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Social Security official: Promises can't be met
The Uunion Leader ^ | 12/26/05 | Shawne K. Wickham

Posted on 12/26/2005 11:38:30 AM PST by qam1

MANCHESTER — "We have overpromised."

That's how America got into the fix that will see the Social Security trust fund run out in 36 years unless something is done, according to James B. Lockhart III, deputy commissioner of the Social Security Administration.

On a recent visit to the Manchester SSA office, Lockhart sat down with the Sunday News to discuss the coming Social Security shortfall. These days, he spends a lot of his time on the road, sounding the alarm and pushing the administration's reform ideas.

He could be just the man for the job.

Earlier jobs During the first President Bush's administration, from 1989 until 1993, Lockhart was executive director of the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp., the federal agency that insures the nation's private pension plans.

"They used to call me Chicken Little back then," he said. In those days, Lockhart was sounding the alarm about an underfunding crisis in private pension plans.

And just as in the story, it turned out Chicken Little was right.

Last May, a federal bankruptcy judge allowed United Airlines to turn over its employees' pension plans — underfunded to the tune of $9.8 billion — to the PBGC. It was the largest corporate pension default in U.S. history.

Not all convinced But many analysts believe it won't be the last.

"I think people overpromised," Lockhart said in an interview at the SSA office. "If you look at the PBGC world, what happened was that companies . . . and their unions bargained for more than the company could afford, and the unions took it because they knew there was PBGC insurance."

Back then, Lockhart put out a list of the top 50 underfunded companies to make his point.

Now he is trying to get the public to pay attention to a similar underfunding problem with the Social Security system.

"There are some people that argue maybe Social Security has promised too much, just like the defined benefit world, and we can't afford that promise. And we can't."

Numbers growing "The number of retirees is going to double in the next 30 years as the Baby Boomers retire. You've got these pressures coming very quickly, and we need to do something.

"With Social Security, we still have an opportunity, if we take action in the next few years, to create something that will be good for the next generation," Lockhart said.

But how can the administration ask the American public to make sacrifices — work longer, accept lower benefits or pay higher taxes — when Congress essentially has raided the Social Security trust fund for years to pay for other government programs?

"It is a tough sell," Lockhart acknowledged.

Problems continue

And it may not get any easier next year, with mid-term elections coming up, he said.

Lockhart said proposed solutions to the funding problem fit into three categories: Increasing taxes to pay for benefits — that could include raising or eliminating the $90,000 ceiling on Social Security earnings; reducing benefits, such as reducing payments or increasing the retirement age; and private investment, shifting some of the responsibility for saving from the government to individuals.

Lockhart said President Bush's proposal is to allow individuals to invest up to 4 percent of Social Security taxes (which amount to 12.4 percent of earnings) up to $1,000 a year, in personal investment accounts. There are also at least a dozen proposals making their way through Congress.

Tough call Lockhart said Bush's plan favors a "very simplified" system, modeled on the Federal Thrift Savings Plan offered to senators and congressmen, to include just a few choices of bond funds or stocks in which individuals could invest. That program recently added a so-called "life cycle" fund that automatically reduces the investment risks the closer folks get to retirement age.

One problem is that Americans just do not save enough for their own retirement, Lockhart said. And he said, "Maybe part of the reason is people expect too much of Social Security."

About one-third of retirees today get nearly all their income from Social Security, he said. Part of his agency's challenge is getting out the message that future retirees can no longer expect to rely solely on Social Security to live comfortably.

Cuts are needed SSA projections show benefits would have to be cut drastically — by 26 percent beginning in 2041 and by 32 percent by 2080 — unless something changes, Lockhart said. "The worst case scenario is we do nothing about Social Security, and our kids' benefits are cut 32 percent after paying in a lifetime."

Actually, that "cut" looks more like today's level of benefits. According to SSA projections, a monthly benefit today of $972 is scheduled to increase to $1,400 for someone born in 1983 and retiring in 2045. But the system will only be able to afford to pay out $1,037 in 2045, and that's where talk of a projected 26 percent "cut" comes from.

So why not just begin now, lowering expectations of the younger generations about what their future benefits will be, instead of trying to fully fund an increasing level of benefits?

Lockhart contends there will always need to be a safety net for lower-income workers who cannot afford private investments. And for higher-income people, he said, "Their benefits will be slowed down dramatically, but they will have the opportunity for personal retirement accounts."

Down the road So looking ahead 50 years, what's the best-case scenario?

