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April 7, 1998: Saving Social Security First

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Because of the steps taken by our generation at the edge of the 21st Century, we have it within our power to build for the next generation. In the coming century, Americans will live longer and be retired longer. The challenge of an aging society will affect every aspect of our lives. Our greatest opportunity and most profound obligation as a nation is to use this moment of prosperity to save Social Security.

- President Bill Clinton
April 7, 1998

Today, President Clinton travels to Kansas City, Missouri to attend a non-partisan, national forum on Social Security, co-sponsored by the American Association of Retired People and the Concord Coalition. At the forum, the President articulates the principles that must guide the process by which we reform Social Security.

The Most Successful Government Program Ever. Since its inception in 1935, the Social Security system has provided security for the retired and disabled, as well as their families. It currently provides benefits to about 44 million Americans, and keeps roughly 15 million of them out of poverty.

The Long-Run Challenge. Today, just over 3 workers contribute for every Social Security beneficiary. By 2030, it is expected that only 2 workers will contribute for every Social Security beneficiary. According to the intermediate projection of the Social Security Trustees Report, the retirement of the baby boomers is expected to cause the Social Security Trust Fund to start falling by 2019, and to be exhausted by 2029.

President Clinton's Principles For Reforming Social Security. President Clinton is strongly committed to strengthening Social Security over the next two years. He will judge any reform proposal by its ability to meet the following five principles:

  • Reform should strengthen and protect Social Security for the 21st Century. Proposals should not abandon the basic program that has been one of our nation's greatest successes.
  • Reform should maintain the universality and fairness of Social Security. For half a century, Social Security has been a progressive guarantee for citizens. It should be kept this way.
  • Social Security must provide a benefit people can count on. Regardless of economic ups and downs, Social Security must provide a solid and dependable foundation of retirement security.
  • Social Security must continue to provide financial security for disabled and low-income beneficiaries. We must never forget the one out of three Social Security recipients who are not retirees.
  • Social Security must maintain America's fiscal discipline. Projected budget surpluses should be reserved pending Social Security reform.

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