MIAMI – Rep. Kendrick Meek (search), D-Fla., appealed to young taxpayers Saturday to oppose President Bush's plan to partially privatize Social Security, saying they had to the most to lose from the change.
Meek delivered the Democrats' weekly radio address two days after Bush finished a nationwide tour by touting his proposals to overhaul Social Security (search) to a youthful audience in Milwaukee.
"Our young workers have the most to lose in the debate over Social Security," Meek said. "These benefits cuts would hit 70 percent of Americans - everyone making more than $20,000 a year."
Democrats have accused the president of trying to starve Social Security by siphoning off some of its funding, changing the retirement program's nature from one providing a guaranteed government benefit to one managed by individuals and subject to the risk of the investment market.
Bush has proposed allowing workers under 55 to invest nearly two-thirds of their Social Security taxes in private accounts. He has also highlighted a plan to change benefit calculations by keeping those for low-income workers linked to wages while shifting those for middle- and upper-income workers to an increasing reliance on a slower-growing price index.
"Even if you don't open a private account, you will still see a significant benefit cut," Meek said. "Those who do open a private account will be hit with a privatization tax that will eat up 70 percent of the typical private account."
Meek said that if Social Security was privatized, the country would be forced to borrow trillions of dollars from foreign countries through bond sales.
Democrats are ready to begin a bipartisan discussion of how to strengthen Social Security, he said, and he encouraged young adults to get involved in the debate over the system's future.
Proposals to strengthen Social Security should not harm the middle class, increase the budget deficit or cut benefits, Meek said. "We simply cannot allow privatization to turn a guaranteed benefit into a guaranteed gamble."