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Two Groups to Lead Retirement Dialogue


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President Clinton has tapped two major groups advocating Social Security reform--the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) and the Concord Coalition--to lead a national dialogue on strengthening the retirement system.

The two groups have not endorsed any specific plan to keep Social Security working through the baby boomers' impending retirements, but both have experience getting Americans to grapple with the complicated problem.

AARP is the nation's largest senior citizens advocacy group, claiming more than 32 million members. The Concord Coalition was founded in 1992. Clinton has asked both organizations to sponsor and set up the series of regional public forums on Social Security that he announced in his State of the Union address.

Clinton says he will not ask Congress to consider specific repairs to the retirement program until after the year-long public dialogue. He has also urged lawmakers not to touch any government surplus resulting from the move to balance the federal budget in case the money is needed for Social Security.

Currently, the retirement system takes in more payroll taxes from working Americans than it pays out in benefits to retirees. But after baby boomers start to retire around 2010, that situation will be reversed. Without changes, Social Security may be unable to pay retirement benefits beginning in 2029.

Clinton has pledged that either he or Vice President Al Gore will attend each of three or four public meetings on the problem, but most other details will be left to AARP and Concord, which have yet to announce their plans or schedule.

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