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The President's New Plan

By: Lindsay Liepman
By: Lindsay Liepman

A lot of experts say the social security system that has supported aging Americans for over 70 years is heading toward bankruptcy, but the president has a plan that some say will work for everyone.

Snook resident John Hawkins worked for over 20 years as a machinist. After triple bypass surgery in the 70s he began to collect social security, and if he didn't have it today he would have to completely rely on someone else.

"I've got returned more than I paid in, but others haven't. With this new plan they would and if they died their families would also get the money," says Hawkins.

The plan that President Bush is promoting would allow workers to funnel money into a private savings account along with social security. Bush says it wouldn't effect benefits of those already on social security and would allow Americans to take control of their retirement.

"I was skeptical of it at first but the more I understand and learn about the proposal today, I think it's a good thing," says Hawkins.

Bush says social security is heading toward disaster. In the past, there were 16 workers for every one person on social security, now it's three to one. The decrease in workforce and increase in life expectancy is also changing the formula.

"The longer you wait, the more severe the pain's going to be to fulfill the promise for a younger generation of workers coming up. As a matter of fact, by the time today's workers who are in their mid-20s begin to retire, the system will be bankrupt," says President Bush.

"Not to change it now would be disastrous," says Hawkins.

Hawkins says as long as seniors still get their checks and the private accounts are on a voluntary basis, he says the plan may work.

Jason Furman of the center on budget and policy priorities says savings accounts will drain money from the program.

"That makes social security problems worse and it cuts benefits for families. It cuts benefits eventually up to 45 percent," says Furman.

But both sides of the issue are urging congress to act, so Americans can feel comfortable about life after 65.


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