The A-A-R-P’s national president is in Iowa today (Monday) and tomorrow to hold forums on Social Security. A-A-R-P president Marie Smith will review the organization’s stand on efforts to reform the Social Security system.”We’re doing these all over the country and I have to tell you that every one that I have been involved with has been almost standing-room-only,” Smith says. “You know, I have given a lot of different talks on many different things, but when we start the discussion, the attention is rapt.” As for some of the plans that are being discussed, Smith says “indexing” Social Security payments — essentially reducing benefits for middle- and high-income Americans — would be “devastating.” “Social Security is not bankrupt and it’s not broke,” Smith says. “It’s not in crisis.” An A-A-R-P analysis concludes an Iowan making 40-thousand dollars a year would see their Social Security benefits cut by about 20 percent in 2037 under a plan to reduce benefits on a sliding scale, based on your income. Smith says A-A-R-P isn’t wild about President Bush’s idea of letting younger workers invest a portion of their Social Security taxes in a private account. “I wouldn’t say we are opposed to personal accounts. We do not support taking money out of the Social Security system and using it to establish private accounts,” Smith says. Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley, as chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, is trying to write the bill that will carry out reforms in the Social Security system. Grassley has said every proposal will be considered, and Smith says A-A-R-P believes Grassley will get things on the right track. “Considering the fact that almost everything else has been extremely partisan in the country for some time, I’m not surprised that there’s some difficulty in bringing it together,” Smith says. “But I think if anyone can do it, it would be Senator Grassley.” Smith, who is from Hawaii, speaks in West Des Moines tonight at seven at the Sheraton Hotel and she’ll speak at a forum in Cedar Rapids tomorrow. Before her retirement, she was a manager in the Social Security Administration.
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