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Changes Proposed for Social Security System

August 04, 1996

Re your editorial, "Before the Flood: Bracing for Social Security Surge," July 28:

A consensus is most definitely required to save the Social Security Administration before the 76 million Americans born between 1946 and 1964 retire.

You're off the mark, however, to believe that "most people know that unless changes are made Social Security might not be able to meet its long-term responsibilities." Most people are easily led by the demigods of the left who will use attempts to change the SSA as a chance to regain their political power. Selfish interests represented by the retired and government workers' unions will never allow the serious changes you recommend until most people are informed.

JAMES HARDIE

Rancho Palos Verdes

* I agree with you that Social Security should be made universal. It may have been necessary to exclude all government employees from the system 60 years ago in order to get it passed, but that is no longer the case. Probably the only way to save the system is to include the millions of well-paid employees in the public sector. It is inconceivable that municipal, state and federal employees don't have the same retirement benefits and limitations that the rest of us have.

I recognize that we as a nation have entered into retirement contracts with our public service employees and veterans, but what good are these contracts if the government is bankrupt?

I would wager that many of these retirees would accept equitable lump-sum payments in the form of government bonds. At the same time all new public employee retirement programs should become part of the Social Security system.

BRIAN B. KOVSKY

Lancaster

* Social Security is sold to the public as a retirement trust. When it becomes subject to means testing, raising the yearly cap on earnings, raising age eligibility, etc., it will be seen for what it is: income tax.

JOHN M. GUSTAFSON

Los Angeles

* You reference the Social Security Trust Fund that currently has purported reserves of $459 billion. This reserve is a bookkeeping entry. Since the federal government runs a deficit every year the surplus Social Security funds are immediately spent on current bills.

When it comes time to redeem these Social Security "bonds" the Treasury can get the money in the following ways. It can raise taxes, cut other spending, maybe sell off the national parks and a few aircraft carriers or submarines, or just issue more bonds. None of these options are very attractive. Where do you think they'll get the money?

BOB HAAS

Torrance

* As long as there is any yearly "cap" at all on earnings to which the Social Security payroll tax may be applied, only those who can well afford it will continue to benefit from such dispensations. The additional proposal to require 38 years in the labor force for full eligibility, combined with that of factoring in "the earliest years of lower-paid employment [to] reduce monthly benefits," is just another way of taking from the poor to give to the rich.

With proposals such as these, I am hopeful that the "consensus" called for will be long in coming.

CHARLES KRANCE

Los Angeles

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