JIM LEHRER: Okay. Social Security: How does what Federal Reserve Chairman Greenspan said yesterday about personal savings accounts, how is that going to affect the debate in the Congress, particularly in the Senate?
SEN. HARRY REID: Well, I think itís going to help what weíre saying. What weíre saying is there is no crisis. This is a manufactured crisis.
Social Security, if we donít do anything, itís safe for approximately the next 50 years. When I mean safe, people will draw 100 percent of their benefits.
And if we still decide to do nothing after that, people will still draw 80 percent of the benefits. We have to do something to take care of the out years, but itís a manufactured crisis.
And the president, you know, all you have to do is see what some of the real right-wing groups have talked about over the years. They donít like Social Security. They want toe get rid of it.
This is an effort to get rid of Social Security. What the president is talking about these private accounts ó I was interested to see in his press conference, I read before I got here what he said in his press conference. He talks about $2 trillion.
Well, itís going to be money weíll save. The $2 trillion just makes Social Security worse. It doesnít help at all the solvency of Social Security. Privatization is a bad idea. Itís been proven in Chile; itís been proven in Great Britain.
We also know that heís talking about benefit cuts ó benefit cuts, as much as 40 percent. Thatís very, very bad. Of course, we know that it would increase the debt significantly.
We need ó there are a lot of problems we have in America today with pensions. We have airlines that are in effect going broke unless we give them some relief with their pension programs, but thatís separate and apart from what the presidentís talking about with Social Security.
I believe that not only is it a program that is designed to do away with the most successful social program in the history of the country, but itís also, I think, an effort to divert attention from issues that are important, from Iraq, from health care, from this huge deficit we have.