Social Security Woes

social security graphic, with hand reaching for cash AP

Weekly commentary by Chief Washington Correspondent Bob Schieffer.



Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan stated the obvious the other day and set off a firestorm. He said what everybody knows, that the day's coming when we'll either have to cut Social Security benefits or find some way to pay for them. "If we're going to make the president's tax cuts permanent," he said, "then we ought to raise the retirement age and adjust" — read that "lower" — "the cost of living increases that Social Security covers. That will reduce benefits but it will also save money."

The Democrats who would be president were having none of it. John Kerry said he was not about to cut benefits, ditto said John Edwards who called the idea an outrage. And then along came the president to say count him among those who won't cut benefits either. He said he had no intention of changing benefits for those getting ready to retire. But the other part is he's not backing off his tax cuts.

So if we are to take all of them at their word, the soon-to-be retired have nothing to worry about. The Democrats and the Republicans are all on the record: They will not cut Social Security benefits. What they didn't talk about is where they're going to find the money to make that happen.

And here's something else they didn't say. Even if they kill the president's tax cuts, there still won't be enough money to pay those benefits. When do you suppose they'll explain that part?

By Bob Schieffer
  • Bootie Cosgrove-Mather

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