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Reagan and Social Security

April 15, 1985

It's easy to call anyone a liar, but let's look at President Reagan's record. He clearly stated time and again before November that Social Security had nothing to do with the federal deficit. Why then is he now agreeing to a reduction in the cost-of-living allowance as a means of reducing the federal deficit?

Let's look at another campaign promise. The President proposed that the 1984 cost-of-living allowance would be paid even if the cost-of-living fell below the 3% rise necessary to trigger the cost-of-living allowance. Where was his concern for the federal deficit then?

And look at the March, 1983, bipartisan solution to the Social Security problem, which he hailed as the savior of the program, which would take us well into the 21st Century without any change in benefits. Item 4 of this document provided that automatic cost-of-living allowances would be paid on a calendar-year basis. Item 10 provided for a reduction of these benefits if the funds available were below a certain level. A blue ribbon committee spent more than two years and a lot of money in making a study of Social Security and recommended a program, designed to make the system sound for many years to come. Sen. Robert Dole of Kansas, now the Senate majority leader, was a signatory to this solution, and the President enthusiastically endorsed it.

What has happened since then to change the President's mind? Surely not the financial condition of the retirement fund (OASI). From November, 1983, to November, 1984, the fund increased by almost $6 billion, $500 million a month. Surely the economists, actuaries, business and labor leaders and others who worked many hours on the so-called solution must feel betrayed to find that their efforts have been wasted for some cheap political reason.

The President and the Republican senators who thought up this new proposal know that this will not reduce the federal deficit and more important will not reduce the national debt on which interest payments are rising at an alarming rate. It will throw hundreds of thousands of low-income seniors, mostly women, into a poverty situation.

TED ELLSWORTH

Los Angeles

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