Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Lawmakers Seeking Consensus On Social Security Overhaul

Tentative talks are underway about overhauling the Social Security system, and Congress could turn its attention to the federal retirement program as soon as this fall if a bipartisan consensus emerges.

So far, Democrats have found a willing partner in the Senate, where Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) has stated his desire to work with President Obama to make changes to keep Social Security solvent. Projections show that the system, which has brought in more money than it pays out, will begin to need at least small infusions of cash from the rest of the government within the next decade without changes to the benefit structure.

Graham described Social Security as "a math problem" that could be easily solved if both parties were willing to work together. He sketched out a plan that would include lower benefits for wealthy Americans, a higher retirement age and additional revenues. With the stock market devastated by the recession, the traditional Republican option of diverting Social Security taxes to new private retirement accounts is, he said, "off the table."

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