Social Security proposal dies for lack of second


Despite the support of two former Green Park aldermen, Ward 1 Alderman Judy Bet-lach’s motion to approve a resolution opposing the privatization of Social Security died last week for lack of a second.

The failed resolution sought to call “upon the Missouri congressional delegation to oppose restructuring the Social Security Trust Fund to create private accounts that reduce guaranteed benefits for hundreds of thousands of Missourians.”

As reported exclusively by the Call, Betlach said she was sponsoring the resolution after being contacted by several residents who had voiced concerns about proposed changes to the Social Security program.

At the Aug. 15 meeting, four people — former Ward 1 Alderman Judy DeWitt, former Ward 3 Alderman Ron Moss, Lisa Kohn of Missourians United to Protect Social Security and Green Park resident A.J. Pupillo — spoke in support of the resolution.

“To me, there are many other issues in this country, pressing issues, other than the privatization of Social Security,” Moss said. “The issue of education, health care, people working two or three jobs trying to make ends meet to support a family — they need to be addressed before the privatization of Social Security. We need to educate our children so they can get decent jobs so they can raise a family and then build a nest egg for retirement. Right now, a lot of people are not earning enough money to build a good nest egg for a retirement account. Until these conditions are met, we don’t need to do anything to Social Security except fix a little glitch in it.”

Moss later said, “In talking to a lady the other day about this situation and I’ll quote her, she said: ‘I know too many people that can’t save enough money to create a viable retirement account.’ And that about sums up what I think about it. If it needs fixing, fix it. Don’t wreck it. In closing, I will ask you all to simply support this resolution and to send a message to our leaders — state and national — that we need to protect the present Social Security system so that a lot of these people that are not well off don’t fall through the cracks.”

In introducing the resolution, Betlach said, “My concern here is that even though we’re a small city, we have been elected to represent these people and there are approximately 3,000 people here and we have an opportunity for their voices to be heard.

“In a lot of cases we don’t necessarily know that much about Social Security, but even more if we don’t point out our concerns now, we’re going to get other things that we know even less about. Even though this is kind of like a state and federal issue, it really is a citizen issue similar to the smoking ban …,” she said, noting that roughly a dozen municipal and county governments in this area have adopted similar resolutions regarding Social Security.

The Ward 1 alderman said she had re-vised the resolution since presenting it in July, when it was tabled.

“The first time I brought it up, it was more of a discussion to see if we wanted to do that type of topic and there was some areas that kind of, perhaps could be viewed as inflammatory,” she said. “So we worked hard to bring those down, in terms of saying: ‘Hey, please don’t run out and do this. We’re concerned.”’

Noting that Social Security is not broke right now, Betlach said, “… While over the last 10 years, we’ve had a really good rise with the stock market, that’s not always the case and when I go to cash out, if I’m at the low end of that, I have some real problems with that Social Security.”

Board President Fred Baras read a letter from Rep. Jim Lembke, R-Lemay, stating he was aware the Green Park board was considering the resolution regarding Social Security. Lembke stated in the letter that it’s been his experience that it’s more effective for elected officials to hear directly from constituents on issues important to them.

The letter also recommended that if there is a groundswell of opposition to the proposed changes to Social Security, aldermen should encourage their constituents to contact their federal representatives directly by letters, e-mail or telephone.

Betlach said, “I would respond to that in that a lot of our constituents and people here don’t have the information, don’t have the specifics and by passing the resolution, certainly that’s not going to be as responsive as Mr. Lembke says, but it also gives our citizens a talking paper, if you will, so that they can move forward and carry it out on an individual basis as well.”

Baras said, “What don’t they have?”

Betlach replied, “The statistics that were included in the resolution.”

Baras said, “Why would they need statistics? I mean if you’re against it or you’re for it, then why would you need statistics? I mean if you don’t want it changed, what good are the statistics …”

“That’s right. We don’t need a cost analysis survey for the ownership vs. rental either, do we?” Betlach said, referring to her unsuccessful efforts to have the city con-duct a cost analysis of owning a City Hall vs. renting a City Hall, something Baras has opposed.

Baras said, “Well, we’re not talking about the building.”

Betlach said, “Well, but the principle is the same.”

Noting that he had a personal opinion on the Social Security issue, Ward 1 Alder-man Bob Reinagel later said, “… I’m not convinced that as a Board of Aldermen we should create a resolution to speak for every citizen unless we know every citizen is for or against this. It seems that we’re taking a little too much license with our power to do something like this. It’s a concern that I have. I know that we have quite a few folks receiving Social Security within the city right now, but for us to make a blanket statement, I have a real concern about that.”

Betlach said she wanted to know what that blanket statement was because in the resolution “we were asking them to be careful and cautious about what they do and not rush out and do it. That it does have far-reaching effects.”

Noting the resolution specifically opposed the privatization of Social Security, Ward 3 Alderman Mark Hayden said, “We’re telling them not to. We’re telling them straight up to oppose it … I mean I guess one of the things that I would have to voice my opinion on here is what might be good for me today might not be good for my kids tomorrow, might not be good for someone collecting Social Security right now. We’re all at different stages of the game … I can’t say that privatization won’t work for somebody that’s 20, 21 that likes to play the market. Personally, if you like it, you can go for it. If you don’t, you don’t, if it’s optional …”