Senator Charles Grassley convened a hearing at nine o’clock this (Tuesday) morning in Washington, D.C., on four alternative proposals for Social Security reform. Grassley as chairman of the Senate Finance Committee is leading consideration of Social Security reform in Congress. During an appearance on C-SPAN, Grassley conceded it may not be “politically possible” to create personal savings accounts for younger workers so they can invest up to four percent of their Social Security taxes in stocks and bonds. “Personal accounts are not the main issue as far as Social Security is concerned, as far as I’m concerned,” Grassley says. While Grassley wants those private accounts that President Bush has proposed, he says the main thrust of any reform plan should be ensuring the system remains solvent. Expert witnesses at today’s Senate Finance Committee hearing are discussing their ideas for making Social Security solvent through 2080. President Bush has not presented a detailed plan to Congress yet and Grassley says that’s a good thing. “I hope the president doesn’t send one up because it’s something for people (who) don’t want to do anything with Social Security to target and pick at,” Grassley says. “If you’re going to do something in a bipartisan way in the Senate, you’ve got to build from the bottom up and so that’s what we’re going to try to do.” Grassley, who is a Republican, says he respects Democrats for opposing the private accounts, but does not respect those who refuse to talk about making the system solvent. “Doing nothing is not an option if you want to be honest with the American people,” Grassley says. “Here’s my challenge to my colleagues. We all get paid $161,000 a year. We ought to all be at the table worried about Social Security if we’re worried about the next generation more than we’re worried about the next election.” Grassley plans to hold more town meetings this weekend to talk with Iowans about issue.
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