Press Release
Tuesday, March 31, 1998

WASHINGTON -- President Clinton and members of Congress will kick off a series of bipartisan forums designed to lay the foundation for Social Security reform on April 7 in Kansas City, Mo. The event is being cosponsored by the Concord Coalition and the AARP, in collaboration with Americans Discuss Social Security, a project funded by the Pew Charitable Trusts.

The "Great Social Security Debate" will take place from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. (CDT) in the Physical Education Building on the campus of Penn Valley Community College in Kansas City. Penn Valley Community College, one of the Metropolitan Community Colleges, is located at 3201 Southwest Trafficway.

The event will be broken into three sessions:

Session One (11 a.m.-12:10 p.m. CDT)


Defining the Problem: An overview of Social Security and the challenges it faces early in the next century. Session will include opening remarks from the President, bipartisan members of Congress, and other dignitaries. Members of Congress participating in the event will be Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.), Sen. Robert Kerrey (D-Neb.), Rep. Kenny Hulshof (R-Mo.) and Rep. Earl Pomeroy (D-N.D.).

Session Two (12:25 p.m.-1:50 p.m. CDT)


Exploring Options for Change: Session will include a discussion of the various reform options available to prepare Social Security for the 21st Century and a conversation with the audience about the personal and social values that should be the foundation of any change.

A panel of experts will discuss the pros and cons of proposals ranging from raising the age of retirement to creating private savings accounts.

The panel will include Fred Goldberg, former executive director of the Kerrey-Danforth Entitlement Commission; Marilyn Moon, senior fellow at the Urban Institute and a public trustee of the Social Security and Medicare trust funds; David Walker, former public trustee of the Social Security and Medicare trust funds; and Gary Burtless, senior fellow in economic studies, the Brookings Institution.


Session Three (2:10 p.m.-3 p.m. CDT)


Audience Conversation: President Clinton, members of Congress and other forum participants will conduct an interactive conversation with members of the forum audience. During this conversation, members of the audience will be encouraged to state their views about the current Social Security system, and ask questions about the available options for reform.

The purpose of the Great Social Security Debate is to bring a greater number of Americans into discussions about Social Security reform, to increase the level of public understanding of the program and the magnitude of the fiscal challenges it faces, to emphasize the importance of acting on reform sooner rather than later, and to lay a foundation for reforms that will make the program sustainable.

Media organizations that would like to send representatives to the event should fax a request, including the name, title, date of birth, and social security number of attendants to the following number: 816-561-3107. Information on when and where media credentials can be picked up will be available soon. A valid photo and press id will be needed to pick up media credentials.

For further information about the Great Social Security Debate, please contact Lisa Davis of the AARP at (202) 434-2560 or Jamie Ridge of the Concord Coalition at (202) 467-6222.