Dems decry deficits

Democrats on Saturday said President Bush’s budget proposals are making it more difficult to solve the financial problems facing the Social Security retirement system.

In the weekly Democratic radio address, Sen. Kent Conrad of North Dakota also criticized Bush’s plan to carve private investment accounts out of Social Security, saying that “slashing benefits and hoping to make up the difference in the stock market is risky.”

Conrad also drew attention to how the accounts would work, noting that those who opted for the investment accounts would have their traditional Social Security benefit reduced.

“The president’s plan assumes the Social Security trust fund loaned you that money. And you have to pay it back with interest,” he said.

Conrad, the top Democrat on the Senate Budget Committee, said more budget discipline was needed to prepare for the coming retirement of the baby boom generation and the increased demands on the retirement system as well as the Medicare health care program.

Bush has been pushing his Social Security investment account proposal in the face of declining public support for the idea.

Conrad said Bush’s budget proposals make dealing with Social Security’s financial problems more difficult.

“In the president’s budget he takes trillions of dollars of Social Security money to pay for other things,” Conrad said. “Then he takes trillions more to create private accounts. Those changes only dig the hole deeper.”