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Social Security Issues

Archives: 1995 - 2001

Pension Issues for Widows & Widowers
This fact sheet from the Social Security Handbook explains all a widow or a widowe
r has to know about pensions issues: what to do for a remarriage, death before retirement….

For Too Many, Social Security Is Main Retirement Plan 
(December 20, 2001)

It is important to realize that nothing prevents people from saving more than is held in their Social Security contributions. Individual Retirement Accounts contribute a lot to private savings. Still a large number of people do not seem to be saving up for their retirement as much as they could be, making them particularly dependent on their social security benefits.

Senate Panel To Hear Call For Reform In Wake Of Enron 
(December 18,2001)

Now more then ever, controls against conflicts of interest in capital markets need to be reinforced to keep the system from failing. The American Baby Boomers depend on their investments and their pension plans to increase Social Security and fund their retirement.

New York Overtime Pay Could Spur Retirement (December 17, 2001)
Due to the September 11th attacks, New York City police and fire departments are planning to pay their best officers who have been working overtime in cash, instead of giving them time off. This could lead to a higher percentage of police retirements, since the police pensions are figured on the last 12 months pay level.

A Finale in Three-Part Harmony (December 12, 2001)
The main conclusion to the work of President Bush’s Social Security commission was nowhere and everywhere in the final report the panel has accepted today. The Government would have to cut benefits and/or come up with tax money to put into a “privatized” system. President Bush seems to be certain that this issue is a success since younger voters are more willing to invest in Wall Street’s ups and downs. President Bill Clinton tried much the same thing, but there is no clue President Bush will have any better success.

Bush Panel Details Recommendations For Overhaul of Social Security System (December 11, 2001)
President Bush’s Commission on Social security backed recommendations that would allow younger workers to invest some of their Social Security money on the stock market. Benefits would likely have to be cut, Commissioners acknowledged:… We’re going to face a lot criticism…”

Report Targets Social Security Reform (December 10, 2001)
Social security should try to boost the economy, not only the future funding. The White House is discussing proposals to allow younger workers to invest most of their social security payroll taxes in the stock market, but benefits come to a price. Many Republicans don’t want to discuss privatization now: there is a recession, a war and a stock market that has sunk very low.

The Fiction of Pension Accounting (December 7, 2001)
This article explains how some companies are securing profits for next year by buying stocks this year, profits earned by pension fund investment. But is this really the case? Can companies truly trust profits on pension investment, as they could in the beginning of the year? With interest rate as low as they are now, it is difficult to believe companies will make their intended returns.

Bush Panel Outlines 3 Plans for Social Security Overhaul 
(November 29, 2001)

Three options President Bush put forth to allow people to invest in their individual accounts, therefore advancing his version of a privatization plan. One option would be for workers who earn up to $80,400 to invest up to 2 percentage points of 6.2 percent payroll tax. Second would be to invest four percentage of payroll tax, with a maximum of $ 1.000 a year. As last, the third plan would work much like the 401(K) program, increasing benefits for low-income workers and widows. GAA recommends readers study “ 10 myths” about privatization.

GOP Seeks Social Security Tax Break (November 28, 2001)
Congressional Leaders agreed on giving a one month break to workers from paying social security taxes. Leaders are determined to find a way to boost the economy by offering a social security tax holiday. This controversial idea would unlock the social security tax for convenient gimmickery.If a stimulus is required it could come out of tax revenues. GAA notes that corporations have had a decade of record profits. Where is their commitment to pay for 
“ risk”?

Creating a Nest Egg (November 26, 2001)
This article published by The Wall Street Journal, explains how this year’s big tax-law changes includes a mass of provisions intended to give late starters Americans the courage to save up for their golden years, while also benefiting individuals of all ages.

The future of Social Security (November,1, 2001)
Social security reforms are on the hold due to September 11th.Specially since billions have been spent on paying for airliners, New York City’s cost and bio-terrorism. Social security reform is no longer on top of the list.

401 (k) Accounts Are Losing Money for the First Time (July 9, 2001)
Disappointing news for 401(k) holders. According to the New York Times, this retirement plan is losing valuable money. Last year alone, the average account lost approximately five thousand dollars. Some are left wondering if they invested wisely or if the stock market is declining. 