"Social Security is still there as a safety net for the American people. There is that defined benefit portion of Society Security that really protects the lower income, and above that, there is an account related to Social Security that's some form of personal account that people can control, own, it's inheritable — and it's not being borrowed by the government."

In the meantime, there is an urgent need for bipartisan compromise on this all-important challenge, the deputy commissioner contends. "There really is room for people to work together."

But that will mean taking some of the politics out of it. "And that's what I hope will happen," he said. "Lower the rhetoric and hopefully get some solutions."


TOPICS: Extended News; Government
KEYWORDS: genx; greedygeezers; socialsecurity; ssa
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1 posted on 12/26/2005 11:38:32 AM PST by qam1
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To: qam1; ItsOurTimeNow; PresbyRev; tortoise; Fraulein; StoneColdGOP; Clemenza; malakhi; m18436572; ...
Xer Ping

Ping list for the discussion of the politics and social (and sometimes nostalgic) aspects that directly effects Generation Reagan / Generation-X (Those born from 1965-1981) including all the spending previous generations (i.e. The Baby Boomers) are doing that Gen-X and Y will end up paying for.

Freep mail me to be added or dropped. See my home page for details and previous articles.  

2 posted on 12/26/2005 11:39:41 AM PST by qam1 (There's been a huge party. All plates and the bottles are empty, all that's left is the bill to pay)
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To: qam1
But the Democrat Senators tell us there is nothing wrong with Social Security!!!!! Are you telling us Dingy Harry and his Insane Clown Posse LIED to the American People????
3 posted on 12/26/2005 11:39:44 AM PST by MNJohnnie (We do not create terrorism by fighting the terrorists. We invite terrorism by ignoring them.--GWBush)
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To: qam1
We have overpromised

Master of the obvious.

4 posted on 12/26/2005 11:42:15 AM PST by neodad (Rule Number 1: Be Armed)
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To: qam1

10-15 years from now, people will look back to 2005 and see what President Bush was talking about in reference to SS and wonder how both the demonRATs and weak kneed pubbies didn't respond with a positive plan. Shame on the RATs and the pubbies have mouse nuts.


5 posted on 12/26/2005 11:42:35 AM PST by USS Alaska (Nuke the terrorist savages - In Honor of Standing Wolf)
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To: qam1

Real quick question.........If you are disabled, and on s.s., why does the government pay for your kids to go to college?


6 posted on 12/26/2005 11:48:09 AM PST by joe fonebone (Thin skinned people make me sick!!!)
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To: qam1

My parents told me 30 years ago not to expect SS to be there when I retired. Started an IRA at the age of 16 and still going strong. A shame that more people do not understand that the future is up to them.


7 posted on 12/26/2005 11:49:42 AM PST by beltfed308 (Cloth or link. Happiness is a perfect trunnion.)
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To: qam1

Sorry, I don't see the problem.

All the feds have to do is raise pay roll taxes.



\sarc


8 posted on 12/26/2005 11:50:02 AM PST by Casekirchen (More Americans died in New Orleans than in Iraq, where are the calls to get US out of the swamp?)
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To: USS Alaska

..10-15 years from now, people will look back to 2005 and see what President Bush was talking about in reference to SS and wonder how both the demonRATs and weak kneed pubbies didn't respond...
-----
Just another massive failure of Washington to properly manage the country and work FOR THE PEOPLE -- just add it to the list of massive spending and taxation, runaway immigration and no border security, the realities of ABLE DANGER, the vile criminality and damage of the Clinton regime, 9/11, etc, etc, etc.

Happy New Year Washington!!!


9 posted on 12/26/2005 11:51:58 AM PST by EagleUSA
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To: qam1

I'm really happy with the superannuation system we have in Australia. I like the idea that by the time I retire, I will have enough money saved/invested not to have to rely on the government.

Plus the $800 billion + (and growing) in savings and investments does the economy good too.


10 posted on 12/26/2005 11:54:50 AM PST by Dundee (They gave up all their tomorrows for our today’s.)
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To: USS Alaska; maica
10-15 years from now, people will look back to 2005 and see what President Bush was talking about in reference to SS

But Juan Williams on Fox Sunday News just yesterday said that one of the big mistakes of 2005 was President Bush's wasting his time on SS reform. /sarcasm

11 posted on 12/26/2005 11:58:08 AM PST by Freee-dame
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To: qam1
"They used to call me Chicken Little back then," he said. In those days, Lockhart was sounding the alarm about an underfunding crisis in private pension plans.

