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January 4, 1998

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Clinton To Push For Social Security Fix

Clinton graphic

WASHINGTON (AllPolitics, Jan. 4) -- Saving Social Security may become the focal point of President Bill Clinton's domestic agenda for 1998.

Administration officials tell CNN the president may include in his State of the Union address, scheduled for later this month, a call for Congress to deal with Social Security reform by 1999.

The address may also include some of Clinton's own ideas on how to keep Social Security from going bankrupt within the next 30 years, according to the Washington Post. Until now, Clinton has avoided revealing his ideas on Social Security reform because he wanted the solutions to arise from the bipartisan process.

Sources tell CNN the president has all but ruled out calling for a bipartisan commission to deal with the issue. One source said Clinton doesn't believe a commission is necessary because the problems Social Security will face in the next 20 to 30 years are well known.

Clinton officials also suggest that even if a commission were appointed, in the end compromises would be worked out in talks between Clinton and congressional leaders, according to the Washington Post. That scenario, officials told the Post, leads some aides to suggest that reform talks should just begin at that stage.

The push for legislation

According to the Post, the White House is debating three ideas for getting Social Security legislation through Congress:

  • One is to model the talks on last year's balanced budget talks, where the White House and a small bipartisan group of top congressional leaders work in secret then submit their work for a vote.

  • Another is to create a large bipartisan "super committee" in Congress, and let the lawmakers draft legislation.

  • The third idea is for Clinton to call a special session of Congress, most likely after the midterm elections in November but before the new Congress would take office in 1999. Such an unusual event would create overwhelming pressure on the lawmakers to act, the Post said. Aides also believe it is imperative to deal with the issue before the 2000 presidential election year, if any serious work is to get done.

Clinton has repeatedly pledged to assure the long-term stability of Social Security by the time he leaves office. But aides reportedly agree he has done little to demonstrate his commitment to the issue.

That may be the motivation behind presenting the challenge to Congress in his publicly televised State of the Union address.

Some Clinton aides believe his address should include his own ideas for reform to show the nation, and the lawmakers, that he is serious, the Post reported.

One aide told the Post that outside groups are pushing Clinton to endorse lifting the eligibility age for Social Security. Citizens are currently eligible for the benefits at age 65, but it is to rise gradually to 67 by 2027.

It also has been suggested by U.S. Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, (D-Mass.), that all income be subject to the Social Security tax. Currently, the tax is imposed on the first $68,000 of a person's income.

Aides also tell CNN the president's budget proposal will include a major package of tax incentives designed to encourage small businesses to offer retirement savings programs to their employees.

Correspondent John King contributed to this report.

In Other News

Weekend Jan. 3 & 4, 1998

Clinton To Push For Social Security Fix
Ferraro To Enter N.Y. Senate Race Monday
Clinton's Tropical Respite Gives Way To Work
White House Delights In Rehnquist's Rebuke Of GOP
Clinton Wants $48 Million Increase in Peace Corps Funding
Family, Friends Grieve At Michael Kennedy's Funeral





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