New senator says Bush plan would mean deep cuts for Colorado retirees
DENVER – U.S. Sen. Ken Salazar says Colorado retirees would face deep cuts in their Social Security payments if President Bush’s proposal for allowing some workers to divert their payments to private accounts is passed.”I think for us to abandon the ultimate premise of taking care of old people and treating them with dignity is the wrong way to go,” the newly elected Democrat said in a telephone interview Sunday.Salazar said creating private accounts would add an estimated $2 trillion to the already huge federal deficit in the first 10 years.Bush says the system is in trouble and needs changes. He has pledged to lead a battle in Congress and to travel across the country to persuade Americans to support changes. “I fully understand the power of those who want to derail a Social Security agenda by, you know, scaring people,” Bush said at a news conference last week.Salazar said 650,000 Coloradans depend on Social Security and receive an average benefit of $10,000 a year, but under the Bush plan it would be cut to $7,700 a year.”I am very worried that vulnerable Colorado Social Security benefit recipients … will be injured significantly by the benefit cuts the President may propose,” Salazar said.He said Social Security isn’t in danger now, and there is plenty of time to make sure it remains sound without taking away its basic funding by allowing private accounts. He said making such a change would put the whole system in danger much sooner than anticipated.”We have a long-term challenge in Social Security. But Social Security is not in crisis and we should not usher in solutions that will hurt benefits,” said Salazar.The program’s trustees say Social Security will begin paying out more in benefits than it collects in 2018. By 2042, the system will collect only enough to pay about three-quarters of promised benefits, according to the program’s trustees.Salazar said bipartisan Social Security reforms have been enacted when needed in the past. “We can fashion the same sort of bipartisan solution again, but we can’t do it in an atmosphere of exaggerated crisis,” he said.
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