Clinton To Push For Social Security Fix
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
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
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
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
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
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.