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2 Democrats Criticize Secrecy on Overhaul of Social Security

November 09, 2001|From Associated Press

WASHINGTON — Two Democratic lawmakers criticized President Bush's Social Security commission for meeting behind closed doors Thursday in small groups to discuss overhauling the nation's retirement system.

"We question the continued efforts of the commission to shield its deliberations from public scrutiny," Reps. Henry A. Waxman of Los Angeles and Robert T. Matsui of Sacramento wrote to commission leaders.

The lawmakers are senior members of House committees that oversee Social Security and federal advisory panels.

The commissioners are "absolutely committed to an open process," said Chuck Blahous, the commission's executive director. "They have staff work to assign and agendas to prepare, and that requires them to occasionally get together and have a conversation."

The 16-member commission has divided into smaller groups to work on fiscal and administrative matters relating to an overhaul of Social Security to let younger workers invest some of their payroll taxes in the stock market.

Bush is expected to get the report next month.

By splitting in groups, the commission exempts itself from federal law that requires open meetings.

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