Tax Bite Leaves Seniors Growling (July 3, 2001)
Many seniors citizens feel disenfranchised with regards to their social security benefits. As highlighted by this Chicago Tribune article, middle-income seniors pay much higher tax rates in comparison with millionaires. This reality is very unfortunate and unfair and must be reassessed as more people grow dissatisfied with the system.

O'Neill Faults 'No Assets' Social Security (June 19, 2001)
This article, taken from The Washington Post, describes the Treasury Secretary’s position on Social Security reform. He feels privatizing the system means “real money in a real account,” but a stock is by definition a risky investment. He urges the need to adhere to his solution because an action must be taken now. However, even executives fear the impact of such a reform, especially on capital markets.

Social Security Rally at World Trade Center (June 18, 2001)
Here is the fiery speech protesting Social Security privatization that A.F.L.-C.I.O. Secretary-Treasurer Richard L. Trumka gave on June 18, 2001, at the World Trade Center in New York to a rally of unionists.

Two Sides Rally to Shape Social Security Discussion (June 18, 2001)
This article, taken from The New York Times, explains the stakes in the explosive Social Security discussion. Especially Treasury Secretary’s coming to Wall Street figures to mount an advertising campaign to raise funds for Bush’s plan, which consists of adding private investment accounts to Social Security. The battle has already begun aggressively on both sides due to the tremendous amount of money investment firms can charge for fees, whether the market goes up or down.

Income Equality Nosedives: The Rich vs. Everyone Else (June 18, 2001)
According to recent studies, the income gap between high- and low-income families has widened despite American strong economic growth.

Health Insurance Agency Gets New Name, Structure (June 15, 2001)
This article, published in The Washington Post, announces that the former Health Care Financing Administration is now called the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, a new name to symbolize “a new culture of responsiveness”. This prefigures the reorganization of this service in three divisions:
-the Center for Beneficiary Choices, which will cover Medicare patients who belong to private health plans, a sector Bush administration wants to expand,
-the Center for Medicare Management, which is related to the traditional “fee-for-service” program,
-the Center for Medicaid and State Operations, for Medicaid and the State Children’s Health Insurance Program.

Bush's Commission on Social Security May Propose (June 12, 2001)
In this article, published in The New York Times, members of Social Security commission are giving some directions, how their work will be organized. If they think the current system is in a long term unsustainable, the steps advised by the commission to reform the system, may be found politically explosive and unpopular, like raising the retirement age or reducing cost of living adjustments. Moreover, some people are wondering how the possible creation of personal investment accounts to Social Security will be financially supported by the government.

Lawsuit Cites Contradictions in a Rare Retirement Benefit (June 12, 2001)
This article, taken from The New York Times, reveals a paradox about the Variable Supplement Funds, which provide some categories of NY City retirees with annual lump sum payments in addition to their regular pension checks. A new lawsuit challenges this system, pointing out that, while those funds are defined as “nonpension benefits” in their state statutes, they function like part of the pension system for federal taxes purposes.

News Conference on Bush Social Security Privatization Commission 
(June 11, 2001)

In this statement, found on the web site of AFL-CIO, Linda Chavez-Thompson points out the fact that Social Security system is in danger because of Bush’s privatization plan. The question remains: where will the money to support financially this reform come from?

U.S. Social Security Panel to Hold First Meeting (June 11, 2001)
According to this article, taken from The New York Times, U.S. Social Security panel is working on the reform of the retirement system, which Government expects to enact next year. Bush directives towards partial privatization is going to meet resistance from Democrats, who now control the Senate, and also labor groups.

Tax Law Smiles on Retirement Plans (June 10, 2001)
In this article, published in The Washington Post, changes brought by the new tax law are described. Some are optional for the company, and others are mandatory. But, before adopting a new plan, things must be analyzed by employers because of their complexity and their short duration.

401 (k) Boost Considered by Officials (June 8, 2001)
Carroll County enhances their 401K-retirement plan and expects to see major changes in the workforce. As this Baltimore Sun article states, the county’s target is to acquire new employers, retain current workers, and have workers invest for their retirement early.

A Peek at What Federal Long-Term Care Coverage May Look Like 
(May 31, 2001)

This article, published in The Washington Post, explains the two reasons why people don’t buy massively federal long-term coverage. First, the cost is less advantageous the longer you wait to enroll. Second, the complexity of the system and the lack of information confuse people. Therefore, they don’t sign up for such coverage.

