Congressman Steny H. Hoyer released the following statement today following the President's State of the Union speech. Congressman Hoyer invited constituent Bill Hunt from Greenbelt, MD to be his guest in the Gallery for the State of the Union, specifically to hear the President talk about Social Security and expressed his real concerns with the President's proposal to privatize Social Security.
"First, I join the President and all Americans in applauding the Iraqi people for demonstrating such tremendous courage in turning out to vote on Sunday. And I salute our brave men and women in uniform who made this historic day possible.
"I think any American who heard the President's speech tonight has to wonder why he is talking about Social Security going 'bankrupt' when he refuses to tackle the very real fiscal crisis of record deficits and exploding debt that his economic policies have caused.
"Democrats recognize that Social Security faces long-term challenges, and we are committed to strengthening and modernizing the program for future generations. But we are unequivocally opposed to a privatization scheme that fails to address Social Security's problems, that cuts benefits and that forces us to borrow $2 trillion over the next decade.
"Also, the President's claim that he will enforce fiscal responsibility is simply belied by experience and hard numbers. His Administration turned record budget surpluses into record deficits in just four short years, and he has offered no credible plan to get our fiscal house in order. And, he has yet to veto one spending bill passed by this Republican-controlled Congress.
"I urge the President and Congressional Republicans to join Democrats in supporting the pay-as-you-go budget rules that helped us produce those record surpluses in the 1990s."
"Finally, I was pleased to be joined by one of my constituents, Bill Hunt, from Greenbelt, Maryland to be my guest in the Gallery for the State of the Union tonight to hear the President talk about Social Security.
"Bill Hunt has spent his career in both the public and private sectors. While he is not yet near retirement, his work at the state and local level, has intimately involved him with programs serving people who have low and moderate income, as well as retirees and the disabled," said Hoyer.
Mr. Hunt said, "I have seen first hand the importance of Social Security to many people. I believe Social Security represents a strong commitment that we as a society have made and need to honor. It is an investment in each other. I consider it a social compact, representing both a legal and moral commitment. From my personal experience, members of my own family have benefited from Social Security, men and women who worked hard and Social Security was critical to their livelihood when they retired. I shudder to think what would have happened to them if Social Security hadn't been available.
Mr. Hunt thinks the program has been successful and has worked. He said, "radical change is not warranted at this point, especially if the change serves to undermine the program. People who have paid into Social Security and built their lives expecting to get this benefit should not be placed in jeopardy."