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Hillary Clinton Campaign Press Release - Clinton Outlines Plan To Help Pennsylvania Families Save For Future

March 25, 2008

At a town hall in Greensburg, Hillary Clinton outlined her plan to help families in Pennsylvania have a secure retirement. Her proposals would help families save, strengthen defined benefit pensions, and strengthen Social Security and Medicare for future generations. Through her American Retirement Accounts Plan, Clinton would offer 3.4 million Pennsylvania families up to $1,000 in a matching tax cut to save. In addition, Clinton said she would shore up employer-sponsored pensions pledged to protect Social Security from Bush-McCain privatization efforts.

"When I'm President, privatizing Social Security will be completely out of the question. That's a big difference between Senator McCain and me. Senator McCain said something stunning the other day – he pledged to continue President Bush's attempt to privatize Social Security," said Clinton. "He's already promised to continue George Bush's failed Iraq policy and to make permanent his tax breaks for the wealthy few. Now, he's taking up President Bush's assault on Social Security. In a nutshell, that's John McCain's plan for America: four years more of the same. You don't need to look any further than Bear Stearns and Wall Street lately to know that our workers and seniors simply can't afford the Bush-McCain privatization gamble."

At the town hall, Clinton was joined by Sherry and Terry Donato from LaTrobe, PA. Terry works as a self-employed truck driver, and Sherry is working two jobs to help make ends meet for their family. With two teenage sons and costs for tuition looming, they are concerned about their ability to save for retirement.

Far too few American families are saving and building wealth for retirement. With stagnant wages and historic declines in housing values colliding with soaring health, education, and energy costs, millions of American families are finding it next to impossible to save. Fewer than half of American families have retirement savings accounts in any given year. The private savings rate in 2006 fell to its lowest level since the Great Depression. And nearly half of households entering retirement have just $15,000 or less in a 401(k) or IRA type plan. Hillary Clinton believes that every hardworking American family should have the tools and opportunities they need to save, build wealth and retire with dignity.

Her four-point plan is below:

1. Hillary's American Retirement Accounts Plan with $1000 Tax Cut for Savings.

Hillary believes that we need to give all Americans an opportunity to save and build wealth for retirement that is as easy, secure and generous as is offered by good employer-sponsored 401(k)s. Her American Retirement Accounts Plan will give that chance to the tens of millions of Americans while reducing wealth inequality, increasing national savings, and encouraging economic growth. Under the plan, working and middle class families who currently have the hardest time saving will get generous matching tax cuts as an incentive to save. In addition, Hillary's plan will make savings automatic by giving employers new incentives to automatically enroll their employees in retirement savings accounts. This plan will offer 3.4 million Pennsylvania families up to $1,000 in matching tax cut to save.

2. Strengthening Defined Benefit Pensions. Senator Clinton believes we must also shore up existing employer-sponsored pensions. She fought in the Senate to ensure that companies funded 100 percent of their defined benefit pension obligations. As president, Senator Clinton will close the loophole that allows companies to cut their employees' pensions when they sell off subsidiaries. She will strengthen our bankruptcy code so that companies cannot use bankruptcy to get out of their pension obligations to workers. She will restore the Pension Benefit Guarantee Corporation to its historic role as an advocate for worker retirement benefits. And she will strengthen spousal protections to ensure that widows and qualified divorced widows receive the retirement benefits they are due.

3. Protecting Social Security from Bush-McCain Privatization Efforts. Senator Clinton believes that Social Security is a solemn promise to our seniors, and she is committed to keeping that promise. Social Security provides benefits to more than 48.4 million people, including 2.4 million people in Pennsylvania. Senator Clinton has a clear, straightforward plan to keep Social Security strong for future generations. First, she will restore fiscal responsibility in Washington. Senator Clinton is the only candidate remaining in the race who has showed exactly how she will pay for all of her new initiatives, while conserving additional savings for deficit reduction. Second, Senator Clinton will address the long-term challenges facing Social Security through a bipartisan process. As part of that process, she will consider a range of options to strengthen the program without hurting seniors or middle-class families.

In striking contrast, Senator McCain has pledged to continue George Bush's failed attempts to privatize Social Security. On March 3, Senator McCain said "[a]s part of Social Security reform, I believe that private savings accounts are a part of it -- along the lines that President Bush proposed." That effort could mean:

  • Undermining Social Security's long-term finances: Senator McCain has embraced President Bush's plan for carve-out individual accounts within Social Security. That approach would not only do nothing to strengthen Social Security, but these carve-out accounts would actually undermine the program's finances – and speed up the date when Social Security can no longer pay full benefits. [WSJ, 3/3/08; CBPP, 2005].
  • Adding more than $5 trillion to our debt: Senator McCain has already committed to explode our long term deficit by making President Bush's tax cuts for the wealthiest permanent and by enacting a new $100 billion per year tax cut for corporations. Now, the Bush-McCain carve-out accounts will add another $5 trillion in debt over 20 years. [CBPP, 2005]
  • Exposing millions of workers to the risk of unexpected stock market losses: The Wall Street turmoil of recent weeks and near collapse of Bear Stearns should serve as a reminder of the unpredictability of Wall Street investments. Yet the Bush-McCain carve-out accounts would shift the risk of these unpredictable losses onto workers and near retirees, while imposing new burdensome administrative fees that eat away from savings. In 2005, Senator Clinton stood alongside members of the Wall Street financial services industry to warn against the danger of injecting stock market risk into Social Security's guaranteed benefit. [http://clinton.senate.gov/news/statements/details.cfm?id=236886&&]
  • Cutting Social Security benefits by 40% or more: Like President Bush, Senator McCain has also pledged to slash benefits for Social Security recipients in the coming decades. President Bush's proposed benefit cuts would have slashed benefits for middle-income workers by about 40%, once fully phased in. Senator McCain's campaign has raised a number of options including raising the retirement age, cutting cost of living benefits or other deep benefit cuts. [WSJ, 3/3/08].

4. Strengthening Medicare's Long-Term Finances by Reining In Healthcare Costs.

The Congressional Budget Office reported recently that the U.S. has largely "misdiagnosed" its long-term fiscal problems by focusing on the demographics of the baby boom retirement rather than on health care costs. If health care costs continue to grow at their current rates, federal spending in Medicare and Medicaid could more than quadruple by 2050. But if we hold health care costs down, the impact of our aging population alone on these programs will be far more manageable. That's why Senator Clinton has outlined the most aggressive plan of any presidential candidate to reduce costs throughout the healthcare system with comprehensive preventive care services, more effective chronic care management and modernization of our health care system. In addition, as the only candidate with a truly universal healthcare plan, Senator Clinton will more effectively reduce healthcare costs by extending the benefits of these new reforms to all Americans. Finally, as Senator Clinton works to reduce health care costs and strengthen Medicare's long-term finances, she believes we should focus on Medicare's overall fiscal wealth, and not artificial distinctions about the share of financing derived from general revenues.

Hillary Clinton, Hillary Clinton Campaign Press Release - Clinton Outlines Plan To Help Pennsylvania Families Save For Future Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/293160

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