By John Toscano
Bush’s S.S. Plan Stirs Sharp Debate; Fight For Lower Rx
The proposal by Governor George W. Bush, the Republican presidential candidate, to allow some Social Security collections to be invested in the stock market brought a flood of reaction, almost all of it in opposition to the idea.
Actually, it’s an old idea, having been floated by President Bill Clinton and the Republicans over the past few years as a means of saving Social Security in the future. The system will supposedly become insolvent in 2037 as more baby boomers retire.
But the opposition to Bush’s proposal is the same as the opposition has always been-it’s too risky, especially when retirement benefits are involved. Critics of the plan have always noted that if individuals are left to invest some of their funds that ordinarily would go into the system, some will be losers even if some are winners. This would defeat one of the basic objectives of the program, to provide a safe and secure retirement fund for everyone.
The critics also say that by introducing the element of chance into the system jeopardizes the whole system. While it’s true that statistics show that over the long run, stock market returns have gone up, what would happen when, in the short term, there are losses in a system that operates by using current workers’ contributions to pay retirees’ monthly benefits?
Bush hasn’t answered those questions and several others since he offered only a sketchy proposal. Hopefully, he’ll address the unanswered questions during the remainder of the campaign, since his opponent, Democrat Al Gore, has strongly attacked Bush’s plan. Its one of the most serious campaign issues, not only for seniors on Social Security now but also for millions of younger people now paying into the system in anticipation of retiring and collecting benefits in the future. So it’s a topic everyone should pay close attention to in deciding who they’ll vote for in November.
ANOTHER MAJOR ISSUE:What are this group of senior citizens dressed up like dogs and cats doing at the International Animal Clinic at 89-04 Northern Blvd. in Jackson Heights, you might have asked if you passed by there last Thursday.
It had nothing to do with pet care. Accompanied by Assemblymember Ivan Lafayette (D–Jackson Heights), the seniors were in the dog and cat costumes to illustrate that prescription drugs for animals cost less than they do for humans. The seniors from the Joint Public Affairs Committee for Older Adults (JPAC), like seniors’ groups everywhere, are fighting to lower drug prices for seniors and to win approval for Clinton’s plan to cover prescription drug costs under Medicare.
Lafayette has introduced legislation to require drug manufacturers to give the state’s residents the same discounts on prescription drugs that health insurance companies and the federal government already get.
The state of Maine last week enacted a law under which the state government will negotiate for lower priced drugs on behalf of all uninsured people. The law also imposes profiteering penalties on pharmaceutical companies who are considered to be making excessive profits.
So it’s a national issue and another major one in the Bush-Gore campaign as well as legislative races throughout the country.
Meanwhile, Democrats and Republicans are far apart on passing a Medicare drug prescription coverage bill, so the money already set aside for it may be scooped up by hospitals, nursing homes and health care providers who have been clamoring for more federal dollars since their stipends were reduced in 1997.
ASTORIA VET GETS PURPLE HEART:Correcting an oversight, Congressmember Joseph Crowley (D–Queens/ Bronx) presented the Purple Heart Medal to Jaroslaw Kril of Astoria, who was injured while serving in Vietnam with the Army. Kril was joined at the presentation by his wife, Anna, daughter, Larissa, and Nicholas Rywak of Catholic War Veterans Post 1619. The Purple Heart, which is given to wounded fighting men and women, was established by General George Washington during the Revolutionary War.
METROCARD BUS VISIT:Senior citizens and disabled individuals will have the opportunity to get half-fare MetroCards when the MetroCard bus visits Assemblymember Michael Cohen’s district office at 98-08 Metropolitan Ave. in Forest Hills on Thursday, June 8th from 1 to 3 p.m.
MEETINGS:Two AARP chapters have meetings scheduled for Wednesday, June 7th. Jackson Heights Chapter number 991 will meet at 12:45 p.m. at the Community United Methodist Church, 81-10 35th Ave. in Jackson Heights. Pharmacist David Manning will give a talk on various medical problems.
Also on June 7th, AARP Chapter number 2889 will meet at 12:30 p.m. at the First Presbyterian Church of Newtown at 54-05 Seabury St. in Elmhurst. A representative from the New York Power Authority will speak on "Electric Safety in the Home."