Secretary of Health and Human Services Richard S. Schweiker met with Senate leaders yesterday to start working out a compromise on Social Security and said again that the administration opposes using general revenues to help bail out the system.
Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan (D-N.Y.), senior Democrat on the Senate Social Security subcommittee, said, "We start hearings in three weeks and we should have a bill on the floor in late July."
Senate leaders and senior members of several committees who attended the meeting said no agreements were reached on any substantive provisions. But it was agreed that Finance Committee Chairman Robert J. Dole (R-Kan.), ranking committee Democrat Russell B. Long (D-La.), Moynihan and Social Security subcommittee Chairman William L. Armstrong (R-Colo.) would constitute an informal committee to work on possible compromise proposals.
The president told Schweiker to seek a compromise with Congress after new benefit cuts the administration proposed, including especially cuts for persons retiring in the future before age 65, met with opposition from both parties.
Dole said that he, too, opposes general revenue financing and "I don't see much hope" the Senate would approve it.
Sen. Lawton Chiles (D-Fla.) said "it was pretty evident" the senators present "don't want to increase" the Social Security tax, either.
Among other possible moneysaving devices discussed at the meeting: raising the normal retirement age to 68 but only after a lengthy transition period ending 30 years from now, cutting back on the annual cost-of-living adjustment, for which the Senate has already voted on one occasion, and allowing the financially pinched old-age trust fund to borrow from the disability and Medicare funds to get over its temporary shortfall of money in the next few years.
Dole, in a masterpiece of understatement, said the only consensus at the meeting was, "We've got a real problem."