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Al Gore Delivers Remarks on Social Security

Aired May 15, 2000 - 3:17 p.m. ET


BOBBIE BATTISTA, HOST: Let's go to Ambler, Pennsylvania, where Al Gore is getting ready to deliver a speech there. That's at Beaver College in Ambler. And presumably, he will make remarks about his Social Security (UNINTELLIGIBLE) proposal in answer to George W. Bush's earlier today.

AL GORE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Thank you very much. Thank you, Sabrina (ph). Thank you, my friends.

Let's hear it for Sabrina. Didn't she do a great job? Thank you so much. Thank you, my friends.

And Sabrina, you did a wonderful job in your introduction and you're doing an even more spectacular job in raising Troy (ph) and reaching out for your dreams and getting the skills that will make it possible for you to make Troy's dreams come true also.

It's great to be here at Beaver College. I want to welcome all of the students who are here today.

I wanted to come to talk to a group of primarily young people about Social Security today. And I am looking forward to meeting with the Cheltenham High School girls basketball team, state champs. I hope that we're going to get together a little bit later on and I hope some of you will go and play for Pat Summitt at the University of Tennessee.


And at least one's got that in mind.

I want to thank the university for the hospitality. And I want to thank my friend and colleague Joe Hoeffel, who works so hard for the people of this community.

Joe, thank you very much for doing such a great job.


And thank you for introducing all of the dignitaries.

He slipped me a note here and said that he had accidentally overlooked an especially important one, my longtime friend T.J. Rooney (ph), state representative from the Lehigh Valley. Appreciate you being here.


I want to congratulate all of those who participated in the Million Mom March yesterday. That was a great success and I wish them well.


Now, I'm here this afternoon to talk about an issue that is critical to your future; critical also to the future of America; and that, of course, is maintaining America's fundamental guarantee of Social Security.

Let me begin by saying that I know some younger Americans are skeptical about the future of Social Security. There's been a lot of scare talk about whether it will be there or not. And the truth is, as the baby boomers retire and our senior population doubles, Social Security does need to be reformed. And that is why one of my central proposals in this campaign for president is a plan to strengthen Social Security.

Ten years ago, we faced some very difficult choices about how to achieve that goal. You'll remember that back then America faced giant budget deficits stretching out as far as the eye could see. We had quadrupled our national debt and we were on the way to raising it to even higher levels. We had a triple-dip recession, the economy couldn't seem to have a sustained recovery.

And during those times there seemed to be no way out other than rewriting the basic guarantees of Social Security. Many thought we would have to cut benefits or raise the retirement age or raise Social Security taxes or even begin to privatize the system.

Today, we face a far different situation and a far better prospect. In the last seven and a half years we have balanced the budget and turned the biggest deficits into the biggest surpluses. And I want to thank again Marjorie Margolis Mezvinsky (ph) for her courageous vote and the others who voted to help us do that.


And now we are actually paying down the debt instead of increasing the debt. As a matter of fact, some of you may know that for the last 11 years, in New York City, at Times Square, there has been a national debt clock put up by private citizens to keep track of our mounting debt. Back then the debt was mounting up so rapidly that the numbers on that clock were often practically a blur.

GORE: In fact, once it had to be turned off because the numbers were going up so fast that the computer running the clock crashed.

But now we're making so much progress toward paying down our debt, I noticed the story that contained the announcement just a few days ago that that debt clock is going to be unplugged and removed from Times Square this fall.

Times have changed. Our economy is strong today, the strongest ever, and if we keep making responsible choices, we can reform Social Security the right way. We can reform Social Security in a way that preserves the fundamental guarantee of retirement security and also pays down our debt, keeps our economy strong, and enables us to meet other great challenges.

Let's understand what Social Security means to the millions of Americans who depend on it. It's more than a way to build up some extra savings; it's not just a way to make money in the stock market. Social Security is a solemn compact between the generations. It is a basic guarantee of retirement security, built on a guaranteed minimum benefit.

No matter what's happening on Wall Street, no matter how the economy is doing, Social Security is supposed to be there to guarantee a decent retirement for every American.

We know that many people can build up extra retirement savings through private investments and IRAs.

GORE: We encourage that with special tax provisions to make it more likely that people will invest and build up their savings over and above what they will receive from Social Security. That's important and I support it. Investing in the stock market is not only good for individual Americans, it's good for America.

But that kind of private investment is not meant to replace Social Security, rather it is intended to build on the foundation of Social Security.

From the very beginning, when Social Security was first put in place, the people who designed it said, Now, remember make some investments on your own if you can. And in addition to Social Security, maybe you can get a pension from your employer and maybe you can have some private savings and investments. It was always suppose to be on that foundation of Social Security.

If we turn the Social Security system into a system of winners and losers, we will be jeopardizing retirement security for too many Americans, and in the end, we will all have to pay to make up the difference.

I have laid out a detailed plan to reform and strengthen Social Security, a plan that is based on fiscal responsibility and debt reduction.

If I'm entrusted with the presidency, I will balance the budget every year and pay down our debt every year, putting America on the road to becoming debt free by the year 2013. That'll be good for our economy.

(APPLAUSE) GORE: And that's the only way we can get ready to meet our obligations through Social Security. Then I'll make sure that we use the budget surplus and the money we save from paying down the debt to save Social Security first.

I'll devote all the interest savings from debt reduction to the Social Security trust fund. That way, we can keep Social Security solvent until at least 2050.

There is a fundamental difference on this issue in this election, which offers the country the most critical choice on Social Security since it was first enacted way back in 1935, because there is a right way to reform Social Security and a wrong way.

George W. Bush outlined his approach in a speech this morning. We still don't know all the details of his plan, but we do know that he is proposing to partially privatize Social Security.

Today, when Wall Street is booming, I know that plan sounds appealing. It probably sounds like an easy way to make more money and have more control over your retirement.

But in reality, the Bush Social Security privatization plan would weaken our economy and undermine the basic guarantee of a minimum decent retirement.

It would weaken our economy because it would make it impossible to pay down our national debt.

It would cost about $1 trillion over 10 years to meet today's obligations through Social Security, while allowing people to set up these individual accounts.

Where would that money come from? That is one of the questions that -- one of the many questions that has not been answered.

It is an especially important question, because at the same time Governor Bush is proposing a huge tax cut of nearly $2 trillion, so if you have the so-called transition costs of $1 trillion, at the same time you have a tax cut of $2 trillion, that's bad for our nation's economy, because the numbers just don't add up.

And under the Bush plan, a serious reduction of our national debt would therefore be simply impossible.


BATTISTA: Presidential candidate Al Gore giving his proposal today to revamp the Social Security system in response to George W. Bush's proposal earlier today. Mr. Bush's proposal includes the privatization of part of the Social Security fund; Mr. Gore's favors paying down on the national debt and in what you save on the interest there you would shore up the fund with that.



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