Kline talks social security at New Prague visit

By Patrick Fisher

What should be done with social security?

That question was at that heart of a town meeting held by U.S. Rep. John Kline. The second-term Republican who represents Minnesota’s Second Congressional District, was in New Prague the morning of March 30 and spoke with more than 40 people at the New Prague City Hall.

Many of those who attended the meeting were senior citizens, and Kline and his staff asked them for input about proposed social security reforms.

The issue has been discussed around the country and in the area. The town meeting in New Prague was one of three that day for Kline. He also stopped in Chanhassen and Prior Lake, and had other meetings scheduled throughout the district last week.

Kline described the history of the program, which was founded in the 1930s and it provides a variety of benefits for retired workers, survivors, dependents and the disabled.

Kline said that as the country changes over the next few decades, changes will need to be made to ensure the financial stability of the social security system. He noted that in 1950 there were 16 workers paying for each retiree. Today, there are three workers per retiree and it is estimated that by 2035 there would two workers per retiree. Another factor is increased life expectancy, which means more people are receiving social security for longer periods of time.

According to a chart at the meeting the social security surplus will begin changing to deficits in 2018, perhaps as early as 2017.

Also with Kline was Rhonda Whiteneck, public affairs representative with the Minnesota branch of the Social Security Administration. She said she was not there to advocate either side of how to fix the program, but to explain the program.

One point discussed was the possibility of taking the current cap off for those who have to pay into social security based on income. Currently a person only pays into the system for the first $90,000 of their income. Kline said that while such people would be paying more in, when they retire they would be taking more out.

Also at the meeting were representatives of the organization Generations Together. Members of the organization advocate the possibility of personal accounts as part of the reform of social security.

Other members of the audience said that they didn’t feel personal accounts were the way to reform the program.

Kline said that many people, senior citizens especially, are involved in the issue of reforming social security.

I would ask you to stay engaged

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