News Analysis: Pataki Winning Wider Health Care, a Step at a Time 
(May 31, 2001)

This article, taken from The New York Times, is about the new health care reform initiated in New York State and approved by the federal government. It creates the so-called Family Health Plus Plan, which is a kind of free health insurance in favor of the working poor. In fact, this new insurance program expresses the state’s willingness to reduce the ranks of the uninsured.

Economic Scene: Market Risks Could Hurt the Social Security Safety Net (May 31, 2001)
In this article, taken from The New York Times, the dangers of a structural reform of the Social Security program are clearly analyzed. Created in 1935 it has become the primary source of retirement income for a substantial part of the population, but it won’t be able to assume this role indefinitely with retiring baby-boomers who might succeed in expanding benefits. On another hand, the road of a partial privatization doesn’t seem so good either, because the stock market has its own dangerous risks.

Reforming Social Security Just Got a Lot Harder (May 30, 2001)
This article, published in the Business Week magazine, points out that the “victorious” tax cut makes only harder the work of the commission in charge of studying social security reform. Above all, the heart of the problem remains funding such a shift to private accounts. Experts envisage three options: either raising the retirement age, or borrowing the money, or using general-fund surpluses.

Going Online for Benefits Information (May 28, 2001)
This article, published in The Los Angeles Times, announces the creation by Social Security of a web site designed for women. The purpose is to inform and help especially older women, who can be daunted by the different sets of rules varying regarding each life circumstance.

A Penny Saved is Not Enough (May 23, 2001)
This article, taken from The Boston Globe, shows some results found in the AARP report “Beyond 50: A Report to the Nation on Economic Security”. Because Americans aren’t saving enough money and Social Security seems at risk, a lot of them will experience poverty and work after retirement. That’s why AARP has given up its “three-legged stool” for better financial advice called “the four pillars”: it consists in Social Security, pension and savings, health insurance, and earnings. Surprisingly, AARP does not make any demands to require employers to have portable pensions for all workers or to ask government to create national insurance for all. This article is, therefore, another reminder of the urgency to redefine the notion of retirement.

More Missing Pages (May 6, 2001)
An article revealing the deliberate (?) omissions made by the Republican party when trying to vote a budget plan. A special section on Social Security referring to the partial privatization of the system and the money due to people who past contributed to financing older people, a sum accounting for more than three trillion dollars, which is doubtfully far from being a priority on the budget plan... 

Bush to Unveil Panel on Social Security Change (May 2, 2001)
This article, taken from The Washington Post, reports that President Bush is to name yet another commission in order to privatize the American social security system. The White House has declared  that the members of this commission “share the President’s view on this subject”… it certainly means more personal investments and less public expenditures...

Older Women’s League
Read the section on the proposed plan to strengthen Social Security for Women. 
Interesting overview on issues facing mid-life and older women on this section of the web site:

Critique of national Public Radio Broadcast on Social Security (May 20, 1999)
Despite the will to give American citizens information about the Social security issues, the national Public Radio broadcasts contribute to the general misunderstanding. This article tries to clarify some points which are not understood by the NPR broadcasts. Morning Edition reports.

Social Security Reform (April 1999)
This excellent article discusses the benefits of the US Social Security system and how Americans can improve upon it by making some progressive proposals. The author shows the existing contradiction of a system that produces more than enough for everyone, but leaves some in severe need. z Magazine reports.

Liberals Wary of Clinton's Resolve on Social Security (March 10, 1999)
The American trade unions, joined by women’s groups, civil rights organizations and other groups, entered in a battle with the Clinton Administration, because they are afraid that a bipartisan compromise will reshape the retirement system by including private accounts. The New York Times reports.

Geezer Nation (February 14, 1999)
This article, published in The New York Times, discusses a book, called “Gray Dawn, How the Coming Age Wave Will Transform America and the World” and written by Peter G. Peterson. The author contends that the American economy would decline without deep cuts in Social Security and Medicare because of the increasing life expectancies and declining birthrates. 

The Real Threat to Social Security (February 8, 1999)
This article, extracted from The Nation, discusses the US debate of privatizing one-sixth of the Social Security system. More and more conservative and libertarian think tanks are agreed the system might be privatized. Even the Clinton Administration has proposed to use the budget surplus to bolster the system by investing part of the reserve funds in stocks and bonds. The author fears a real threat on Social Security.

Fed Chief Sees Hard Choices to Preserve Social Security (January 29, 1999)
Arguing that it could hurt the economy, the federal Reserve Chairman, Alan Greenspan, has criticized president Clinton's plan to let the government  invest some Social Security's money in the stock market. The influential Greenspan said that the money would be better used to reduce the national debt. The New York Times reports.