Underfunding my arse!

It's the diverting of funds to other political endeavors NOT underfunding!

12 posted on 12/26/2005 11:58:51 AM PST by EGPWS
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To: Dundee
I will have enough money saved/invested not to have to rely on the government.

Keep repeating as necessary.....

13 posted on 12/26/2005 12:01:01 PM PST by EGPWS
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To: EagleUSA
Just another massive failure of Washington to properly manage the country and work FOR THE PEOPLE --

They should have stuck to just "regulating" the retirement of those who pay for and depend upon their own hard earned efforts for a content filled retirement instead of taking control of it and using those funds as they deem necessary as politicians.

14 posted on 12/26/2005 12:06:30 PM PST by EGPWS
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To: MNJohnnie

Bush caved way too early on this...


15 posted on 12/26/2005 12:07:36 PM PST by ErnBatavia (I post in slang..live with it or ignore it - reader's choice.)
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To: Freee-dame

"But Juan Williams on Fox Sunday News just yesterday said that one of the big mistakes of 2005 was President Bush's wasting his time on SS reform. /sarcasm"

10-15 years from now people will look back and think that juan williams played shortstop for the Washington {what was the name of the baseball team that started in 2005 through 2009?}.

Williams is such a left wing nut, that if the fax at the dnc ever breaks, he won't have a thought in his empty head.


16 posted on 12/26/2005 12:08:21 PM PST by USS Alaska (Nuke the terrorist savages - In Honor of Standing Wolf)
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To: ErnBatavia
Bush caved way too early on this...

Bush didn't cave. How about holding the Weak Kneed Squishy 7 Senate RINOS and the Democrat Senators accountable for THEIR actions for a change? I know this comes as a BIG surprise to many Freepers but we are a Constitutional Republic, NOT a Presidential Dictatorship.

17 posted on 12/26/2005 12:10:17 PM PST by MNJohnnie (We do not create terrorism by fighting the terrorists. We invite terrorism by ignoring them.--GWBush)
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To: qam1
May as well face it, qam1. We Gen-Xers are hosed.


18 posted on 12/26/2005 12:13:09 PM PST by rdb3 (This is a ch__ch. What's missing?)
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To: EGPWS

Exactly. They've used the SS as a slush fund for years. The chickens are coming home to roost.....and they're trying to blame it on the American people who contribute... versus the ones who utilize it most... and don't.


19 posted on 12/26/2005 12:13:32 PM PST by LaineyDee (Don't mess with Texas wimmen!)
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To: EGPWS

"I will have enough money saved/invested not to have to rely on the government."

I DO have enough money saved/invested not to have to rely on the government, but I have children and grandchildren and they deserve some return on the money that is being taken from them. However, while not required, my SS is a nice offset for my golfing habit.


20 posted on 12/26/2005 12:14:26 PM PST by USS Alaska (Nuke the terrorist savages - In Honor of Standing Wolf)
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To: joe fonebone

Because the majority of them vote D-rat.


21 posted on 12/26/2005 12:15:03 PM PST by PeteB570 (Guns, what real men want for Christmas)
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To: MNJohnnie

"That's how America got into the fix that will see the Social Security trust fund run out in 36 years unless something is done, according to James B. Lockhart III, deputy commissioner of the Social Security Administration."

This is easy. Tell every federal, state and local employee that they now have to contribute into the system. When they start to fight it, bring up personal accounts.

The other option is to give everyone exactly what state and federal employees have.

Either way...


22 posted on 12/26/2005 12:15:07 PM PST by EQAndyBuzz (Liberal Talking Point - Bush = Hitler ... Republican Talking Point - Let the Liberals Talk)
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To: Dundee

This concept is way beyond the brilliant minds we have in Washington.

After years of maxing out my payments (TAX) to social security the day will come when the politicians will say that because I have too much we're going to reduce your social security. When they do that there will be many, many folks that will declare hunting season on past and present politicians. They better pray they have a very tight gun control laws in effect before this day comes.


23 posted on 12/26/2005 12:16:37 PM PST by Recon Dad (Proud Marine Dad)
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To: USS Alaska

My feeling and intentions exactly.


24 posted on 12/26/2005 12:18:43 PM PST by Recon Dad (Proud Marine Dad)
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To: ErnBatavia; qam1
Bush caved way too early on this...

I have to disagree with you there. He was right in bringing it out to be discussed. But with the AARP crowd (who have a controlling interest with the Democrats) and the weak-kneed Pubbies, it had no chance of passing.

