more than 24 million women receive Social Security; and without it, over half of all senior women would live in poverty, without those benefits. Cutting benefits by almost 50 percent, as Republicans have proposed, would make it impossible for millions of women and children to achieve financial security. Cutting benefits just for women, as Ways and Means Chairman Thomas suggested should at least be explored, he said, would be even more unfair and that is because Social Security is a good deal for women. Because women only make 77 cents for every dollar a man makes and have less time in the workforce, they would receive less than men from their private accounts. The largest group of losers from privatizing Social Security would be women. This is true for women in all birth years, all kinds of marital status and all income levels. This was the most critical finding in a recent comprehensive analysis of privatization proposals.

I just wanted to say again, I think that what the Bush administration and the Republicans are really trying to do here, let us be honest, is destroy Social Security. Republicans do not want to reform Social Security. They want to destroy it. For years, Republicans have been saying that the only way to reform Social Security programs is to privatize it. President Bush said exactly that back in 1978 when he was running for the U.S. House. Then House candidate George W. Bush said, and I am quoting, I think it, meaning Social Security, will be a bust in 10 years unless there are some changes. The ideal solution would be for Social Security to be made sound and people given the chance to invest the money the way they feel.

That is what he is trying to do. This is 30 years ago. They are trying to destroy Social Security. History has proven that President Bush was wrong. He was advocating privatization as a way to save Social Security back in 1978. President Reagan and congressional Democrats had a different opinion. In 1983 in a bipartisan manner, President Reagan and House Speaker Tip O'Neill came together and reformed Social Security without privatization. It could be done then. It can certainly be done today. We do not have a crisis. This is something that can be easily fixed if we sit down. We do not have to destroy Social Security. We certainly should not deal with this on a gender or racial basis.

I really appreciate the fact tonight that so many of our colleagues joined the gentlewoman from New York because I think it is really crucial that we make this point.

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