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GOP Pledges 'Lock' on Social Security

Social Security
Associated Press
Sunday, May 23, 1999; Page A4

Republicans who control Congress are determined to end decades of raids on the Social Security trust fund by locking away the money under strict congressional control, the GOP said yesterday.

In the party's weekly radio address, Rep. James E. Rogan (R-Calif.) promised that Congress this week would pass the so-called Social Security Lock Box bill, which would guarantee that the trust fund be used only for the national retirement system.

"Under current law, the president can simply issue IOUs to the Social Security trust fund while he spends this money for other things," Rogan said. "This is wrong."

The GOP proposal would require two-thirds approval from Congress to use any of the $1.8 trillion in projected Social Security surpluses over the next decade for anything other than Social Security or Medicare.

"That's a high threshold to make sure we only spend those dollars on real emergencies," Rogan said.

Rogan said the "lock-box" concept would be a major departure for Congress from its four decades under Democratic control. "On their 40-year watch, not one dime was locked away. They spent that trust fund like a drunken sailor on shore leave," he said.

Democrats have balked at the proposal, which they say would give Congress too many loopholes to get at the money. They blocked a similar measure in the Senate.

Despite rhetoric on both sides of the aisle to protect Social Security, Congress sent President Clinton a bill last week that dips into the trust fund for $15 billion in "emergency" spending. The package included more than $12 billion for the Balkans war and other military purposes -- almost twice what Clinton requested to finance the airstrikes in Yugoslavia.

Clinton signed the bill Friday but complained of the "unnecessary and ill-advised special projects" lawmakers included in it.

© Copyright 1999 The Washington Post Company

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