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Committee To Decide How to Fix Social Security

Aired August 22, 2001 - 12:03   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LEON HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: All right, right now we want to take you to a briefing now that's happening at the Social Security Commission.

DANIEL P. MOYNIHAN, FORMER U.S. SENATOR: Well, enacting something that might take 50 years to mature.

RICHARD PARSONS, COO, AOL TIME WARNER: Or even longer.

QUESTION: Just to build on that, the Congressional Research is the latest group now to come out that (OFF-MIKE) not only benefit necessary in the current system, but in addition to that (OFF-MIKE).

How actively are you now considering the (OFF-MIKE), given that that is basically what the president suggests?

PARSONS: The senator just mentioned that we had two panels. What we did was we took the commission, and -- because we got a lot of work to do, and not a lot of time to do it in -- and just to kind of inform ourselves about options. One panel, which the senator led, was just learning about, as he said, some of the administrative problems. The other panel, which I led this morning, was focused on just understanding what the range of options are in terms of carve-outs, carve-ins, benefit adjustments.

The reason I give you that is because we haven't formed any conclusions yet in terms of what we're going to recommend. So, to try and answer the questions that, you know -- won't your recommendations necessarily result in more drastic benefit reductions than had been anticipated, or any of those kind of questions, is premature to answer; because we're just now trying to figure out what all the moving pieces are and how they can be assembled in such a way to give a responsible answer to the charge we've been given: How do you strengthen social security and make it more certain for future generations.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE)

PARSONS: I don't think, at least as we've looked at it, and certainly in terms of the ground we covered this morning, we weren't looking at the surplus in terms of the non-social security related surplus, as an option for funding the social security system. What we're trying to do is figure out how we can, within the contours of the system and the surplus within the social security system, if there are ways in which we can make more certain the availability and payment of the benefits on a going-forward basis; and create a system that is sustainable, where we currently have one that isn't.

MOYNIHAN: And have a personal savings component. And I wish you wouldn't get too preoccupied with the day-to-day events. We're trying to think the way -- well, it would be presumptuous to compare ourselves to Edwin Witte, who was the staff director of the Committee on Economic Security that Frances Perkins was chaired. But they were thinking in terms of 75 years, and they did it pretty well, didn't they?

Here we are, at about the time to take the next step.

HARRIS: We've been listening here to Richard Parsons and Senator Patrick Moynihan, who are both sitting on the committee that is looking at changing social security to try to save it, to come up with a plan to do so.

We'll be listening for any more suggestions, but they are still trying to formulate exactly what their plan is going to be. So, they are in the early stages there.

But, we do have these figures that we've gotten from Congress. The latest figures show that if the program stays the way it is, by the year 2016 it's going to be paying out more in benefits than it's bringing in, in revenues. And then, by the year 2038, the social security trust fund is going to be depleted, which is what they're trying to avoid on that panel there.

Now, by the year 2020, retirees could see their benefits cut by almost 11 percent.

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