Power Breakfast: Social Insecurity | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio

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Power Breakfast: Social Insecurity

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A bipartisan group of senators who call themselves the Gang of Six will unveil their proposals to reform Social Security when they get back to Washington after April recess.

Rep. Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.) is not in the Gang of Six -- but she has some ideas.

"I believe we should raise the retirement age for people under the age of 50," she says. "That bill alone would solve somewhere between one-third and half of the problem with solvency of Social Security."

Lummis is among those saying that the system no longer reflects demographic reality in a post-baby boom world. She's introduced a bill that would phase in further increases beyond the current retirement age of 67. In a nutshell: today's four-year-old children would have to work until age 70 to receive their maximum social security benefits.

Her state's counterparts in the Senate agree. "The reality is, there's more money going out each year than is coming in," says Sen. John Barasso (R-Wyo.)

Adds Wyoming Sen. Mike Enzi (R): "Anybody who is saying that Social Security is in good shape is making a political statement that they don't want to handle it during their term in office."

He worries about the government 'borrowing' from the Social Security surplus to pay for other things. "It's one of those amazing trusts funds that the United States has that has no money in it, it has IOU's in it and that should worry everybody," says Enzi.

Brookings Institution's Henry Aaron says historically, "[Social Security] has collected a lot more money in revenues than it's paid out."

Aaron says now that the baby boomers are beginning to collect, the program is breaking even. Nonetheless, he agrees that changes to the system will be needed. More on that - and another set of and another set of ideas about reform - in tomorrow's second installment of "Social Insecurity."

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