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Cardin criticizes president's plan

June 02, 2005|by TARA REILLY

tarar@herald-mail.com

Calling the Bush administration the "most fiscally reckless" administration he's ever seen, U.S. Rep. Ben Cardin on Wednesday criticized the president's Social Security plan as one that would leave American workers worse off by reducing their retirement money.

Cardin, D-Md., addressed a crowd of about 50 people during a town hall meeting at UAW Local 171 on Maugans Avenue. The Social Security meeting was hosted by the AFL-CIO.

Cardin claimed that President Bush's plan to strengthen Social Security by allowing workers to invest payroll taxes into a personal savings account would destroy the program.

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The congressman said Bush's plan would weaken Social Security by replacing guaranteed money with a system that would depend on the strength of the stock market.

He also said it would cut payments for future beneficiaries and put the country in deeper debt.

"It's wrong, irresponsible and not what we should be doing to the people of this country," Cardin said.

The comment prompted a man in the audience to yell out "Amen."

"We don't have a crisis in Social Security, and yet, the president of the United States said it's headed toward bankruptcy," Cardin said. "That's just not the truth."

Cardin said the Social Security program was the most successful federal program ever created by Congress and requires only minor adjustments.

He claimed that Social Security will be able to pay current benefits until 2041 without any changes. After that, he said the program will be able to pay 73 percent of promised benefits.

"Congress should act in a bipartisan way to make minor adjustments to the program so that we can continue to guarantee 100 percent solvency," Cardin said in a written statement.

One of those changes should be halting the Bush administration's spending of Social Security trust funds once benefits are paid, he said.

Cardin also called for the ability of Americans to increase their contributions into 401(k) and individual retirement accounts (IRAs).

He predicted that Bush's Social Security plan would never receive Democratic support and that the party would not compromise on the issue.

"Social Security will always be there for you," Cardin said. "That's why it's a critical program. We can't afford to weaken it."

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