Social Security: The Basics, with a Tally Sheet (January 28, 1999)
President Clinton uses his State of the Union Message to discuss his proposal for changes in Social Security. The New York Times reports.

G.O.P. Has Few Options on Social Security (January 22, 1999)
This article, extracted from The New York Times, shows how Republicans criticize Clinton's Social Security plan.

Greenspan Sees Harm in Proposal  (January 21, 1999)
Republicans and Alan Greenspan said that President Clinton’s proposal to have the government invest a portion of Social Security reserves in the stock market would endanger the economy. The New York Times reports.

Wall Street Not Exactly Bullish On Plan to Aid Social Security 
(January 20, 1999)

US investors have mixed reactions to the president Clinton's proposals to invest some Social Security's reserve funds in the stock market. They believe the proposals could contribute to a healthier bull market. The New York Times reports.

Speech Moves Clinton Closer to G.O.P. on Social Security, but Fights Loom (January 20, 1999)
President Clinton has announced a plan to let the government invest the Social Security's reserve funds in the stock market, which moves him closer to the Republican position. Despite this, the Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan and Republican leaders criticize the plan. The New York Times reports.

A Look at the Social Security Plan (January 20, 1999)
President Clinton has proposed a plan using federal budget surpluses to bolster the Social Security system. The government would invest a quarter of the money in the stock market to try to increase its value. The New York Times reports.

Clinton Social Security Plan Runs Into Opposition (January 20, 1999)
After announcing an ambitious project to deal with long-term care needs of the elderly and to invest in the stock market the Social Security's reserve funds, President Clinton is attacked by Republicans because it implies tax increases. The New York Times reports.

Clinton Proposes Partial Funding of Long-Term Care for Elderly (January 4, 1999)
President Clinton has announced an ambitious project to deal with the long-term care needs of the elderly. The core of the initiative is a proposal to give a tax credit of $1,000 a year to people who need long-term care. This project would help 2 million persons; but it is controversial because it is linked to tax increases. The New York Times reports.

Ideology Aside, Tough Choices on Social Security (December 6, 1998)
The US debate on how to ameliorate the Social Security pits those who would keep the system intact and those who would rebuild it to allow individual investment in the financial markets. The Clinton Administration has to make the difficult economic choices between both sides. The New York Times reports.

Squaring Off, At Last, on Social Security (November 29, 1998)
President Clinton and Congressional leaders will examine the options concerning the Social Security system. In a two-day White House Conference, the main issue will be to examine how the system could be changed for the better. The New York Times reports.

Social Security Is Issue, But Solution Is Elusive (November 10, 1998)
A satisfactory proposal to insure that Social Security can handle the impending retirement of the vast baby boom generation will not be easy to find because there is no political consensus. The New York Times reports.

Clinton and Lott Wrangle Over Social Security (October 27, 1998)
The debate of privatizing Social Security pensions intensifies as the focus on reform issues increases. President Clinton, at a White House forum on elderly women and Social Security, said Republicans in Congress wanted to use the Federal budget surplus to finance tax cuts, rather than to insure the solvency of the Social Security system. The New York Times reports.

Adviser Gets 4 Years for Looting Company Retirement Fund (October 9, 1998)
A financial adviser was sentenced to four years imprisonment after stealing at least $1.5 million from a company pension fund.

Social Security Plan Envisions U.S. as Biggest Investor (July 27, 1998)
This article from  The New York Times shows that liberal Democrats, labor unions and other groups who are rallying around proposals under which the Federal Government would invest some of the retirement system's reserves in stocks and bonds.

Clinton Holding Social Security "Town Hall" (July 27, 1998)
In his statement, President Clinton is seriously considering relying on the financial markets to help solve Social Security's long-term problems.

Clinton May use Wall Street To Ease Social Security Ills (July 27, 1998)
President  Clinton is seriously considering relying on the financial markets to help Social Security "reform".

Why Stocks And Social Security Don't Mix (July 19, 1998)
This article, taken from The New York Times, shows the point of view of Herbert Barchoff, a former member of the President's Council of Economic Advisers during the Truman Administration, concerning Social Security "reform". The author believes that the proposals to privatize Social Security and allow individuals to invest their retirement funds in stocks are not economically compatible with the goals of social protection.

