TALKING IT OVER
HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON
Molly Lozoff of Miami, Fla., is a retired real estate broker. When she
was 35, her husband suffered an incapacitating stroke that left him unable to
speak. It was then this mother of four discovered that Social Security was
there to provide disability benefits for her and for her children. Molly is now
77, and once again, she has been able to turn to Social Security for support.
Molly's story reminds us that Social Security is not just a retirement
program. Many of us don't realize that Social Security protects us in the event
that a spouse or parent becomes disabled.
Her story also reminds us of another critical issue: just how important
Social Security is for women. Most women earn less than men, and many do not
receive private pensions. Women are more likely than men to work part time, to
spend some time out of the labor force and to live alone in their retirement
years. And, on average, women live longer than men.
For these reasons, women make up more than half of all the elderly
recipients of Social Security -- 72 percent of those over the age of 85. For
many women, Social Security is literally all that stands between them and
This week, in his State of the Union address, the President offered a
bold framework to help save Social Security. He proposed committing 60 percent
of the budget surplus to Social Security and investing a small portion in the
private sector in order to earn a higher return for all of us.
Social Security has often been called the "third rail of politics" --
the issue that every politician is afraid to touch. I am proud that my husband
has stepped up to the plate and demanded an end to this head-in-the-sand
approach. And I am pleased that he made the point Tuesday night of reminding
our lawmakers that they must also work together to reduce poverty among elderly
As all of us who are aging know, health-care security can be just as
important as retirement security, which is why the President also announced a
plan to strengthen Medicare.
This week's State of the Union address was my husband's seventh and the
last of the 20th century. As such, it offered him a unique opportunity not only
to assess where we stand as a nation but also to chart a strong and sure course
for the next generation.
My husband took office at a time when America's economy was troubled,
the deficit was high, and citizens feared for their safety. Today, we can all
feel pride in our country and confidence in our future.
We are in the midst of the longest peacetime economic expansion in our
history. For the first time in three decades, the budget is balanced. Violent
crime is dropping, and our environment is the cleanest it's been in a quarter
Now, though, is not the time to be complacent.
To strengthen our families for the 21st century, saving Social Security
will be our first priority. But there are many other challenges as well.
For six years, this President has kept his eyes on the goal of helping
America's families who every day do their best to balance the demands of work
and home. To further that goal, this week, he called on Congress to increase
the minimum wage and to expand the Family and Medical Leave Act to benefit 10
million Americans who work for smaller companies.
More than ever, men and women feel pressed to meet their obligations as
workers and their responsibilities as parents. So, the President also laid out
a bold agenda to improve child care, expand after-school programs, and provide
a new tax credit for stay-at-home parents. He announced a plan to make
America's schools the best in the world. He proposed the extension of health
insurance to millions who can't afford it. And he urged passage of the
Patient's Bill of Rights and action to protect our children from handgun
violence and the dangers of tobacco.
When Molly Lozoff visited the White House last October for a roundtable
discussion on women and pensions, she said, "I am so proud we have a President
who feels a tug on his heart for our plight -- the plight of the elderly." This
President is determined that America begin its journey into the next century
with every American family solidly on board.
COPYRIGHT 1999 CREATORS SYNDICATE, INC.