Press Release
Wednesday, March 10, 1999

WASHINGTON -- The Concord Coalition today said that the plan outlined by Republican leaders to lock away the Social Security surplus is a step in the right direction, but warned that it could prove to be more like a speed bump than a true lock box. Concord maintains that the only way to ensure that the surplus is saved is to move the money not just off-budget, but outside of government.

While encouraged by the GOP proposal, Concord Coalition Policy Director Robert Bixby noted that the method of enforcement -- a point of order -- could be waived with 60 votes. He explained that the Senate has passed three big spending bills in the past year with more than 60 votes -- enough to overcome the proposed lock box rule. Those votes include the 1998 omnibus budget bill (65 votes), last year's transportation reauthorization bill (88 votes), and the recent bill to increase military pay and pension benefits (91 votes).

"Too often, when the choice is between spending and saving, spending has won," said Bixby. "We have already tried to lock away the Social Security surplus by taking the program off budget three times in the past. We are not certain that budget rule changes will be enough to preserve the Social Security surplus for its intended purpose -- to help prefund the retirement of the baby boom generation."

Concord also called upon the White House to explain in more detail how its Social Security lock box would prevent the surplus from being used for new spending or tax cuts.

"The administration has acknowledged that a new budget rule would be needed to enforce the President's Social Security lock box, but as yet no new rule has been proposed," said Bixby.