[Homestead] High wage earners, not coupon-clippers

tvoivozhd tvoivozd at infionline.net
Wed Feb 16 15:51:25 EST 2005

day, February 16
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President Doesn't Rule Out Making Wealthy Pay More Social Security Taxes

*By Laura Meckler* Associated Press Writer
Published: Feb 16, 2005


PORTSMOUTH, N.H. (AP) - President Bush is not ruling out raising taxes 
on people who earn more than $90,000 as a way to help fix Social 
Security's finances.

At the same time, he renewed his pitch Wednesday for Congress to approve 
an overhaul that would include Social Security private accounts for many 
workers. He told 2,000 people in an airport terminal that rich and poor 
alike should have a chance to invest in the stock market.

"Investors aren't just Wall Street people, as far as I'm concerned," 
Bush told the crowd invited by the state's all-GOP congressional 
delegation. "I think every citizen, every citizen has got the capacity 
to manage his or her own money."

He gave only passing mention to options for fixing the program's 
long-term financial woes, but told reporters for regional newspapers on 
Tuesday that he isn't ruling out making more wages subject to Social 
Security taxes.

Asked directly, Bush said he would not bar raising the $90,000 cap, 
although he does not want to see the payroll tax rate go up.

"The one thing I'm not open-minded about is raising the payroll tax 
rate. And all the other issues go on the table," Bush said in the 
interview, according to an account in Wednesday's New Haven (Conn.) 

White House spokesman Trent Duffy said raising the cap on Social 
Security taxes is just one option among many being advocated.

"Just because he said it was an option doesn't mean he embraced it," 
Duffy added.

Under the current system, payroll taxes are paid only on the first 
$90,000 in wages. That ceiling rises each year with inflation - last 
year it was $87,100. The Social Security tax rate is now 12.4 percent of 
pay, split between workers and employers.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and other lawmakers have argued that Bush's 
plan for personal accounts, which will cost more than $1 trillion up 
front, would be more attractive to Democrats if it is financed by 
raising taxes on the wealthy.

If Congress did nothing but lift the cap entirely and therefore 
subjected all wages to the tax, Social Security would be financially 
balanced for 75 years, though the system would again face trouble after 
that, according to one economic analysis.

In New Hampshire, Bush vowed to continue to travel the country, 
convincing Americans the system needs fixing. He hopes they will, in 
turn, persuade their congressional delegation to act.

"I'm going to talk to the American people over and over and over again 
until the members of Congress recognize we have a problem," Bush said.

It's a case he must continue to make, said Senate Finance Committee 
Chairman Charles Grassley, R-Iowa. Asked about the mood of Senate 
Republicans toward the issue, he said Tuesday: "Every member would like 
to see Social Security go away, but it isn't going to go away because 
the president won't let it go away."

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