DES MOINES, Iowa – The Republican plan to privatize Social Security could cause huge debt for decades, a Democratic candidate seeking a House seat in Iowa, a state with a high concentration of elderly residents, said Saturday.
"If the Republican plan is allowed to pass, future generations both here and across the country will be saddled with decades of debt and no guaranteed retirement security," Bruce Braley said in the Democrats' weekly radio address.
Braley, 48, a lawyer from Waterloo, faces Republican Mike Whalen in the contest to fill the seat being vacated by Republican Rep. Jim Nussle, who is running for governor. The race is considered one of the more competitive in the country.
Braley said Social Security is under attack, with President Bush and congressional Republicans making privatization a top priority in 2007. He also accused the Bush administration of "plundering the Social Security trust fund while giving billions away to special interests, like big oil."
"They are spending the money seniors rely on while making no effort to balance the budget or protect the limited funds we have for retirement security," he said.
According to the 2000 census, Iowa ranks fourth in the nation in percentage of population 65 and older, at 14.9 percent, behind Florida, Pennsylvania and West Virginia.
Bush had called for a complete overhaul of Social Security, including creation of personal savings accounts and a reduction in future benefits promised to younger workers. But legislation failed to make it to the floor of either the House or Senate.
Braley said the Bush administration and the Republican-led Congress have failed to reform Medicare and the nation's energy policy and should not be trusted with Social Security.
"This is the same team that set out to reform Medicare but instead let lobbyists create a confusing, expensive program that was little more than a payoff to the big pharmaceutical and insurance companies," Braley said of the Medicare prescription drug plan.
Braley said it's time for a change in Washington with a Democratic-led Congress.
"Because after six years of misplaced priorities, George Bush and his rubber-stamp Republican Congress cannot be trusted to protect something as vital as Social Security," he said.