Like I told qam1, we Gen-Xers are hosed. And President Bush can't be blamed.


25 posted on 12/26/2005 12:19:27 PM PST by rdb3 (This is a ch__ch. What's missing?)
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To: USS Alaska

I had a look at the American Social Security system a while back and I've got to admit I was shocked at the scale of the problem/debt you guys are looking at.


26 posted on 12/26/2005 12:21:34 PM PST by Dundee (They gave up all their tomorrows for our today’s.)
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To: qam1


...but we can still afford to nationalize healthcare right?


27 posted on 12/26/2005 12:23:33 PM PST by Tzimisce
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To: EQAndyBuzz

"Tell every federal, state and local employee that they now have to contribute into the system."

Federal employees hired after 1983 do contribute to Social Security just like - in the same percentage amount as - everybody else. They are on a different retirement system than their predecessors.


28 posted on 12/26/2005 12:24:15 PM PST by Felis_irritable
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To: rdb3; qam1
We Gen-Xers are hosed.

Darn straight. Plan your exit strategies.

I'm trying to save $1.5M-$2M by age 45-50 then bolt for Central America.

29 posted on 12/26/2005 12:24:24 PM PST by xrp
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To: qam1
Social Security official: Promises can't be met

Duh!

30 posted on 12/26/2005 12:26:08 PM PST by Jim Noble (Non, je ne regrette rien)
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To: joe fonebone
A government that robs Peter to pay Paul can always depend upon the support of Paul.

-- George Bernard Shaw

31 posted on 12/26/2005 12:26:24 PM PST by Huntress (Possession really is nine tenths of the law.)
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To: qam1

57,just hit 1/2 mil in 401 k
own home and car and 27 acres in CT. have med/dent from prior employeer
No spouse or dependents
Thinking of calling it quits and drawing down
on the 401 k.Planning on SS@ 62
opinions


32 posted on 12/26/2005 12:28:44 PM PST by CGASMIA68
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To: MNJohnnie

Insane Clown Posse..haha, I just got the funniest image in my head...

By the way, I too, am shocked and deeply saddened that the Ponzi Scheme, I mean social security isn't working.


33 posted on 12/26/2005 12:31:44 PM PST by WV Mountain Mama (Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel Shall come to thee, O Israel. Merry Christmas!)
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To: xrp
I'm trying to save $1.5M-$2M by age 45-50...

I'm at seven figures at age 34. Maybe I'll save another meal-ticket and join you. Those days ahead are going to be indescribable.


34 posted on 12/26/2005 12:32:28 PM PST by rdb3 (This is a ch__ch. What's missing?)
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To: rdb3
I'm at seven figures at age 34.

Whoa that rules.

35 posted on 12/26/2005 12:39:00 PM PST by xrp
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To: Dundee

Keep in mind there also is a 11 TRILLION dollar annual economy underlying this. The number is huge and will be a problem but it also needs to be kept in context of size of the population and economy being serviced.


36 posted on 12/26/2005 12:40:20 PM PST by MNJohnnie (We do not create terrorism by fighting the terrorists. We invite terrorism by ignoring them.--GWBush)
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To: qam1

Why do they keep talking about a Social security Trust fund. There is no such animal.


37 posted on 12/26/2005 12:40:21 PM PST by sgtbono2002
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To: Dundee

"I had a look at the American Social Security system a while back and I've got to admit I was shocked at the scale of the problem/debt you guys are looking at."

Dundee,

If a private corporation were running the kind of scam that our federal government is calling a social security retirement plan, the corporate officers would be doing 25 to life at levenworth federal pen in maximum security. It's a ponzi scheme and anyone with even minimal financial skills knows it. Like so many other serious subjects, the politcos don't give a ship about the common good, only about their own re-election. President Bush is too good for this Country. If he were as small minded as his opposition, he would just resign and go back to Texas. I pray to God that he doesn't, but I wouldn't blame him if he did.


38 posted on 12/26/2005 12:45:35 PM PST by USS Alaska (Nuke the terrorist savages - In Honor of Standing Wolf)
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To: xrp
A ton of work, a major risk, major luck with talking to the right person, and one roll of the career dice that hit 6+5.


39 posted on 12/26/2005 12:47:05 PM PST by rdb3 (This is a ch__ch. What's missing?)
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To: LaineyDee
They've used the SS as a slush fund for years. The chickens are coming home to roost.....and they're trying to blame it on the American people who contribute...

