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Bartlett wants Social Security privatized

July 08, 1999

Roscoe BartlettBy GREG SIMMONS / Staff Writer

photo: YVETTE MAY / staff photographer




Poor management of government funds and lies by members of Congress are at fault for problems in Social Security, Medicare, education and defense, U.S. Rep. Roscoe G. Bartlett, R-Md., said Thursday.

The national debt continues to increase even though Congress said the federal budget was balanced last year, said Bartlett. "Debt was going up when the budget was balanced because Congress was lying to you," he said.

Even though legislators admit the Social Security fund will be insolvent in a few years, they have done little to fix the problem, Bartlett said in a speech to about 30 Hagerstown Kiwanis Club members.

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Bartlett said he believes Social Security should be privatized. He said Chile had privatized its national retirement plan and appears to be doing well.

Bartlett is sponsoring a bill along with Rep. Edward Markey, D-Mass., that would make it legal to invest part of the Social Security Trust Fund in the stock market to preserve the trust fund for six years past the projected insolvency date of 2032.

Bartlett said if the money is invested in diverse funds like the Standard & Poor's 500 index, government interests could be preserved while not interfering with corporate decisions. Stocks in the S&P 500 earned on average up to 4 percent more than government securities, which are the only legal means of investing for Social Security.

Health care is in a position where the quality is low and the price is high, Bartlett said. The government wastes money trying to fix internal problems in the health care industry, he said.

"Instead of getting in and trying to micromanage these corporations, (Congress) needs to create an environment where there's competition," Bartlett said.

Heavy, regressive taxes for unfunded federal mandates hurt the "poorest of the poor" and force both mothers and fathers to work, depriving their children of important education they would receive in the home, Bartlett said.

As a result of women being forced out of the home, children's education is declining, even though more money is going to the schools, Bartlett said. Children are going to "palatial schools" with top-notch athletic equipment, but the schools are neglecting "the three R's," he said.

Bartlett said the country needs well-equipped armed forces more than ever. With international figures like Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein, who has reportedly begun outfitting commercial sea craft with missile-launching equipment, the United States has more to worry about than it has since the Cold War days.

"I think he's right on," Kiwanis member Dick Souders said. "Less government, less taxes. Give it back to the people and quit trying to fake everyone out."

"That's the first time I've ever heard a congressman say they've been lying to us," Kiwanis President John Roney said.

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