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Published: Thursday, 3/31/2005

Dingell: Social Security needs 'modest' fix

BY LARRY P. VELLEQUETTE
BLADE STAFF WRITER
John Dingell addresses senior citizens in Samaria, Mich. John Dingell addresses senior citizens in Samaria, Mich.
HIRES / BLADE Enlarge

SAMARIA, Mich. - The man whose father stood behind Franklin Delano Roosevelt as he signed the bill that created Social Security told local seniors yesterday that the program requires "modest fixing" but that the privatization ideas currently being floated by President Bush are a "scam."

U.S. Rep. John Dingell (D., Dearborn), the senior member of the House, spoke to more than 100 seniors during a luncheon at the Bedford Senior Center. Mr. Dingell, who took over his father's congressional seat in 1955, said the ongoing national dialogue on "the greatest economic and actuarial success in history" should be a robust, but honest debate.

"Your kids are going to be forced to borrow money to invest in speculative investments for their retirement," Mr. Dingell said. "To me, that is dumb."

Though President Bush has refused to put forth any specific legislation, the President repeatedly has advocated the creation of personal accounts that initially would be financed by borrowing trillions of dollars.

The President, nearing the midway point of a 60-day campaign to win support for Social Security reform, flew into Cedar Rapids, Iowa, yesterday where he said: "This issue is beginning to permeate. People, whether they're sitting on a tractor or anywhere else in society, are beginning to hear the message: We have a problem,"

Critics have argued that private accounts transfer greater risks from broader society to individuals and could leave a greater number of future seniors spending their retirements in poverty.

After the speech, 85-year-old Temperance resident Ellen German said she stood with Mr. Dingell.

"I think they should leave [Social Security] alone," Mrs. German said, explaining that she has been collecting benefits since becoming disabled nearly 35 years ago. "I don't know what we would do without Social Security."

Information from the Washington Post was used in this report.

Contact Larry P. Vellequette at:

lvellequette@theblade.com

or 419-724-6091.



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