The SS program if used for "personal retirement" only as it was meant to be used for instead of a government handout for the destitute while at the same time, being paralleled with a welfare program which was created to do the same, SS would be solvent today.

Instead we have multiple government organizations stacked on top of each other performing the same function only to be categorized differently as to maintain numerous bureaucracies who function is to accomplish the same thing.

Of course in the muddled mess of bureaucracy, this gives political opportunity to the access of funds.

Bottom line, funds are being funneled to Washington to give the financially opportunistic politicians a trough for the skimming of funds, available for their own personal political concerns.

And some have a disdain for the skimming of funds by Anan and the UN.....

40 posted on 12/26/2005 12:47:20 PM PST by EGPWS
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To: rdb3
And with major risk come major rewards. Congrats! :-)

I'll be there one day, hopefully before Congress can vote to confiscate it all.

41 posted on 12/26/2005 12:52:30 PM PST by xrp
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To: qam1
That's how America got into the fix that will see the Social Security trust fund run out in 36 years unless something is done, according to James B. Lockhart III, deputy commissioner of the Social Security Administration.

There is no money in the SS Trust Fund, just non-marketable T-Bills, which are really IOUs. SS is a pay as you go system. Beginning in 2008, the SS "surplus" will start declining and in 2017, we will start paying out more than we are taking in. In order to meet those obligations, we will need to borrow more money and/or cut spending or programs.

I am a little concerned that the Deputy Commissioner of SSA is still maintaining the charade of a SS Trust Fund.

42 posted on 12/26/2005 12:53:24 PM PST by kabar
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To: sgtbono2002
Why do they keep talking about a Social security Trust fund. There is no such animal.

I don't know how old you are however if you have spent more than a decade working or running a business, you would get (or have been) teary eyed looking at the ratio of input of SS funds compared to the available funds at retirement on a personal basis.

Just a little ditty to contemplate the next time a politician requests you to be complacent when paying your "fair share".

43 posted on 12/26/2005 12:55:51 PM PST by EGPWS
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To: Casekirchen

"All the feds have to do is raise pay roll taxes."

not a half-bad idea.....so long as you mean to tax the jobs that have been exported with a hefty import tax on services rendered overseas and imports of foreign merchamdise.


44 posted on 12/26/2005 12:57:24 PM PST by Vn_survivor_67-68
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To: xrp
And with major risk come major rewards.

That's what my Pop always said.


45 posted on 12/26/2005 12:57:56 PM PST by rdb3 (This is a ch__ch. What's missing?)
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To: kabar
Beginning in 2008, the SS "surplus" will start declining and in 2017,...

Lest we forget the increase in retirement age that has been bestowed upon us via SS also.

46 posted on 12/26/2005 12:58:45 PM PST by EGPWS
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To: Vn_survivor_67-68
The problem is that the number of workers to support each SS retiree is declining. In 1950, there were 16 workers paying Social Security taxes for every retired person receiving benefits. Today there are 3.3. By 2030, there will be only 2.

48 million Americans receive Social Security benefits, including 33 million retirees, 7 million survivors, and 8 million disabled workers.

By 2030, there will be 70 million Americans of retirement age--twice as many as today.

Social Security faces an unfunded liability of more than $12.8 trillion.

47 posted on 12/26/2005 1:03:28 PM PST by kabar
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To: t1b8zs

Keep working. You'll be bored to death. I'm 72 and still working full time. Don't plan on stopping until I can't go any more.


48 posted on 12/26/2005 1:04:38 PM PST by WVNan
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To: qam1
Talk of cuts is DOA. No politician who values his career will vote for them.

(Denny Crane: "I Don't Want To Socialize With A Pinko Liberal Democrat Commie. Say What You Like About Republicans. We Stick To Our Convictions. Even When We Know We're Dead Wrong.")

49 posted on 12/26/2005 1:06:42 PM PST by goldstategop (In Memory Of A Dearly Beloved Friend Who Lives On In My Heart Forever)
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To: Freee-dame
The public decided to pass it up. Hoewever, the President did it put on the agenda and I predict change will happen only when the pain of not changing is worse than the pain of changing at all. We're not at the point yet where people feel something has to be done.

(Denny Crane: "I Don't Want To Socialize With A Pinko Liberal Democrat Commie. Say What You Like About Republicans. We Stick To Our Convictions. Even When We Know We're Dead Wrong.")

50 posted on 12/26/2005 1:09:12 PM PST by goldstategop (In Memory Of A Dearly Beloved Friend Who Lives On In My Heart Forever)
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