CHN: President Pushes Ahead on Privatization; Opposition to Rally April 26

The Senate Finance Committee, which is chaired by Senator Grassley of Iowa and which will handle any Social Security overhaul, will hold a hearing on proposals on Tuesday, April 26. Americans United to Protect Social Security (AUPSS), the group formed to oppose privatization, is organizing rallies in over 30 states that day to show support for Social Security in its current form. A rally is also planned near the U.S. Capitol that day at 1 pm at the Upper Senate Park (at the intersection of Delaware and Constitution Avenues, NE). AUPSS is asking progressive organizations in Washington to promote attendance to ensure that the rally receives as much attention as possible.
For information about rallies across the country, contact Oliver Gottfried ( or Denise Feriozzi ( For more information about the rally in D.C., contact Joanne Solazzo ( ).

As the President continues his “60 Stops in 60 Days” tour around to the country to promote the partial privatization of Social Security, polls continue to show that the American public is not convinced that the program can be improved by diverting money into private accounts. According to an NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll completed April 3, fifty-five percent of respondents said the President’s proposal is a bad idea, compared with 35 percent who supported it. There has recently been much confusion over whether or not the Republican leadership in Congress believed any action would be taken on Social Security (see HNR April 1).

And yet, the President and the Republican leadership in Congress have now decided that the first phase of the effort to partially privatize the program is nearly complete and the second phase — hammering out details and crafting legislation — may soon begin. A Senate leadership aide has said, “It’s all going to move very fast,” referring to legislative activity around Social Security in the next few months. Conservatives in both chambers seem to be reasserting their emphasis on private accounts. Senators Grassley and Graham had earlier suggested that the White House and Republicans drop discussion of private accounts temporarily to bring Democrats onboard to discuss the solvency of Social Security. A spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist recently said, “Personal accounts are an essential part of any reform.”

In the House, there is growing sentiment among conservative members that their chamber should take the lead in passing a bill and refuse to approve any Senate-passed plan that does not include private accounts or that raises payroll taxes. It was previously thought that House members would want legislation to be passed first in the Senate. Passage in the Senate would be more difficult because of the possibility of filibuster, and House members would not want to take a politically risky vote on partially privatizing Social Security only to see the effort come to nothing in the Senate.

The hearings held by the Senate Finance Committee on April 26 will be the beginning of the second phase of the effort to partially privatize Social Security. While in the first phase the President attempted to convince the public that Social Security as it currently exists is unsustainable, the second phase will involve discussion of what the President and his allies believe are solutions — actual legislation — to the problems they described. Analysts have repeatedly found that any attempts to divert money from Social Security to fund private accounts actually makes the program less sustainable, contrary to the President’s claims.

Social Security