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AARP's Response to Proposed Progressive Price Indexing of Social Security Benefits

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: AARP Media Relations, 202-434-2560, media@aarp.org

We applaud the President for raising the Social Security issue with the American public and beginning a discussion of Social Security solvency options. Engaging the American public in a debate about sensible solutions is the first step toward strengthening Social Security. Social Security needs to be strengthened now for our children and our grandchildren. But there's a right way and a wrong way to strengthen Social Security for the future. And private accounts that drain money out of Social Security are the wrong way. Private accounts that drain money out of Social Security will cut guaranteed benefits while passing the bill to future generations.

The President said that he would support progressive price indexing as one approach to reaching Social Security solvency. Progressive price indexing begins with a good idea—protecting the lowest wage workers—but then goes too far, breaking the link between a worker's contributions and benefits and shrinking future benefits for others. That is not a sensible approach to reaching solvency. It undermines the fundamental nature and strength of the current system and breaks the Social Security compact.

The President is right to keep people above the poverty line, but progressive indexing in this form amounts to a middle class benefit cut. We need to make sensible changes to Social Security so we can honor our obligations to all generations. But the impact of these changes should be fair and equitable.

Members of Congress did not have to give up their Social Security to have access to the Federal Thrift Savings Plan, basically an add-on savings plan. Average Americans should not have to give up their guaranteed Social Security benefit for which they have worked, either.

While AARP continues to commend President Bush's interest in the vitally important issue of Social Security, we do not think that progressive price indexing is the best way to make sure that Social Security is there for present and future generations.

In particular, AARP has serious concerns about progressive price indexing because:

  • Over time, progressive price indexing would mean that all workers will receive about the same benefit. This breaks Social Security's promise that the benefit you receive will reflect what you paid into the system. One of the great strengths of the Social Security program is that it is supported by all parts of American society. The President's plan would dramatic weaken middle-class support for Social Security.
  • The President's plan would have a serious impact on the middle class. The Congressional Research Service estimates under progressive price indexing that even people with $37,000 in earnings would see their benefits cut by 29% over time. For someone earning $58,000 the reduction would be 43%.
  • We greatly appreciate President Bush's concern for helping lower income Americans in their retirement years. However, it is important to remember that Social Security's existing benefit formula is already progressive — in other words lower income do make out better under the existing system.

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If you are an AARP member and not with the press, call 1-888-OUR-AARP or email member@aarp.org.

 

For media inquiries, please contact the AARP Media Relations Office at (202) 434-2560 or media@aarp.org.

 

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