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PRO 1   10-23-99

President Clinton will propose to use Social Security surpluses to pay down the national debt. The idea, as described by Clinton in his weekly radio address, is to pay down more than $3.1 trillion in public debt over the next 15 years as part of a plan that would make the United States debt-free for the first time since 1835. The billions saved in interest payments to service the debt would then be diverted to the Social Security Trust Fund to ensure its solvency to 2050.



White House economic advisor Gene Sperling said that by devoting a decade of Social Security surpluses to debt reduction would slash the debt by $2.1 trillion, cutting interest payments to $56 billion. That would save $107 billion that would be transferred into the Social Security Trust Fund in 2011, and growing amounts through 2016. Transfers would stay at the 2016 level through 2044. ``What it is, it is generating more revenues for the future by saving now, having lower interest rates, high savings,'' 



House Speaker Dennis Hastert, an Illinois Republican said the House would consider Clinton's proposal, but he made no pledge of early action, and noted that several competing proposals would be considered. ``I don't think the American people want us to hastily just throw a solution at Social Security. We want to make sure it is the right thing to do, and we'll take some time and take a look at it,'' Hastert said. ``We'll be happy to look at it, have hearings on it and move with it.''



Leading Republicans reacted warily to President Clinton's scaled-down proposal for Social Security reform, with one criticizing it as a gimmick and another making no promise of early action. ``This is the Godzilla of all gimmicks,'' Republican Sen. Pete Domenici of New Mexico said on CNN's ``Late Edition'' program.




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