The Associated Press picks an issue and asks President Bush (search) and Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry (search) a question about it. Today's question and responses:

SOCIAL SECURITY: Do you rule out raising the retirement age for Social Security (search) benefits to help the program's solvency?


Bush: "Social Security is sound for today's seniors, but is not secure for our children and grandchildren. In 1950, 16 workers paid into Social Security for every beneficiary. Now, 3.3 workers support every beneficiary retiree and that will drop to two workers by 2040. I will keep Social Security's promise to today's seniors, while strengthening it for future generations, without changing benefits for retirees or near retirees or raising payroll taxes (search). We will instead add voluntary personal savings accounts (search) to allow today's workers to build a nest egg that can be passed along to their families. These accounts could be part of a comprehensive plan, which according to the Social Security actuaries, will strengthen the system permanently."

 

Kerry: "I believe in the family value expressed in one of the oldest Commandments: Honor thy father and thy mother. As president, I will not privatize Social Security. I will not cut benefits. I will not raise the retirement age on America's senior citizens. And together, we will make sure that senior citizens never have to cut their pills in half because they can't afford lifesaving medicine and more and more of a senior's Social Security check is eaten up by Medicare (search) premiums. That is the choice in this election, between keeping the promise of Social Security or choosing George Bush's secret plan to privatize Social Security, gambling on his four-year record of wasting surpluses that could be used to strengthen Social Security and instead giving more tax cuts to the wealthiest Americans."