02/14/05 — Butterfield questions need for Social Security changes

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Butterfield questions need for Social Security changes

By Matt Shaw
Published in News on February 14, 2005 2:00 PM

The Social Security system isn't in crisis or even in need of major repairs, U.S. Rep. G.K. Butterfield said Saturday night in Goldsboro.

"You've heard a lot of talk every day recently about the so-called Social Security crisis," Butterfield said. "But the trust fund isn't going broke, far from it. It simply faces some challenges."

Butterfield, a Democrat representing the 1st Congressional District, believes the system can be fixed without the major overhaul that's proposed by President Bush. The president has recently suggested allowing employees to invest a portion of their Social Security contributions in personal accounts, similar to a 401(k).

"Private investment accounts would take money out of the guarantees going to our senior citizens," Butterfield said.

There are currently 47 million people receiving payments from the Social Security system, he said. That includes retirees and disabled workers, along with their dependents and survivors.

Even so, the Social Security trust fund has trillions in reserve, he said. "There's sufficient money in hand now to pay every benefit that's been promised."

However, as the population continues to age, the trust fund will be affected. By 2018, the money be paid into the trust fund will be eclipsed for the first time by payments to recipients, he said.

"But that does not mean the fund will be bankrupt," he said. Even if no changes were made, the fund would not be depleted by some estimates until 2052.

Even though the Bush Administration has been lobbying for weeks now for its reform plan, Congress has not been given any firm details of the proposed changes, Butterfield said.

"We're told that it's a bipartisan group that's working on the plan, but we have not been able to find out the names of any Democrats who've been involved," he said.

Butterfield was in Goldsboro Saturday to speak at the 31st annual Human Relations Awards Banquet, held at Bear Creek Fellowship Hall.

Butterfield, a Wilson native, was a Superior Court judge for 12 years, often presiding in Wayne County. He was appointed by Gov. Mike Easley as an associate judge on the N.C. Supreme Court in 2001 and served for two years. He was elected to the U.S. House last July to fill out the term of former Rep. Frank Ballance and then re-elected in November to a two-year term.