Politics Laces Discussion at Social Security Forum (July 2, 1998)
This article from The New York Times describes a roundtable discussion with Vice President Al Gore about privatization of Social Security.

For Women, Troubling Trends in Social Security (June 19, 1998)
A review of a study by the Institute for Women's Policy Research argues that proposed reforms in the Social Security system could have a much more adverse effect on elderly women than on men. The Washington Post reports.

Retirement Changes May Harm Women. More Need Benefits of Social Security (May 24, 1998)
Over the debate of privatizing Social Security it is unfortunately ignored that privatization could put older women in a more difficult situation financially. The Boston Globe reports.

Examining the Minority Gap in Social Security and Pensions (March-April 1998)
This article from the journal Aging Today discusses the differences and preferences in pension coverage between whites and minorities.

President Presses Debate on Change in Social Security (April 8, 1998)
This article from The New York Times describes a roundtable discussion with President Clinton about reform of the Social Security system. The article includes a partial transcript of the discussion.

Privatizing Social Security Gains Backers in Congress (April 6, 1998)
A New York Times article about differing perceptions of turning Social Security into an investment program.

Partial Privatization of Social Security Looks Very Possible (April 9, 1998)
This article, extracted from The New York Times, shows an analysis of the deep divisions in public opinion that make a consensus on privatization difficult to reach.

White House Resists G.O.P. On Way to Save Social Security (April 2, 1998)
This article from The New York Times describes the disagreement between the White House and Republican leaders on how to reach consensus on a solution to Social Security's looming financial problems.

10 Myths About Social Security (April 1998)
The Twentieth Century Fund refutes ten common myths about Social Security.

Saving Social Security (April 1998)
For the People, a column by U.S. Senator Moseley-Braun explaining why Social Security must be preserved.

The End of Social Security As We Know It (November/December 1997)
This article, extracted from Mother Jones, argues that Social Security maybe dismantled in 1997 and beyond. 

Three New Papers On "Privatizing" Social Security, One Conclusion: Bad Idea (October 14, 1997)
The first of three papers discussing the inadvisability of ending pay-as-you-go Social Security.

If Economic Growth Falls to 1.4%, What Happens to the Stock Market? (October 14, 1997)
The second of three papers discussing the inadvisability of ending pay-as-you-go Social Security..

The Economics of Pay-as-you-go Social Security, and the Economic Cost of Ending It (October 14, 1997)
The third of three papers discussing the inadvisability of ending pay-as-you-go Social Security 

The Easy Solution to the Social Security Crisis (June 22, 1997)
This article from The New York Times Magazine article takes a look at pro-natalist and pro-immigrant policies as solutions to the Social Security problem.

The Chile Con: Privatizing Social Security in South America (July-August 1997)
This article, extracted from The American Prospect, explains why the Chilean Social Security model is not for the United States.

AFL-CIO and the Fate of Social Security (February 1997)
This article analyzes the position of the major US trade union federation on the question of public pension reform.

Social Insecurity: The Plan to Make the System Private (January 27, 1997)
This excellent article from The Nation describes the machinations by Wall Street to privatize the world's largest public retirement system -- the US "Social Security" system -- and to make a ton of money in the process. 

Social Security: Adjustment Yes, Privatization No (January 26, 1997)
This short but effective article, originally written for The Philadelphia Inquirer, makes a strong case against privatization.

The Illusory Crisis (January 6, 1997)
This editorial, extracted from Times magazine, argues that the Social Security "crisis" is not real.

For Mutual Funds, New Political Muscle (September 6, 1996)
This article from The New York Times shows the power of the mutual fund companies and how they are lobbying for legislation to privatize Social Security.

The Myths of Social Security Crisis: Behind the Privatization Push (July 21, 1996)
An op-ed from The Washington Post by a Brookings Institute Senior Fellow that uncovers some of the myths about Social Security.

The Biggest Deal: Lobbying to Make Social Security Private (May-June 1996)
An outstanding article on the campaigns to privatize Social Security. The American Prospect reports.

What Crisis? (May 1996)
Op-Ed piece from The New York Times on Social Security.

Privatizing Social Security, The Wall Street Fix (April 29, 1996)
This article details why Social Security is essential and why privatization is not.

The Myth of Social Security's Imminent Collapse (July-August 1995)
This article from Left Business Observer explains why Social Security is not on the verge of collapse as many conservatives claim.