Congressman Bill Pascrell

Representing the 9th District of NEW JERSEY

Corzine and Pascrell Reject Greenspan on Social Security

Mar 15, 2003
Press Release

Wrong to Balance Federal Budget by Breaking Promise to Seniors

BLOOMFIELD - United States Senator Jon S. Corzine (D-NJ) and U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-NJ, 8th) today called on President Bush to reject Federal Reserve Board Chairman Alan Greenspan's suggestion that Congress cut Social Security benefits to help pay for the permanent extension of recently-enacted tax cuts, which flow largely to those with very high incomes.

At a meeting of the Watsessing Park Monday Seniors Club, Senator Corzine and Rep. Pascrell said there are long-term fiscal challenges facing the country, but that Congress should make it a priority to protect guaranteed benefits that working Americans have earned over the course of their lifetime.  They noted that the average monthly benefit for retirees is only about $900, a figure far below lavish retirement, especially in high cost areas like New Jersey.

Senator Corzine and Rep. Pascrell also pointed out that, over the long term, the entire Social Security shortfall is less than one-third the projected cost of recently-enacted tax cuts.

Senator Corzine and 15 of his Senate colleagues wrote to President Bush last month challenging the President to publicly reject Greenspan's comments.  In addition, Senator Corzine has an on-going petition drive on his website (https://corzine.senate.gov) to put grassroots pressure on the White House to protect Social Security benefits.  The signed petition is sent straight to the White House.

"For nearly 70 years, Social Security has reflected the best of America's values. Social Security promises Americans that if you work hard, pay your taxes, and play by the rules, you will be able to retire and live in dignity,'' the senator said. "I share Chairman Greenspan's concerns about our long-term fiscal challenges. But it would be wrong to balance the budget by breaking Social Security's promise to seniors.''

"What we should be doing instead, at a minimum, is eliminating tax breaks for those with incomes greater than $1 million, and reserving  the savings for Social Security,'' Senator Corzine added.

"Hard working Americans have paid into Social Security their entire careers," said Pascrell.  "They have earned their benefits. We should not pay for President Bush's distorted priorities by raiding the pockets of America's seniors.  Mr. Greenspan's message is clear.  If the tax cuts are permanently extended, the government will have no choice but to raid Social Security and cut benefits for future retirees.

Greenspan testified before the House Budget Committee recently in favor of making recently-enacted tax cuts permanent, notwithstanding their large cost.  At the same time, he suggested that savings be achieved by cutting back on the level of guaranteed Social Security benefits.

The Social Security Trust Fund is projected to be solvent until 2042, even if Congress takes no action.  Over the next 75 years, in present value terms, the entire Social Security shortfall is $3.8 trillion.  By contrast, the present value of the cost of the Bush tax cuts, if made permanent, is more than three times as much: between $12.1 trillion and $14.2 trillion.

###