Press Release
Sunday, December 06, 1998

WASHINGTON--The Concord Coalition today urged all participants in the White House Conference on Social Security to address the program's long-term problems in a constructive and bipartisan manner.

"While there is not an immediate crisis, Social Security reform is on the political agenda because the program is unsustainable in its current form over the long-term," said Concord Coalition Executive Director Martha Phillips. "We must remember that Social Security is projected to begin running cash deficits in just 15 years. Early action will produce less abrupt and disruptive solutions."

To that end, the Concord Coalition believes the following four themes should be kept in mind during this week's conference and the upcoming legislative debate:


1. The choice among options is not between "guaranteed" future benefits under the current system and "risky" or "burdensome" reform. The only guarantee about the benefit promises of the current system is that they are substantially unfunded.

2. Reforms involving individual accounts should not be compared with a hypothetically solvent status quo. The proper comparison is between a reformed system with individual accounts and a reformed system without individual accounts.

3. The current debate is not about the retirement security of those who have left the workforce, or those who will leave the workforce in the near future. The debate is about the retirement security of those who have many working years left, and those who are still in grade school. For them, doing nothing is the worst option.

4. There is no free lunch. Each reform involves trade-offs and each option comes with a fiscal or political price, regardless of whether it aims to shore up the current pay-as-you-go system or involves a transition to a prefunded or partially prefunded system.

"Partisanship is the enemy of Social Security reform," said Phillips. "The three national Social Security forums the Concord Coalition co-sponsored this summer with the AARP prove that this discussion can be civil and bipartisan in nature. We hope the spirit of the conferences held this summer will carry over to the White House Conference this week and into the legislative debate to be held early next year."

MEDIA ADVISORY: More information about Social Security reform, including transcripts of the three national "Great Social Security Debate" forums Concord co-hosted with the AARP, is available on the Concord Coalition web site (