News Releases

Murray Urges Bush to Strengthen – Not Dismantle – Social Security

Mar 04 2005

In letter to Bush, Democrats ask President to abandon privatization proposal

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-Wash.) today joined with 41 of her Democratic Senate colleagues in sending a letter to President Bush, urging him to publicly reject private accounts for Social Security.



“Funding privatized accounts with Social Security dollars would not only make the program’s long term problems worse, but many believe it represents a first step toward undermining the program’s fundamental goals. Therefore, so long as this proposal is on the table, we believe it will be impossible to establish the kind of cooperative, bipartisan process we need to truly address the challenges facing the program many decades in the future,” the Senators wrote in their letter.



Earlier today Murray also participated in a Social Security Roundtable to discuss the impacts of privatizing Social Security on women and families. The promise of Social Security is especially important to women because they face unique challenges in retirement and in taking care of their families if disability or other tragedies hit. Today, under Social Security, women and families are protected – there’s no guarantee under the Bush plan.



The full text of the Senators’ letter to President Bush follows:





March 3, 2005

The President
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC


Dear Mr. President:



We write in the hope that we can achieve a bipartisan agreement to strengthen Social Security for the long term and enhance the retirement security of all Americans.



Soon after your reelection, you made clear that your Administration’s top priority is to move toward the privatization of Social Security. Your proposal would cut Social Security’s funding by diverting payroll taxes into privatized accounts, which would weaken the program and force deep cuts in benefits. Your Administration also acknowledged that the proposal would require borrowing trillions of dollars, much of which we know would come from foreign countries like China and Japan.



Democrats in the Congress believe this approach is unacceptable, and it appears that most Americans agree with us. Funding privatized accounts with Social Security dollars would not only make the program’s long term problems worse, but many believe it represents a first step toward undermining the program’s fundamental goals. Therefore, so long as this proposal is on the table, we believe it will be impossible to establish the kind of cooperative, bipartisan process we need to truly address the challenges facing the program many decades in the future.



We were encouraged that Treasury Secretary John Snow suggested that you might be willing to abandon your privatization proposal and move instead to an alternative approach in which investment accounts would be established entirely separate and apart from Social Security. As you know, many Democrats, including President Bill Clinton, have advocated just such an approach, with benefits targeted to working and middle class families who need help the most. So long as such accounts remain entirely independent from Social Security and do not put the program’s guaranteed benefits at risk in any way, we believe they deserve serious consideration as part of a broader effort to promote retirement security.



While Secretary Snow’s suggestion was initially encouraging, subsequent reports indicate that you remain committed to your privatization plan and his public comments were little more than a tactical maneuver. According to a story in today’s Washington Post, “White House officials are privately telling Republicans that Bush is opposed to the idea [of accounts outside of Social Security], but does not want to say so because it would appear he is not willing to compromise.”



Given the conflicting and ambiguous reports on such a critical issue, we urge you to publicly and unambiguously announce that you reject privatized accounts funded with Social Security dollars or otherwise linked to the provision of guaranteed Social Security benefits. Such a statement would eliminate a serious obstacle to the kind of bipartisan process that Democrats are seeking to deal with Social Security’s long-term challenges and to improve the retirement security of all Americans.



Thank you for your consideration of our views. Sincerely,

Senators Akaka, Baucus, Bayh, Biden, Bingaman, Boxer, Byrd, Cantwell, Carper, Clinton, Corzine, Dayton, Dodd, Dorgan, Durbin, Feinstein, Harkin, Inouye, Jeffords, Johnson, Kennedy, Kerry, Kohl, Landrieu, Lautenberg, Leahy, Levin, Lieberman, Lincoln, Mikulski, Murray, Bill Nelson, Obama, Pryor, Reed, Reid, Rockefeller, Salazar, Sarbanes, Schumer, Stabenow, Wyden